Memorial Day Weekend produced more than 500 calls to borough police for service, in time for borough officials to compile data and revoke the business licenses of rental properties that have been the location of ongoing problems.
“There were over 500 police calls, and we’re estimating right now that there will be about 40 mercantile complaints going out by the end of this week,” Borough Administrator Christopher Vaz said.
Seaside Heights has placed considerable efforts on quality-of-life issues in recent years, tightening its rental ordinances and mandating that all rental properties must have a responsible party age 18 or above at a property at all times. The borough had initially sought to restrict rentals to those age 21 and over, but property owners threatened legal action and it was determined such an ordinance would be unlikely to stand. Borough officials, this week, will review complaints from the past year-to-date, and landlords whose properties have produced three or more incidents will face the loss of their ability to rent.
“For those with less than three, they are getting first and second warnings,” Vaz said, adding that he monitored police communications during the holiday weekend alongside Police Chief Thomas Boyd and the borough’s code enforcement officers.
Executive orders that preclude evictions due to the coronavirus pandemic do not apply for rental units with unruly tenants, Borough Attorney Jean Cipriani said, meaning landlords are not excused from allowing foul behavior to continue. The executive order was specific in its language that evictions were not to occur due to nonpayment of rent. Evictions for “good cause” have been successful, and Cipriani said her colleagues have been involved in such cases in other towns.
“It’s not about the tenant,” Vaz said. “It’s about the owner being accountable for what goes on in the rental unit. Our focus in on owner accountability. But I can tell you the police are out there writing summonses to the tenants too.”
Property owners who receive revocation notices will have the opportunity to request a hearing and explain any special circumstances or affirmative defenses to a hearing officer. A notice of a mercantile license revocation is, in and of itself, a tool property owners can use to help evict problem tenants.
The issue, officials said, is that property owners continue to rent to teenagers who do not respect quality-of-life ordinances.
“We had quite a number of owners who contacted the police this weekend,” Vaz said. “They rented to teenagers and the parties got out of hand. It goes back to, ‘What were you thinking when you rented to a bunch of high school kids, one of whom was 18?’”