Rowdy houses in North Wildwood face high fines

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NORTH WILDWOOD — The owners of houses with renters that get too rowdy will pay for it, under a new law passed by City Council.
It says landlords could face financial penalties of as much as $5,000 if the people they rent to become a nuisance to the city’s police department.


Mayor Bill Henfey said that council began working on the ordinance after the police department asked for “another tool in their tool kit to deal with problems.”
Under the ordinance, the owner of a property that was the source of at least two substantiated rowdy complaints may have to post a bond up to $5,000.
Henfey said the city hasn’t had a major issue with rowdy properties and he hopes this ordinance will continue to keep it that way.
“We don’t have a big problem because we’re proactive with ordinances like this,” Henfey said. “It is a quality of life issue.”
Henfey said a “party house” list is maintained by police. It tracks properties that have been identified as troublesome, the source of frequent complaints and police responses.
Being on the list means that police keep an extra eye on the properties.
Under the new ordinance, that extra police attention could be costly.
After a property receives two complaints of “disorderly, indecent, tumultuous or riotous conduct” and a tenant of that property is convicted of a disorderly offense, the city can hold a hearing to determine what penalty the landlord will face.
The hearing officer, a licensed attorney, will determine the bond amount which could range between $500 and $5,000. That money will compensate the city for future expenses related to new complaint calls at the property.
If the property then avoids any other incidents for the next four years, the bond would be discharged and the money returned, according to the ordinance.
Neighboring Wildwood also approved a rowdy house ordinance in September 2011 that was designed to put pressure on the owners of properties that routinely require the attention of police and fire code inspectors.  
Wildwood identifies nuisance properties based on the number of calls for visits from police and code inspectors. Then the city can place liens on properties that cost the city money.
These properties could be placed on a 60-day probationary period, as well as subject to a hearing and fines if a hearing officer finds it warranted.


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