Berkeley Targets “Party House” Rentals

Photo by Chris Lundy

BERKELEY – Township officials are addressing people listing their houses online for short-term rentals to vacationers, citing an increase in tenants who want use the houses to party and disrupt the neighborhood.

Glen Cove and Bayville shore areas have a different feel than other parts of town. No one would be surprised to see weekend rentals in a shore community, but the waterfront areas of Bayville have become year-round residences for most of homeowners.

Online sites like AirBnB allow people to list their homes. A vacationer can stay in the home for one night or more. They can also just rent one room, if that’s all they need. For example, right now on AirBnB, there’s a two-bedroom bungalow on a lagoon in Bayville listed for $200 a night. There is another house listed on the Toms River, but located in Berkeley. A single room in that house, where the owner is currently living, costs $50 a night.

Photo by Chris Lundy

Councilman James Byrnes suggested an ordinance that would require minimum stays of six months or more.

Some of them are houses damaged by Superstorm Sandy, he said. Some of them are absentee owners, who live in other states and are trusting the renters to be good tenants.

“These can turn into party houses,” he said.

The council is looking at drafting legislation that would prevent people from renting to bad tenants, but would also not penalize people who are good neighbors wanting to make a little money off their real estate.

“I don’t want to hurt anyone, but I don’t want people in Colorado renting out Sandy houses,” he said.

Ken Anderson, the township code inspector, agreed that there is a problem.

“We do need to change our ordinance,” he said. The ordinance does not differentiate between the beach community and the mainland.

Additionally, when properties are rented out to someone new, ideally they should be inspected. The township doesn’t have the manpower to inspect these homes every week.

“We are starting to have more of an issue,” he said, noting that there are at least five problem houses where tenants are disturbing homeowners.

Photo by Chris Lundy

Toms River is having a similar problem. The bulk of the town is inland, but there are some shore areas, such as Ortley Beach. The characters of both areas of town are very different.

In May, in order to combat “transient” guests, the Toms River Township Council changed the ordinance governing rental properties.

The change shortened the number of days someone can stay in shore areas, because those are the areas that property owners want a quick turnaround of guests. Outside of the barrier island, the minimum stay was seven days.

Additionally, landlords would have to register as landlords with the township and display a permit.

Some Toms River residents criticized the ordinance because they said it curtailed inland lagoon property owners who wanted to earn income.

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Chris Lundy is News Editor at Micromedia. He has covered Ocean County news and features in various publications since 2003. Lundy worked for Gannett with articles in The Beacon, Observer and Asbury Park Press. He's also written for the Community Connection, Patch and ShoreBeat.