It seems in the new Asbury Park, if you rent it, they will come. And according to some, money is no object.
Because Asbury Park is fast becoming a destination vacation spot, officials are worried that the same issues that plague other shore towns could soon become the norm in the city if zoning laws are not in place and enforced.
In a presentation at this week’s work session the City Council held a lengthy discussion about regulations governing summer rentals in the city.
Rob McKeon, Director of Property Maintenance and Director of Planning, Michele Alonso reviewed proposed amendments to zoning laws regarding seasonal rentals.
One of the main aspects is prohibiting summer rentals in apartments, boarding houses and multiple dwellings of three of more units.
Landlords who live in a property with one other unit, may rent out the other unit.
McKeon said a lack of manpower has led to code enforcement not being enforced.
In fact, he said there are currently 146 properties in the city listed as summer rentals and only 13 landlords have come to city hall to obtain the required Certificate of Occupancy for each property.
The new law states that landlords can pay for one CO for each property for the entire season, which was changed from landlords having to get a new CO for each new tenant.
The fear is that investors will begin buying properties in the city specifically for seasonal rentals.
City Attorney Frederick Raffetto said all the great publicity the city is getting could create a “Hampton-type market” in Asbury Park.
McKeon said he heard that one house in the city was rented out for $10,000 for the week of July 4.
On the online vacation site Air BNB, several Asbury Park rentals were listed at prices of $300 per night at The Mattison, to $430 for one billed as a cool, modern loft two blocks to the beach to a three bedroom, four blocks to the beach, listed for $400 a night.
One issue addressed was with the size of many homes in the city, multiple families will rent them together causing a parking problem in residential neighborhoods.
Alonso said requiring landlords to live on the property will in effect make them take more care as to who they will rent to.
The consensus of council is they want to have some control over the short term market.
McKeon said the result of investors buying homes only to rent them out is that in effect the property becomes a business that is plopped in the middle of residential areas.
McKeon said one resident called to complain and said, “I didn’t buy a house in Asbury Park to live next to a revolving door next door.”
Some suggestions were to limit the areas where Bed and Breakfasts could operate.
Alonso said there is “a need to regulate and control summer rentals.”
One of the major problems is the city does not have enough code enforcement officers to investigate whether landlords have obtained a CO.
McKeon said they have served summonses to some landlords, but mainly because neighbors have called asking about tenants. He also said regulations need to be followed all year long as more tourists visit the city in the fall and during the holiday season.
Councilwoman Yvonne Clayton said she is concerned that the already tight rental market will become tighter with an increase in seasonal rentals.
“Will the rental market suffer? We already have a housing shortage,” she asked.
Deputy Mayor Amy Quinn said the issue is one that will need to discussed and addressed.
“This is a much bigger issue,” she said.