We haven’t yet seen the first snowstorm of 2019, but it’s the traditional time of year that teens begin thinking about “prom season” – and a trip “down the shore” afterwards.
In Seaside Heights, the new year has brought forth a new ordinance that places an age restriction on rentals as well as more responsibility on homeowners who choose to rent to teens, especially in the early portion of the season. The new ordinance – passed last summer following a rowdy Memorial Day weekend – specifically requires that at least one occupant be a minimum of 18 years of age and have the charge and responsibility for the proper and lawful conduct of the minors occupying the rental unit. The person 18 or older must occupy the unit through the entire rental period – and that person will be held responsible for underage drinking, illegal drug use, fights, assaults or any other incidents that occur. The adult must sign a legal lease or rental agreement prior to occupying any unit.
“We’re going to monitor it, but now we have the owners of the rental properties to make sure there is someone who is 18 or over and they’re responsible,” said Mayor Anthony Vaz. “If something happens, that person gets charged, and if it’s continuous, the owner is going to get charged. If there are numerous calls to an establishment, the landlord is going to be responsible.”
Borough Administrator Christopher Vaz has often described what came to be known in town as “the hand-off,” wherein parents would rent homes for teens but never set foot on the property. The “hand-off” left police and borough code enforcement officers to deal with the issues that arose.
The borough floated the idea of upping the minimum rental age to 21, but faced pushback and the threat of lawsuits from the owners of motels and rental properties. The borough council eventually settled on 18.
The mayor said notices about the new ordinance were posted on the borough website, sent to property owners and included with tax bills. The hope is that there will be full compliance and fewer calls to police this year.
“The kids could be the best kids in the world, great kids, but if they drink underage things can get out of hand,” said Anthony Vaz, a former schools superintendent in Spotswood. “There has to be some responsibility there.”