The purpose of Belmar’s Animal House Ordinance is to preserve the peace and tranquility of the community by curbing and discouraging those occasional excesses arising from the actions of irresponsible tenants of seasonal rental properties and their guests. Belmar’s Animal House ordinance was adopted in 1998 pursuant to enabling legislation enacted by the New Jersey Legislature, N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.12(n), et seq., which recognized the severe problems that have plagued Shore area resort communities as a result of seasonal rental properties. The public is encouraged to seek reparation for their actual damages caused by Animal House offenses by contacting the Office of Code Enforcement.
A property is only designated an Animal House after an administrative law hearing has been held and the hearing officer has found that in any twenty four-month period, two complaints on separate occasions, of “disorderly, indecent, tumultuous or riotous” conduct have been substantiated by prosecution and convictions in any court of competent jurisdiction where such conduct was found to have taken place upon or in proximity to the seasonal rental premises and was attributable to the tenants of such seasonal rental property. Acts that may result in a property being designated an Animal House may include by way of example, but are not limited to, (a) simple assault, (b) assault, (c) terrorist threats, (d) harassment, (e) lewdness, (f) urinating in public, (g) criminal mischief, (h) or excessive noise and other criminal acts.
Unless a landlord is able to demonstrate that he has taken effective action to prevent such problems, he can be required to a post a bond of up to $5,000.00. In the event the property is the source of another substantiated quality-of-life violation within a 4-year period following the posting of the bond, the Borough may draw against the bond to fund th cost of repressing future violations.
In 2004, the Borough began taking steps to repress further Animal House violations by hiring and posting Monmouth County Sheriff’s Officers outside the Animal House properties on weekend evenings. The cost of the Sheriff’s Officers can be as much as $1,000 per weekend, which is charged against the bond posted by the landlord. This measure has been extremely effective, and it has not been necessary to issue any further summonses against the occupants of any these properties.