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Begley v. Department of Community Affairs

A-3626-98T1 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2000) (Unpublished)

MULTIPLE DWELLINGS—The exemption for certain buildings containing four units or less from the ambit of the multiple dwelling inspection regulations applies to cooperatives, condominiums, and mutual housing association, but not to three-family homes.

An owner of a three-family house and the occupier of one of its units consistently failed to correct numerous violations cited by the Department of Community Affairs during a regular five-year inspection. As a result, the owner was penalized a substantial amount based upon the length of time over which the owner had failed to abate two particular violations. The owner argued that the property fell under an exemption from inspection for certain buildings containing four units or less. Otherwise, all multiple dwellings, being defined as “any building or structure ... in which three or more units of dwelling space are occupied, or are intended to be occupied by three or more persons who live independently of each other,” are subject to the law. The exception exempts certain buildings containing four units or less from the ambit of the regulations, but by its own terms, the exemption applies only to cooperative, condominium or mutual housing corporation ownership units. According to the Court, “it is patent that the exception [did not] apply.”

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