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3 N.J.A.R. 92

Lobsenz, Theodore A. & Meyer Lobsenz v. Community Affairs, Department of, Bureau of Housing Inspection
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Citation: 3 N.J.A.R. 92
Decision Date: 1981
Synopsis: The owners of four separate buildings sought an exception from the requirement of the Bureau of Housing Inspection that a permanent concrete floor surface be installed in the basement of each of the four buildings. N.J.A.C. 5:10-19.4(d) 1 requires that basements in multiple dwellings have a permanent surface that is water resistant and capable of being kept broom- clean. The administrative law judge consolidated all four matters because all involved a common question of law based on common facts. The judge dismissed one of the petitions for an exception upon an application of res judicata since the Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs and the Appellate Division had previously ruled that a concrete floor was required. As to the remaining petitions, the administrative law judge found that the State of New Jersey 93 basement floors were made of dirt and were either damp or contained water deposits. The basements were used by utility meter readers and although the buildings' owners attempted to keep tenants out of the basement. some tennants did manage to gain access to the basements and as a result debris accumulated on the floor. In addition. the .judge found that floors in such condition could more easily attract vermin and that the floor conditions posed the possibility of adverse effects upon the health and safety of the buildings' occupants. The judge noted that N.J.S.A. 55:13A-1 l(a), which sets forth the standards for granting an exception to the regulations. requires the property owner to show: (I) that strict compliance would result in undue hardship to the owner and (2) if granted, the exception would not unreasonably jeopardize the health, safety and welfare of the buildings' occupants. The judge observed that although the cost of installing the concrete floors was high, there was no evidence in the record to indicate that the petitioners were losing money and would thus suffer a financial hardship if the floors were installed. Additionally, the judge reasoned that the property owners' plan to install concrete walkways for use by meter readers would not preclude the possibility of health risks to the buildings' occupants. Accordingly, the administrative law judge concluded that the petitioners had not met their burden of demonstrating their eligibility for an exceptk)n and ordered that concrete floors be installed. Meyer Lobsenz, Esq., for the Petitioners and Pro Se Dennis R. Casale, Deputy Attorney General, for the Respondent (John J. Degnan, Attorney General of New Jersey, Attorney)