BRICK TOWNSHIP — The township council voted unanimously to send an ordinance that would require landlords to do a criminal background check on prospective renters back to committee.
At the June 12 meeting landlords that live in the township, as well as two members of the New Jersey National Association for the Advancement of Colored People [NAACP] spoke at a public hearing on the ordinance, claiming that the proposal was unfair to landlords as well as opened up the renting process to discrimination
“The only problem I have [with the ordinance] is that it could be discriminatory,” Frederick Rush, head of the Ocean County NAACP said at the meeting.
“I understand we have to have certain laws, but I think this is one that doesn’t hold water.”
According to the tentative ordinance, owners of rental properties would be responsible to conduct screenings of tenants and new renters.
Screenings that would be required include checking with the Superior Court of the State of New Jersey in Toms River on a tenant’s previous residence over the past three years.
Any adult tenant would be checked for offenses at the municipal and Superior Court levels over the prior three years as well.
A Certificate of Occupancy would not be granted, according to the proposed ordinance, unless proof of an adequate screening could be provided.
In an interview after a council meeting in May when the ordinance was introduced, Mayor John Ducey said the goal was to target criminal activity in some rental properties in the township.
“We have a number of rentals properties where landlords are not careful about who they rent to and there is some criminal activity in some of these houses,” Mayor Ducey said.
“There are some drug dealers that you read about in the paper where there are various raids that happen and invariably it comes back that it’s renters. It’s not people who own houses and care about our town.”
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