Judge Rules in Favor of City of Orange Property Owners Association: Annual Inspections of Units Unenforceable

Roseland, N.J.—A judge of the New Jersey Superior Court, considering a challenge filed by a property owners group of the City of Orange, ruled that the City’s annual inspection ordinance, which was enacted in December 2010, and required annual inspections of rental properties, was void and unenforceable. The Honorable James Rothschild ruled today in action filed by the City of Orange Property Owners Association, against the City of Orange, that the City was not permitted to inspect multifamily properties on an annual basis since the New Jersey Legislature granted authority to municipalities to inspect properties only when there was a change of their occupancy.

Counsel for the successful City of Orange Property Owners Association, Charles X. Gormally, Esq., of Brach Eichler LLC, Roseland, N.J., noted, “the Court’s decision today was a clear and unequivocal rejection of the City of Orange’s attempt to exceed the authority granted by the New Jersey Legislature in a desperate effort to raise revenues for general municipal purposes. By granting our request to enter summary judgment against the municipality, the Court has closed the door on overreaching governmental action against the multi-family industry in the City.”

Remaining to be resolved in the case is the property owners’ challenge that the $100 fee charged for inspections is grossly excessive. The previous fee charged by the municipality was historically $35 per inspection and, by virtue of the ordinance; the fee was raised to $100 for each inspection. The Court ordered that the parties engage in expedited discovery to make a determination whether the amount of fee being charged by the City is appropriate.

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