The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs conducts green card inspections on multiple dwellings of three units or more every five years. Having done a number of these inspections over the years, we decided to write this article to help real estate investors in New Jersey understand how to register, the process of inspection and how to pass the state green card inspection.
Before we begin, how do you know if your property needs a State Inspection to get a Green Card? This is straight from the DCA website:
"The Bureau of Housing Inspection, administers the New Jersey Hotel and Multiple Dwelling Law (N.J.S.A. 55:13A-1 et seq.) (hereafter called “The Act”). The Bureau is responsible for ensuring that hotels and multiple-family buildings of three or more dwelling units operating within the State of New Jersey are properly maintained and do not pose a threat to the health, safety and welfare of their residents, nor the community in general."
Basically, if you own a 3 family property or above, you qualify. If you own a mixed use building with more than 3 livable rental units, you qualify. If you own a hotel or motel with three or more units, you qualify. If you are unsure, please contact the DCA directly for clarification.
HOW TO REGISTER
You must fill out a certificate of registration from the Bureau of Housing Inspections. You pay a small fee and fill out the form. If you just bought the property, you will need to call them to transfer the name of ownership that they have on file.
You will need to fill in who the "in county agent" is for the property. This is someone who must reside or have an office in the county your dwelling is located. We often do this for several of our property management clients.
INSPECTION PROCESS & TIPS
One of the inspectors from the state will call you to schedule an inspection. These inspections are done every 5 years. The state has a list and will contact you when your inspection is coming up.
COMMON ITEMS TO FIX:
*SMOKE DETECTORS (must be 10 year sealed battery backup)
*FIRE EXTINGUISHERS (2A-1OBC rated)
*DOORS NOT SELF CLOSING
*NO CHAINS ON DOORS
*NO PEEP HOLES ON DOORS
Pro Tip: Go ahead of the inspection and look for these common items. If things are missing or broken, fix them now because you're going to have to fix them anyway!
When we do inspections with the state inspectors, we ask them to point out any issues they see to us. We take a picture and make a note of where the issue is located (outside, basement, hallway, apartment 1, apartment 2, etc). When they are done with their inspection, we will ask to go over our notes to make sure we got everything they felt needed to be addressed. This way we have the list of corrections immediately and we don't need to wait to receive it in the mail.
Pro Tip: Do not start arguing with the inspector that something does not need to be fixed. We don't do this, but we know some people who do. You're not doing yourselves any favors here!
Once the inspection is done, you will have 60 days to make the repairs. We suggest getting right on the repairs, the 60 days will come up fast!
HOW TO GET MY CERTIFICATION
Once you pass the re-inspection, it will take several months but NJ will mail you an updated green card certificate. Take it and display it in the main entrance of the building. That will show tenants that you have an updated property and it will also remind you when the last green card inspection was done and when the next one is approaching.
We included this Youtube video from our channel (make sure you subscribe) that also explains the green card process. If you're taking care of your properties or hiring a property management company like us to do it, you don't have much to worry about. If you are neglecting your properties, it will show and they will ask the tenants what problems they are having with the property. If that is happening, you might want to think about giving us a call.