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.
“It’s time for the landlords of real-life ‘animal houses’ to take responsibility for the irresponsible actions of those they rent to,” said Senator Turner, D-Mercer. “The local municipalities shouldn’t bear the cost of repeatrdly breaking up college parties. Requiring bonds has been a proven method in shore communities for reducing disruptions coming from rentals.”
Senator Turner’s bill, S-728,would amend current law to allow municipal governing bodies statewide to adopt ordinances under which, when a rental property has become the source of at least two “substantiated complaints” in one year, the municipality may institute an administrative proceeding to require the landlord to post a bond or equivalent security to compensate for any future repetitions of such conduct.
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 often too many 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.
“College students will only live in a community for four years and many have no real connection to and feel no responsiblity for their neighbors,” said Senator Turner. “But the reality of the situation is that college towns are the home to established, vibrant communities that don’t want to be kept awake until two in the morning every day because of college parties. This bill gives those communities a weapon to combat such behavior.”
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 problems have persisted along with the complaints.
S-728 passed by a vote of 4-0 and now goes to the full Senate for their approval.