An ordinance that would hold landlords responsible for renting to trouble-making tenants passed the township council unanimously Tuesday night.
The ordinance requires any landlord whose tenants violate either criminal or municipal laws more than twice in a 24 month period to post a bond against future incidents. The bond will be between $500 and $5,000 and can be forfeited if additional “substantiated complaints” are generated by tenants. If a bond is required to be posted by the landlord, the township will keep the bond for a period of two to four years, depending on the determination of a hearing officer who will be appointed by township officials.
After the bond is posted, the township will be empowered to initiate legal proceedings to require the forfeiture of the bond from the landlord if additional “substantiated complaints” are generated by tenants. The forfeiture could be partial or whole, or there could be an extension of the bond holding period as an alternative or additional penalty. In the case that a bond is forfeited, a landlord would have the right to recover those funds from the tenant through additional legal proceedings.
After the ordinance is triggered, a landlord will have an opportunity to plead his or her case before the hearing officer, who will consider evidence presented by both the landlord as well as the municipality, including prior complaints about the residents of a rental property, even if no criminal conviction resulted from those complaints.
The proposal is similar to an ordinance on the books in Belmar, which is widely credited with eliminating “animal house” style rentals there and transitioning the town to a year-round community.
The council began looking into ordinance that would regulate the rental market after residents from the Maple Leaf Park condominium development began attending meetings last fall and speaking out on crime issues there. Councilwoman Marianna Pontoriero, a vocal proponent of the pending ordinance, said it is one of several measures the council will undertake the help put the brakes on crime in multi-family housing development throughout Brick.