Home Police, Fire & Courts ‘Animal House’ Enforcement: Seaside Heights Suspends First Rental License Under New Law

‘Animal House’ Enforcement: Seaside Heights Suspends First Rental License Under New Law

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249 Hancock Avenue (Photo: Daniel Nee)
249 Hancock Avenue (Photo: Daniel Nee)

Seaside Heights, in its burgeoning quest to crack down on rowdy rental properties as it transitions to a family-oriented resort, has suspended the first property under its updated “Animal House” ordinance.

The first property to be sanctioned under the ordinance, which maintains a “three strikes” system, is 249 Hancock Avenue. The borough council unanimously voted at its meeting Wednesday to adopt a hearing officer’s recommendation to suspend the property’s mercantile license which enables its owner to rent out the home.

“The town is not tolerating bad property owners anymore,” said Councilman Richard Tompkins. “This is the start. It’s very important that we get this under control, because if you have bad properties in a residential area it’s a nightmare.”

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The resolution adopted by the council cites numerous incidents that led to the suspension, including:

  • A verbal argument in June 2018 that prompted multiple calls to police from neighbors.
  • A loud argument with accusations of physical contact in Oct. 2018 between tenants of the property. No arrests were made.
  • Another loud argument and disturbance the following day in Oct. 2018 wherein one tenant accused another of swinging a rope at her.
  • A verbal altercation between tenants in Dec. 2018 over a phone recording.
  • A report of “multiple intoxicated subjects” arguing and fighting on Dec. 30, 2018.
  • A report, one hour after the previous report on Dec. 30, 2018, of continuing arguing and fighting, with one arrest for trespassing on a neighboring property.
  • A report of an altercation which resulted in windows being broken Dec. 31, 2018. One person was issued a summons by borough police.

Borough Administrator Christopher Vaz said the owner of the property decided to challenge the code enforcement officer’s recommendation for suspension, however the suspension was upheld in a hearing.

The property owner said the physical layout of a shared parking area and “combustible personalities” of the tenants were to blame for the altercations, according to minutes from the hearing.

The suspension of the mercantile license will last six months.

Mayor Anthony Vaz said the borough is considering expanding its animal house ordinance to more widely penalize property owners who rent to problem tenants. Under an ordinance that will likely be considered in the near future, once a property owner has their license revoked due to violations in one property, all of the properties and units they own will also be subject to revocation or suspension.

Vaz said four additional “first strike” letters have been issued to other properties and there are several others in the works.