Can Construction Permit Fees Relating to Handicapped Improvements Be Waived by a Municipality?

  • Handicapped persons have certain protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act and other laws unavailable to the non-disabled
  • One protection is an exemption from paying fees to local municipalities to improve their home
  • This article discusses exemptions under the New Jersey Construction Code regulation’s concerning permit fees and Mt. Laurel housing contribution fees

Handicap Home ImprovementsHere’s The Background

A client purchased a home in Monmouth County (the municipality and county doesn’t matter for purposes of this article). She knocked the house down and is now building a new home. She is handicapped. The township is charging $5,500 dollars in permitting fees, etc., and she is wondering if she is exempt due to her handicap.

More importantly, they are charging her $14,000 in Mt. Laurel fees, and they have told her that there may be another $7,000 or more due and owing.

My first response was to research the municipal ordinance related to required contributions to an Affordable Housing Trust Fund and research exemptions from the payment of construction fees and permit fees under State law.

How a Handicapped Person Can Obtain a Waiver of Fees

My research disclosed that construction and permit fees apply to all residential and non-residential developments in the State. Another fee goes into the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Whether or not the exemption from paying these fees depends on if the Municipality believes the home improvement promotes accessibility of the handicapped person to his/her own living unit.

The township has adopted an ordinance concerning waiving permit and development fees. The ordinance states that “a disabled person or a parent or sibling of a disabled person may be granted an exemption from any fees or payments required pursuant to the MLUL in connection with any application for development which promotes accessibility to his/her own living unit.”

The construction official said that the fees will get waived as long as we provide proof of the disability. He cannot waive all construction permit fees, only the fees related to the construction of the handicap accessible areas. He told me to have the builder contact him so they can break the costs down.

As for the COAH/Mt. Laurel fees, I was directed to the tax assessor’s office, who told me that they calculate those fees, but he didn’t  know if there is a waiver available. We are in the process of further researching this issue.

To discuss your New Jersey real estate matter, please contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email him at fniemann@hnlawfirm.com.  Please ask us about our video conferencing consultations if you are unable to come to our office.

By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a Freehold Township, Monmouth County, NJ Real Estate and Landlord/Tenant Attorney

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