Toms River landlords could suffer for tenant crimes

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A new law would allow Toms River to strip a rental certificate of occupancy from a property where a tenant engages in criminal activity.(Photo: Jean Mikle)
TOMS RIVER – A new law gives the township the power to strip landlords of their rental certificates of occupancy if criminal activity takes place in their properties.
The revised housing and rental property ordinance was adopted late last month by the Township Council. The new law will take effect later this month.
Under the measure, landlords have rental COs revoked or suspended for a period of up to one year for a variety of infractions, including:
– Renting a unit to a tenant (or tenants) who is convicted of any crime or offense during their time living at the rental property. – Criminal or illegal activity occurring on the premises, or engaged in by the occupants, whether or not the activity results in an arrest, charge or conviction. – Conduct by residents of a rental unit that creates a nuisance or disturbs the peace and quiet of the neighborhood. – Conditions at the rental property that make the premises unsafe, unhealthy or unfit for occupancy. – Maintaining or using the rental in a way that creates a dangerous condition that could result in injury to people or destruction of property, or in a way that violates federal and state building codes, as well as local health, safety, building, construction and property maintenance codes.
Rental COs can be suspended or revoked for up to a year.
Township Administrator Paul J. Shives said that the rental CO ordinance revisions came about after Toms River received a complaint about a rental property.
After reviewing existing ordinances, township officials realized they had no laws in place that allows them to deal with complaints regarding illegal activities at rental properties, or unsafe conditions at rentals, Shives said.
Alizar Zorojew, executive director of Downtown Toms River, the township’s business improvement district, expressed concern about the rental CO measure.
“If that tenant commits a crime, the landlord’s certificate of occupancy can be revoked?” Zorojew asked. He questioned whether landlords would be improperly penalized for tenants’ actions.
Township Attorney Kenneth B. Fitzsimmons said the township would work with landlords who are experiencing problems with tenants.
The certificate of occupancy will be automatically suspended if taxes are delinquent for three consecutive quarters, if the property is issued a third notice of violation, or if an owner receives three notices for renting a room or apartment without first obtaining a rental CO.
Property owners can appeal the suspension or loss of a rental CO with the township’s Law Division.
*Jean Mikle: 732-643-4050, jmikle@gannettnj..com*
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