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Inganamort v. Ft. Lee

Supreme Court of New Jersey

March 5 and 6, 1973, Argued ; April 4, 1973, Decided

No Number in Original

Opinion

 [*527]  [**301]   The single question is whether a municipality has the power to adopt a rent control ordinance. In the Fort Lee and River Edge cases the ordinances were upheld, 120 N.J. Super. 286 [***3]  (Law Div. 1972); in the North Bergen case the ordinance was struck down. The decisions followed upon different readings of Wagner v. City of Newark, 24 N.J. 467 (1957). We granted certification of the appeals to the Appellate Division before consideration there.

We must assume there is a critical shortage of the housing covered by the several ordinances here involved and that tenants, trapped by the fact, are being exploited. The judgments were entered on pretrial motions in which this factual premise was not challenged. Hence we have the naked legal issue whether the police power delegated to these municipalities includes the power to deal with the evil of inordinate rent arising out of a housing shortage.

There are three constituent questions: (1) does the State Constitution prohibit delegation to municipalities of the power to control rents in a period of critical housing need; (2) if that power may be granted, has the Legislature done so; and (3) if the State statutes vesting police power in municipalities do embrace this area, is the exercise of that power by local government preempted or barred by reason of the existence of other statutes dealing with the subject [***4]  matter. These are the same questions presented in Wagner, supra, 24 N.J. 467, which struck down a rent control ordinance adopted by the City of Newark.

In the Fort Lee and River Edge cases the trial court read Wagner to turn upon the third question, that is, the existence at that time of a State statute dealing with rent control and preempting the subject, and there being no such statute today, the court found that Wagner did not bar municipal legislation. In North Bergen the trial court read Wagner to hold there was no grant of power to municipalities to deal with the subject. At the argument before us, counsel could  [*528]  not agree as to which of the three legal propositions was pivotal in Wagner.

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62 N.J. 521 *; 303 A.2d 298 **; 1973 N.J. LEXIS 262 ***

JOHN F. INGANAMORT, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS, v. BOROUGH OF FORT LEE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS. FORT LEE HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION OPPOSED TO RENT CONTROL, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS, v. BOROUGH OF FORT LEE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS. CONTINENTAL GARDENS, INC., ET AL., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS, v. BOROUGH OF RIVER EDGE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS. JUSTIN C. HARRIS AND STEPHEN SHILOWITZ, EXECUTORS, ETC., PLAINTIFFS-RESPONDENTS, v. MAYOR, ETC., TOWNSHIP OF NORTH BERGEN, ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS

Subsequent History: Appeal after remand at Inganamort v. Ft. Lee, 72 N.J. 412, 371 A.2d 34, 1977 N.J. LEXIS 247 (1977)

Prior History: Inganamort v. Ft. Lee, 120 N.J. Super. 286, 293 A.2d 720, 1972 N.J. Super. LEXIS 420 (Law Div., 1972)

CORE TERMS

municipalities, delegation, rent control, local government, police power, ordinance, matters, subject matter, terms, regulations, statewide, municipal power, local decision, conferred, shortage, powers, legislative intent, home rule, rents, rent control ordinance, local concern, preemption, provisions, cases, state concern, state statute, state policy, unrestricted, decisions, controls

Governments, Local Governments, Home Rule, Legislation, Initiative & Referendum, Police Power, Police Powers, Criminal Law & Procedure, Robbery, Unarmed Robbery, Penalties, Estate, Gift & Trust Law, Estate Administration, Intestate Succession, Descent & Distribution, State & Territorial Governments, Relations With Governments, Business & Corporate Compliance, Real Property Law, Zoning, Constitutional Limits, Environmental Law, Land Use & Zoning, Types of Statutes, Sunday Closing Laws, Ordinances, Ordinances & Regulations, Real Property Law, Landlord & Tenant, Rent Regulation, General Overview