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Trenton, N.J. Targets Property Owners for Disruptive Tenant Behavior

TRENTON, N.J. - The Trenton City Council is considering adoption of a so-called "animal house" ordinance that would hold property owners responsible for disruptive tenants. The proposed ordinance calls for property owners to post a bond between $500 and $5,000, which the city may enforce if the tenant is found to have two or more complaints of disorderly, indecent, tumultuous or riotous conduct in or near the property in a 12-month period.

Councilwoman Marge Caldwell-Wilson, the sponsor, said this will give the city recourse to pressure out-of-town property owners to take responsibility for their properties and tenants. Opponents, including some local property owners, believe the ordinance will be ineffective because the city lacks the time or resources to enforce it. One property owner agreed that quality of life complaints should be addressed, but indicated that the behavior of tenants, not property owners, should be the proper focus.

The ordinance is limited by existing New Jersey statutes to apply only to buildings with four or fewer units; state law also allows property owners to recover from a security deposit any bond lost to a municipality due to a tenant’s behavior. However, current statutes also limit an owner’s ability to evict tenants for such violations.

The ordinance is scheduled for a final vote May 21.


Source:, The Jersey Journal, New Jersey Apartment Association