New Jersey may make it easier to force landlords to fix things

 The gold plated dome of the state capitol in Trenton, New Jersey. (Alan Tu/WHYY)

The gold plated dome of the state capitol in Trenton, New Jersey. (Alan Tu/WHYY)

The New Jersey Senate is scheduled to vote Monday on a bill that would prevent landlords from requiring tenants to pay their rent with automatic electronic fund transfers.

State Senator Brian Stack said he’s received hundreds of complaints about that practice.

“Many of these tenants might be looking to get repairs done in their apartment. Their only mechanism, the only hammer they have over a landlord’s head to get the repairs done, is to withhold their rents and use that rent to make repairs under New Jersey state law. They wouldn’t be able to do that.”

Stack said the electronic payment requirement is a hardship for tenants who don’t have a checking account and want to pay with cash.

The legislation he’s sponsored would also require landlords to provide a receipt for cash payments.

“It may be a very small amount of landlords, but many tenants face a hardship that after paying their rent and not getting their receipt, maybe there’s a bookkeeping problem and they wind up taking the tenant to court for rent they already paid and they have no way of proving it”

Stack said hundreds of tenants have complained about the electronic payment requirement. There are concerns it could be used to discriminate against low-income tenants and limit their access to affordable rental housing

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