Mayor warns of illegal multiunit conversions

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ABSECON – Mayor John Armstrong warned residents to be on the lookout for the illegal conversions of single-family homes into multiple-family units.

“There are indications that the depressed economy is causing certain homeowners to illegally convert their single-family homes to multiple units,” he said in a telephone interview Wednesday, Jan. 9.

The conversions use structural changes that do not conform to the city’s building code, Armstrong said.

“The changes can place both the occupants and their neighbors in danger,” he continued. “Our residents should be aware of this risk to their neighbors.”

Armstrong said anyone who observes actions that may be a sign of multiple units in what should be single-family residences to report the activity promptly to the Absecon construction official at (609) 641-0663.

He said some residents are completing the work without getting the necessary approval.

“This is clearly a risk to everybody in our down economy,” he said. “People have to keep their eyes open and be aware of these.”

The mayor said possible indicators of a conversion could include an unusually high number of cars on a regular basis, multiple Direct TV dishes on the roof or side doors being used as main entryways.

“People know the habits of their neighbors,” he said.

Armstrong warned, however, that the city isn’t asking neighbors to go on a “witch hunt.”

“We aren’t going after the people whose homes need a fresh coat of paint,” he said; the city wants to avoid truly unsafe conditions.

For example, if a home is illegally converted, there may not be enough exits to serve as suitable fire escapes, he said.

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