Although the Supreme Court appreciates petitioner’s contentions that the obligatory participation to the Section 8 program vis-a-vis N. S. J. A. is unfair because the program’s regulatory requirements exert additional State pressure over landlords, the court argues that these are not overly burdensome. It is true that the petitioner is already subject to numerous requirements and regulations, namely the Anti-Eviction Act, Rent Deposit Act and Hotel and Multiple Dwelling law of New Jersey.
However, to allow a landlord to refuse participation under the Section 8 program, merely because it takes so much time to claim disbursement, what with the inherent “bureaucracy” of the program, is to risk the scenario wherein landlords who are unwilling to “fill up the forms” shall render the housing assistance totally ineffective for it gives precedence to landlords not to participate (Templeton Arms v. Feins, 220 N. J. Superior Court 1, 9 App. Div. 1987).
Moreover, the Supreme Court argues that prior to the acceptance of the terms between landlord and tenant, as in the case at bar, the former has “had the opportunity to screen the tenant and has decided to accept the tenant prior to respondent’s becoming eligible for Section 8 assistance” (Franklin Tower One, L. L. C. v. N. M. ). Likewise, a tenant who is already a beneficiary of the Section 8 program is still subject to the landlord’s prerogatives of acceptance under a reasonable review of the tenant’s references, background, employment and rental history to ensure that she will be able to pay the monthly rent.
At any rate, N. J. S. A. 2A:42-100 makes no distinction between existing tenants and prospective tenants. It simply prohibits discrimination based on a tenant’s source of income or the source of a tenant’s lawful rental payments. V. Implications The ruling of the Supreme Court, on the case at bench, seeks to remedy the difficulties in the application of the Section 8 Certificate and Voucher programs. It happens often that the landlords are not so eager to participate in such a program.
In effect, the beneficiaries of the vouchers can not make use of the same or if they do, the vouchers become meager subsidies to housing condition choices that are not so livable or the neighborhood is not conducive to decent living (“A critique of Landlord and Voucher programs”, 1999). There have been various amendments to the aid and assistance by the state to tenants over the years. For instance, the implementation of a 90-day notice requirement of eviction, among others, grants the tenant reasonable time to look for a new rental house.
But with the vouchers, and its apparent inapplicability and low economic currency in relation to the landlords who only wish to protect their market interests, “families run out of time during the house search, particularly if the particularly if the certificates are restricted to very low-poverty or low-minority neighborhoods, or if the housing market as a whole is tight” (Turner and Williams, 1998:10). In other words, the vouchers, which would have otherwise been a substantial aid to the low-income tenant-families, become no less than inutile as applied because it is virtually useless in renting decent houses.
Moreover, Florence Roisman, an assistant law professor of the Indiana University School of Law, in her critic against the Housing and Urban Development program, listing down several proposals to erase the discrimination suffered by tenants when applying for lease thus concludes that the Section 8 program contains onerous provisions to the injury of the marginalized citizen. The vouchers become subsidiary prophylactic measures subsumed in the larger problems of social inequality and oppression (Roisman, 1999: 176-178).
Following the decision of the case, the Supreme Court wants to put an end to the practice of landlords who screen and deny applicants based on discriminatory qualifications. Similarly, it is common that the landlord rejects the first tenant voucher-holder because it would mean accepting other voucher-holders in the building. To this end, an amendment to Section 8 was made by congress to prohibit discrimination in the landlord’s selection of Section 8 tenants.
The fact that the Section 8 voucher-holder experience problems in finding rental houses because the landlords refuses the holders thereof, the amendment was specifically designed to ensure that such tenants be equally treated as with any other paying client. However, the landlords are not to be faulted entirely insofar as their prerogatives to choose and deny are breached. They are left with no choice but to accept these tenants for denying them would be unlawful.
As such, the amendment “take-one, take-all” was later repealed because the statute becomes a disincentive to landlords to participate in the long run (Becka, 1996: 167). Time and again, the problems of subsidized housing and rental assistance have presented a bifurcation of interests. On the one hand, the state pursues the noble cause of social welfare and social work, while on the other hand, the landlords, to whom a substantial portion of the statutes are addressed, suffer economic losses as the burden of subsidy is shifted to them.
It is said that housing “plays a major part in any effort at becoming self-sufficient” (Salsich, 1997: 19), but the current state aid, namely the vouchers under the Section 8 program, do not provide the needed support for the tenants inasmuch as it has not enough economic market value for the landlords to accept as substitute payment. The vouchers are options of last resort for indigent tenants, perhaps even their only option, but such vouchers become onerous a burden for the landlord.
Therefore, it is almost as if the vouchers did not exist at all by the very fact that they are usually rejected. The only remedy to the problem is continued refashioning of the policies to finally come up with a formula that shall benefit all the parties concerned and thus, make the provisions effective across the board.
References A Critique of Landlord-Commissioned Report on the Certificate and Voucher Programs (1998). Court holds that New Jersey landlords must accept vouchers. Retrieved March 3, 2008, from http://www. eastcoastinvestor. com/html/news_and_updates.
html Beck, P. (1996). Fighting section 8 discrimination: the fair housing act’s new frontier. Harvard Law Review Journal, 31 (155), pp 159-167. Roisman, F. W. (1999). Long overdue: desegregation litigation and next steps to end discrimination and segregation in the Public Housing and Section 8 existing housing programs. Cityscape: A Journal of Policy Development and Research, 4 (3), pp. 171- 179. Salsich, P. W. (1997). Welfare reform: is self sufficiency feasible without affordable housing?. Michigan Land and Pol’y Review, 43 (51), pp. 2-23. Turner, M. , & Williams, K. (1998).
Moving out of poverty: expanding mobility and choice through tenant-based housing assistance. Housing Policy Debate, 9 (2), pp. 373–394. Franklin Tower One, L. L. C. v. N. M. 157 N. J. 602, 725 A. 2d 1104 (1999) Kargman v. Sullica, 552 F. 2d 2, 11 (1987) Knapp v. Eagle Property Management Corp. 54 F. 3d 1272, 1282 (1988) Templeton Arms v. Feins 220 N. J. Superior Court 1, 9 Appellate Div. (1987) 24 C. F. R. § 982. 1, 3, 4, 302 (a), 308 Housing and Community Development Act of 1974, 42 U. S. C. A. § 1437 f(a-t) (West 1994). N. J. S. A. 2A:42-100