On certification from the Appellate Division on the court's own motion.
For affirmance -- Chief Justice Vanderbilt, and Justices Heher, Oliphant, Wachenfeld and Burling. For reversal -- None. The opinion of the court was delivered by Vanderbilt, C.J.
This is an appeal by the City of Bayonne from the judgment of the Law Division of the Superior Court holding invalid certain of its ordinances which were designed to withdraw the city from the operation of chapter 146 of the Laws of 1956, N.J.S. 2 A:42-56 to 73, previously adopted by the city, and to provide an independent system of municipal rent control different from that prescribed by the state enactment. We certified this appeal on our own motion pursuant to R.R. 1:10-1(a) along with the appeal in Wagner v. Mayor, etc., of City of Newark, see 24 N.J. 467.
The factual circumstances in this case are substantially different from those presented in the Newark case (Wagner v. Mayor, etc., of City of Newark, supra). On June 19, 1956 the City of Bayonne adopted an ordinance regulating and controlling rental housing accommodations within its boundaries, to take effect on July 1, 1956, upon the termination of the controls provided by the State Rent Control Law of 1953, L. 1953, c. 216, as amended and supplemented, N.J.S. 2 A:42-14 et seq. The ordinance was to continue in effect until January 2, 1957.
Immediately following the adoption of its rent ordinance, the city then authorized the filing of a petition on its behalf with the Legislature seeking the enactment of a special state law permitting the continuation of rent control within Bayonne. The Legislature then passed chapter 146 of the Laws of 1956 authorizing Bayonne, Newark and 33 other municipalities "to adopt, make, amend, repeal and enforce ordinances to provide for the regulation of rentals and possession of housing space" in a manner similar to the regulation provided for under the State Rent Control Law of 1953, supra, and in effect on June 30, 1956, except that
landlords were to be given an increase in such rents of 15% to 20% depending on the class into which their properties fell. In conformity with Article IV, Section VII, paragraph 10 of the Constitution of 1947, relating to special laws regulating the internal affairs of municipalities, which provides:
"* * * Such law shall become operative only if it is adopted by ordinance of the governing body of the municipality or county or by vote of the legally qualified voters thereof * * *,"
chapter 146 was not to become operative in any of the municipalities concerned until adopted by ordinance of the governing body of the municipality.
Pursuant to the provisions of chapter 146, the Board of Commissioners of the City of Bayonne passed an ordinance on August 21, 1956 adopting the special state law. Then, by ordinance of September 18, 1956, they amended and supplemented the city rent control ordinance passed on June 19, 1956 so as to make it conform to the requirements of chapter 146 of the Laws of 1956, supra. This ordinance of September 18, 1956 expressly states:
"In the event any provisions of the Bayonne Rental Control Ordinance of 1956 are in conflict with the provisions of Chapter 146 of the Laws of 1956, then the provision of Chapter 146 of the Laws of 1956 shall prevail."
The defendant indicates that after the adoption of the state special law, L. 1956, c. 146, the local rent office in Bayonne was besieged by thousands of tenants complaining of the fact that they had received from their landlords notices of eviction and offers of new tenancies with increased rents of 15% to 20%, and that the urgent appeals of these tenants were that they were unable to pay such increases and, if evicted, would have no place to live. The defendant further indicates that this situation made it apparent that by ...