BELMAR, NJ — After a summer marred by disruptive and disorderly summer renters, the Belmar Council is clamping down on “animal house” landlords by fast-tracking the borough’s authority to shut down seasonal rental properties with quality-of-life violations.

The governing body on October 20 unanimously approved revisions to its rental property ordinance that subject landlords to have their seasonal licenses revoked or suspended after two convictions of any tenant or occupant of the summer rental on complaints of “disorderly, indecent, tumultuous or riotous conduct” during a one-year licensing period.

Up until now, landlords found in violation of the borough’s so-call “animal house” law have been required to first post court-ordered bonds of up to $5,000 and be subject to forfeiting all or part of the bond with subsequent violations before a license suspension or revocation could be ordered — a long and drawn-out legal process that could take months, if not years before a summer rental license is pulled.

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Under the new ordinance, the process is dramatically accelerated in reaching that top-tiered penalty. In addition, complaints can originate not only from the actual rental premises, but “in the proximity” of the property, including such right-of-ways as the sidewalk and street.

After a public hearing drew no comments, the council passed the ordinance with Mayor Mark Walsifer, Council President Thomas Brennan, and council members Patricia Wann and Thomas Carvelli all voting in favor of it. Councilman James McCracken was not present.

Although the final votes were cast without comment, Wann and Brennan had voiced their support for tightening the regulations when the ordinance was introduced on October 6.

“This ordinance is just a beginning of what we're going to do to get on this problem,” Wann said, explaining that it was drafted in consultation with borough officials and after reviewing incident reports from the summer garnered through the borough’s Community Policing Program. “We've all worked very hard on this, and we will continue to meet throughout the winter so that when the summer comes … and these residents appear again, we’ll be ready for them.”

That means, she said, “Belmar welcomes visitors, but please, don’t destroy the town, and don’t think you can come in here and act like idiots.”

Wann’s neighborhood in the town’s southern end was particularly hit hard by the rowdy behavior in mid-June, prompting the Belmar Police Department to step up patrols.

“It's been a tough summer, extremely difficult for a lot of residents with some of the rentals,” she said. “I’ve spoken to many residents who were very upset, and who were affected, myself included.”

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Brennan said he was “really gratified” that the borough acted swiftly to develop the changes aimed at reducing disruptive behavior, calling it an important step to make this small group of landlords more accountable for their tenants’ actions.

“If they feel like they’re going to get their license yanked, then they won't be able to make the income that they're counting on … and they'll actually be responsible for the conduct of their tenants,” he said.

Ideally, Brennan said that he hopes these landlords will see the “wisdom” of switching from full summer rentals to weekly rentals — a change that could attract more vacationing families to the borough and as he put it, not having to “deal with that whole summer crowd.”

In this story’s accompanying photos, property owners of the rentals receiving the most summonses this summer are:

  • 107 18th Avenue, owned by 107 18th Realty (Vin. Falcone), and 216 18th Avenue, owned by John and David Gilmore. Both properties — each with seven violations in 2020 — are designated as animal houses and have posted bonds of $5,000 and $3,000, respectively.
  • 405 Fourth Avenue, owned by John Demaio; 212 12th Avenue owned by Vitorino and Eliza Nunez and B&M Rodrigues; 1710 B Street owned by 1710 B LLC (Douglas and Judith Keating); and 408 16th Avenue owned by 408 16th Avenue LLC (no principal listed). While 405 Fourth Avenue and 1710 B Street received six summonses each, 212 12th Avenue and 408 16th Avenue each tallied seven. All but 1710 B Street have been designated as animal houses.

The Summer of 2020: A Rundown of Rowdy Rentals

Click here for a complete list of summer rentals with summonses issued for the 2020 season. A total of 136 summonses were issued for disorderly conduct or noise violations on 50 properties. Of that total, 17 rentals have not been designated as animal houses, including 1710 B Street where seven violations occurred during the rental season.

Click here for a list of the nearly 200 summer rentals that currently hold animal house designations for having repeated quality-of-life violations. Under the proposed changes to the animal house law, they could be immediately subject to license suspension or revocation upon being convicted of two violations during the rental year.

 

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