On appeal from the Department of Community Affairs.
Appellant is the owner of a multiple dwelling located at 40 East Columbia Avenue, Palisades Park. On January 27, 1977 the Department of Community Affairs, Bureau of Housing Inspection, conducted an inspection of appellant's premises and ordered it to install a second means of egress pursuant to N.J.A.C. 5:10-19.4(d)(3) ("Regulations for Maintenance of Hotels and Multiple Dwellings"). Thereafter, appellant requested an exception to the requirements of this regulation which requires that there be at least two independent exits remote from each other, from every floor of a multiple dwelling.
After a hearing the hearing examiner rendered a recommended decision in which he found that appellant failed to show that compliance with the regulation would result in undue hardship and that appellant failed to show that the grant of an
exception to the regulation would not unreasonably jeopardize the health, safety and welfare of the occupants. He therefore recommended that the request for an exception be denied and that appellant be required to install a second means of egress within 120 days of the Commissioner's final decision.
The Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs adopted the hearing examiner's recommended decision as his final decision.
Appellant contends that the decision of the Commissioner to deny its request for an exception to the requirement of N.J.A.C. 5:10-19.4(d)(3) was arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable.
The Hotel and Multiple Dwelling Law, N.J.S.A. 55:13A-1 et seq. , was enacted as "remedial legislation necessary for the protection of the health and welfare of the residents of this State in order to assure the provision therefor of decent, standard and safe units of dwelling space . . . ." N.J.S.A. 55:13A-2. The act is to be liberally construed in order to effectuate its purposes and intent. Ibid. The Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs is authorized to promulgate such regulations as he deems necessary to assure that any multiple dwelling "will be constructed and maintained in such manner as is consistent with, and will protect, the health, safety and welfare of the occupants . . . or of the public generally." N.J.S.A. 55:13A-7. The Commissioner has been granted specific statutory authority to issue regulations concerning methods of egress from a multiple dwelling, including fire escapes, outside fireproof stairways and additional stairways. N.J.S.A. 55:13A-7(b).
Pursuant to this express statutory authority, the Commissioner promulgated N.J.A.C. 5:10-19.4(d)(3), which provides:
Means of egress shall be maintained so as to comply with the exit requirements of the law effective and applicable as of the date of construction or of conversion to a hotel or multiple dwelling. However; there shall not be less than two independent exits remote from each other, from every floor of a building , except that only one exit may be provided from floors that are not
more than 16 feet above exterior grade in buildings not more than two stories or 30 ...