New Jersey ANCHOR Program – Property Tax Relief For Eligible Homeowners & Renters

Property taxes in New Jersey, need we say more? Wait – we have some GOOD NEWS!

The State is launching its new Affordable NJ Communities for Homeowners and Renters (ANCHOR) program that promises to deliver real, tangible property tax relief to both homeowners and renters in the State. The ANCHOR program was established earlier this year when the New Jersey enacted a record $50.7 billion annual budget. Getting excited? Here’s what you need to know…

Eligibility:

  • To be eligible for this year’s benefit, homeowners and renters must have occupied their primary residence on October 1, 2019, and file or be exempt from NJ income taxes.
  • Over 870,000 homeowners with incomes up to $150,000 will receive $1,500 in relief; over 290,000 homeowners with incomes between $150-250,000 will receive $1,000; and over 900,000 renters with incomes up to $150,000 will receive $450 to help offset rent increases.

How To Apply:

  • Eligible homeowners can apply online, by phone, or via paper application, which can be downloaded online and returned by mail. Renters can apply online or download the application from the Taxation website and return by mail (there is no phone option for tenants, as this is the first time this group will be eligible for property tax relief).
  • The administration has set December 30, 2022, as the deadline for filing.

Receipt of Benefits:

  • Benefits are scheduled to be provided by the administration via a direct credit on tax bills, a check, or direct deposit no later than May 2023.

More information on the program please visit the State of New Jersey website. https://nj.gov/governor/news/news/562022/approved/20220912b.shtml

Wife and Husband or Husband and Wife?

My first experience working on deeds was when I was halfway through a course in women’s history at college so in a tiny act of rebellion, when I received a deed request for John Smith and Jane Smith, married to John Doe and Jane Doe, married, I would draft it as Jane Smith and John Smith, Wife and Husband to Jane Doe and John Doe, Wife and Husband. It was a nice change compared to the older deeds where the husband always came first, or worse, when they listed them as John Smith and Jane Smith, his wife. And then, several deeds in, came the request from the title company for a change to the language: “underwriting requests that the Grantors be listed as ‘John Smith and Jane Smith, Husband and Wife. Please update and return.” Why on earth would it matter the order of the names?

Well, like so many things in life, that answer is in the history books. As a former colony, a great deal of American law is based in English common law and coverture, where a married woman ceased to exist as a legal entity and was “covered” by her husband, was a legal reality for centuries on both sides of the Atlantic. Prior to marriage, a woman would exist as her own entity legally and if she was widowed without children (or male relatives to fight on inheritance) once again a legal status would be restored. Obviously, there were still limitations on many of these rights, but nothing compared to the complete lack of rights for married women. Upon marriage a woman’s legal existence ceased. She could hold no property separately, receive no inheritance. Sell nothing, buy nothing. Even her children were not hers.

The reality of what this meant for women’s daily lives obviously varied depending on how much a husband chose to use the letter of the law to control the household and year after year, decade after decade different aspects of coverture have been curbed. But the legal reality that it has never simply been overturned should not be ignored, especially when hints of it are still coming through in our daily practice. Just this week our office had to prepare an addendum to be signed by all parties in the transaction acknowledging the husband of our buyers as the primary borrower. Both buyers are going to appear on the deed and mortgage for their marital residence, both buyers are working and have good credit, and both buyers have capital being used for the down payment so we asked the lender why would we need to formally name him primary borrower? The answer was simply “it is the credit union’s policy”.

Hints of coverture, or a husband and wife existing as one entity, are elsewhere in more obvious fashion, even with updates. For instance, in New Jersey a married couple spending just one night in a property can make it a marital residence, meaning both husband and wife need to sign a deed to avoid possible future title disputes. Now the change of course is that in the 1700’s a husband could do what he liked with a marital property and modern marital residence law means that even if a deed is just in a husband’s name, he cannot simply sell the property without his wife’s knowledge. But it also goes in the other direction, as we explained to a client recently who was selling her home one week after her wedding. When we explained that if her and her new husband spent even one night in the property together before closing title would require him to sign all of the documents, she was shocked. But her marriage had impacted how her property was viewed in the eyes of the law, so it had to be addressed. Even a property purchased when you are single and sold when you are embarking on the new phase of your life will be touched.

I still try and rebel by listing wives before husbands and sometimes I still get the request back to change the order, but hopefully as more deeds go into the public record as “Wife and Husband” underwriters will stop fighting it and we can keep chipping away at another legal tradition that belongs in the past.  

Sources/Further Reading:

New Law: New Jersey Lead-Based Paint Inspections in Rental Dwelling Units – Effective: July 22, 2022

In accordance with a new lead-based inspection law, the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs has issued guidelines and a frequently asked questions page (links below). The law requires that all rental dwelling units (required to be inspected) must be inspected for lead-based paint within two years of the law taking effect on July 22, 2022, or upon tenant turnover, whichever is earlier. This means that the first inspection must take place no later than July 22, 2024. This new law is not currently tied to time-of-sale requirements.

After the initial inspection, all units shall be inspected for lead-based paint hazards every three years, or upon tenant turnover, whichever is earlier. An inspection upon tenant turnover is not required if the owner has a valid lead-safe certificate. Lead-safe certificates are valid for two years. If the lead-safe certificate has expired, and there will be a tenant turnover, an inspection will be necessary before the three-year inspection.

In all scenarios, the next inspection should be scheduled three years from the date of issuance of the most recent valid lead-safe certification. Please see the helpful resources below for a link to the form.

Overview

Requirements 

  • Rental properties subject to the new law must be inspected for lead-based paint within two years of the law taking effect on July 22, 2022, or upon tenant turnover, whichever is earlier.
  • The type of inspection will depend on the lead levels in children in the municipality where a rental is located

Remediation Requirements

  • Properties where lead is found during an inspection will need to undergo remediation, either to make it lead safe or lead free
  • The type of remediation will determine if future inspections are required
  • Measures to temporarily make a property free of lead paint will make it lead safe
  • Measures to completely eliminate lead paint will make it lead free 

Properties Subject to New Lead Paint Law 

  • Single-Family Residential Rental Homes Built Before 1978
  • Two-Family Residential Rental Homes Built Before 1978


Properties Not Subject to New Lead Paint Law

  • Homes Built During or After 1978
  • One and Two-Family Seasonal Rental Dwellings Rented for Less than 6 Months that Do Not Have Consecutive Lease Renewals
  • Dwellings Certified to be Free of Lead Paint
  • This new law is not currently tied to time-of-sale requirements.

Helpful Resources: