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Wisniewski, DeAngelo, Coughlin, Benson & McKnight Bill to Ease Home Improvement Costs for Senior

An Assembly panel on Monday released legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats John Wisniewski, Wayne DeAngelo, Craig Coughlin, Daniel Benson and Angela McKnight to ease home improvement costs for seniors by exempting them from municipal building permit fees.

The bill (A-1891) would authorize municipalities to enact ordinances that would allow an individual age 65 or over to apply for a waiver from paying construction permit surcharge fees or other fees associated with the construction or alteration of their primary home.

"It is hard enough with property taxes for our senior citizens to stay in their homes," said Wisniewski (D-Middlesex). "The unexpected cost of a permit for a water heater or roof replacement can push them out of their homes. This legislation will help municipalities make sure their residents can take the steps necessary to comfortably and safely remain in their residences. Particularly for those on a limited income, an exemption from building permit fees can go a long way."

Any senior citizen who meets the requirements necessary to receive a homestead property tax reimbursement would be eligible for a fee waiver under the bill. Provisions of the bill would not apply to new construction or construction done solely to increase the square footage of the home.

"When seniors are able to stay in their homes, they tend to have a more positive overall life outlook," said DeAngelo (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "This bill acknowledges that transforming a home into a space that can accommodate older residents is necessary for the health and safety of New Jersey's seniors and will help make that very important process a bit less costly."

"Our older residents have contributed so much to New Jersey, and they deserve to be able to continue residing peaceably and safely in the homes that are familiar to them," said Coughlin (D-Middlesex). "This legislation will help remove one hurdle for seniors who want to maintain comfort and independence in their homes as they age."

"For longtime homeowners, it's inevitable that the home will need routine repairs. For seniors, being able to complete those everyday projects as well as improvements that facilitate remaining at home is essential," said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "This legislation will give seniors peace of mind and the ability to live independently in an affordable manner."

"Renovation costs as a whole can add up significantly so every little bit helps when it comes to much-needed repairs," said McKnight (D-Hudson). "For seniors, these repairs can sometimes be necessary in order to help them navigate their home more easily. We should be doing all we can to help them age in place comfortably."

Under current law, a municipality may choose to grant a building permit fee exemption to individuals with physical disabilities. The bill extends this exemption to seniors seeking repair or routine maintenance of their homes. The sponsors note that the cost of the exemption will be offset by fees paid by other, non-exempt permit applicants.

The bill was released by the Assembly Health and Senior Citizens Committee.

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