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Turner Bill To Extend “Animal House” Provisions Passes Senate Panel

TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner that would allow all municipalities to require landlords of animal houses to post bonds passed the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee today.

“When our local police officers must repeatedly break up college parties at these ‘animal houses’, they are distracted from their primary job of protecting the community,” said Senator Turner, D-Mercer. “It’s time for the landlords of these buildings to take responsibility for the irresponsible actions of their tenants. Requiring bonds has been a proven method in shore communities for reducing disruptions coming from rentals and now it will be an option in all communities.”

Senator Turner’s bill, S 1214, 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.

“This will be particularly helpful for those communities with colleges and universities. Unfortunately, some students completely disregard the interest of the neighborhoods in which they live during their college years,” said Senator Turner. “But the reality of the situation is that college towns are usually home to established, vibrant residents who don’t want to be kept awake until two in the morning every day because of college parties.”

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 “animal houses” after the slovenly fraternity in the movie “Animal House.” Under current law such measures to curb “animal houses” can only be taken in municipalities located in counties of the fifth or sixth class such as New Jersey’s Shore towns. The “Animal House Law,” adopted in 1993 was created to offer year-round residents of Shore communities some relief from seasonal renters who leave the communities once Labor Day passes.

Senator Turner also noted that the Ewing Township Council, has passed ordinances 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.

Additionally, Senator Turner hopes that bill will help to crack down on landlords who overcrowd their rental properties.

“I’ve received complaints from constituents about absentee landlords who rent out homes to groups of people that far exceed the reasonable number of people who should live in that home. I expect this legislation will help to curb that practice, as well,” added Senator Turner.

S-1214 passed by a vote of 3-1 and now goes to the full Senate for their consideration.

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