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Howell Township Council adopts ordinance banning short-term rentals

HOWELL – The members of the Howell Township Council have adopted an ordinance that prohibits the short-term rental of housing units and amenities, prohibits the advertisement of rentals and and amends penalties for violations.

During a meeting on Sept. 14, Mayor Theresa Berger, Deputy Mayor Thomas Russo, Councilman John Bonevich, Councilwoman Pamela Richmond and Councilwoman Evelyn O’Donnell voted “yes” on a motion to adopt the ordinance.

The ordinance states that no rental facility, rental unit or dwelling may be rented or leased for less than 90 days.

In regard to the rental of amenities, “the lease or rental for any purpose and for any period of time, of any amenity, feature or accessory that is appurtenant to or associated with any rental facility, rental unit or dwelling … is prohibited.”

“Amenity, feature or accessory” includes, but is not limited to, swimming pools, pool cabanas, accessory structures, hot tubs, decks, patios, yards and the like, according to the ordinance.

The ordinance also prohibits the advertisement of rentals.

The ordinance does not amend the portion of the municipal law regarding nuisances. The ordinance still states that “no rental facility shall be used in a manner which will result in any unreasonable disturbance or disruption to the surrounding properties and property owners or of the public in general, such that it would constitute a nuisance …”

Regarding penalties, the ordinance states that “any landlord, tenant, property owner or other person violating the provisions of this section shall be subject to the penalty provisions of this chapter.

“The township shall also have the right to enjoin violations of this section in any court … All costs attendant to enforcement … shall be assessed as a lien against the subject property … ”

Any person who violates the law, upon conviction, will be liable for a fine not exceeding $2,000. Each day a violation occurs will be deemed a separate and distinct violation subject to the penalty provisions …

During the public hearing that was held prior to the council’s vote to adopt the ordinance, resident Charles Teator said he and his wife purchased their Bock Boulevard home in July 2018.

“When we moved in, the house immediately next door was vacant and was nearing completion of being renovated. During the summer of 2020, that home was occupied by the owner’s brother and family, they kept to themselves and would be neighborly when we saw them.

“The home was eventually sold in May of this year to a woman and her family. Within the first two weeks … they advised us that they live in Brooklyn and this was going to be their vacation home for the weekends,” Teator said.

He said that is when he started to see different cars in the home’s driveway.

“Some days it would be one car and other days there would be four or five cars in the driveway. We would notice numerous people walking around (and) pointing at our house as they walked by.

“We noticed litter would be on our front lawn, as well as cigarette butts lying around, which at the time, nobody in my neighborhood smokes. We had begun to fear they were renting the house as an Airbnb, (but) we were unable to find it anywhere online to rent,” Teator said.

He said that on July 24 his fear became a reality.

“At 9:30 p.m. two men came to my door, and I have two children and three large dogs. The man advised me he was renting the house next door and he was asking me if I knew of a car service because he needed to get his car which was across town.

“Since that day we have noticed the rental situation get worse. Renters seem to come and go even quicker.

“The most recent renters had a party each of the four days they were there, which were all work days. Three garbage cans were at the curb for several days, full and overflowing, and up against the garage there were anywhere from 10 to 15 garbage bags, much more than a normal household would have,” Teator said

He said the situation shows a lack of respect for the neighborhood.

Several other Bock Boulevard residents echoed Teator’s comments and one resident told municipal officials that the most recent party at the house in question made it impossible to work from home.

The council members then took action to adopt the ordinance which bans short-term rentals.

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