Turner Bill To Allow All Towns To Fight “Animal House” Behavior

TRENTON – The Senate today voted 34-0 to approve a bill sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner to allow all towns to pass “Animal House” laws to force landlords of structures with four or fewer units to post bonds of up to $25,000 to cover expenses related to bad behavior by tenants.

“Bad behavior like loud, late-night, parties by college students living off-campus can destroy a neighborhood,” said Senator Turner, D-Mercer. “This proposal extends the existing ‘Animal House’ law now limited to shore communities to a statewide basis.”

Senator Turner continued, ABy requiring landlords to post bonds on properties that have historically been disruptive to the community, we’re holding them accountable and forcing them to take responsibility for keeping their tenants in check.”

Senator Turner=s bill, S 869, would expand the “1993 Animal House Law” to allow municipal governing bodies statewide to adopt ordinances which would require the landlords of properties where tenants have been repeatedly convicted of disorderly, indecent, tumultuous or riotous conduct to post a bond or other security. The bond would be used to compensate for any future damage or expense the municipality or its residents suffer from the repetition of such conduct by tenants in the future, according to the bill.

“Requiring bonds has been a proven method in shore communities for reducing disruptions coming from rentals. Now it will be an option in all communities, especially those that are home to our colleges and universities,” explained Senator Turner.

The genesis of the bill is a litany of complaints from various residents about college renters regarding late night parties, loud noise, trash, an excessive number of parked cars and absentee landlords. Rowdy off-campus living quarters of some college students are referred to as Aanimal houses@ after the slovenly fraternity in the 1978 movie of the same name.

Senator Turner also noted that “animal houses” are the exception and not the rule.

AUnfortunately, some students completely disregard the interest of the neighborhoods in which they spend their college years,@ said Senator Turner. AThey don’t realize that college towns are home to established, vibrant communities who don=t want to be kept awake until all hours every night because of college parties.”

According to Senator Turner, the problems caused by rowdy tenants and absentee landlords is not only limited to college towns and shore communities, but has also grown in the State’s urban communities.

Senator Turner also noted that the Ewing Township Council has passed ordinances in past years in an effort to regulate drinking and rental inspections, and officials have worked more closely with college administrators in recent years to educate students about their responsibilities as tenants. However, the township reports that problems have persisted along with the complaints.

The bill now goes to the Assembly.