MENNA: LANDLORD CRACKDOWN COMING

MennapringleMayor Pasquale Menna, left, and borough attorney Ken Pringle, who’s also the mayor of Belmar.

Today’s Asbury Park Press has a story about a plan by Mayor Pasquale Menna to go on the offensive against residential landlords who allow their properties to become overcrowded or rife with code violations.

From the story:

Bad landlords, beware. The world, or at least the borough, will know your name and misdeeds, starting Monday under a plan by Mayor Pasquale “Pat” Menna to publish the names of the worst offenders.

Menna announced his plan earlier this month, and on Jan. 14 said the program will be rolled out Monday as part of the borough’s ongoing crackdown on building code violations and overcrowding, especially on the west side of town.

“As early as the next council meeting (Jan. 28), we’ll have a list of the first offenders,” Menna said. “We’ll make that public.”

The plan takes a page out of Mayor Ken Pringle’s playbook in Belmar, where he has used that borough’s website as a forum to out “animal houses” by locator maps and other data. Pringle is Red Bank’s longtime borough attorney.

In Belmar, of course, he problem is summer rentals by young singles looking for a wild time. In Red Bank, the issue is overcrowding of year-round or itinerant tenants, many of them undocumented and not accounted for in borough rental registrations.

Nearby homeowners have complained about such properties as contributing to noise, litter, public urination and other quality-of-life violations.

Still unclear, however, is what the criteria for a public flogging of a property owner will be. Any code violation in a house that’s registered with the borough as a rental property or should be? At various times, Menna has said the approach would apply to those landlords who “plead guilty” in municipal court to housing violations and to “repeat offenders.”

He also hasn’t been shy about injecting class into the issue, saying that people whose photos appear regularly in “the society pages” and live in Rumson or Colts Neck are about to be taken down a peg for the way they treat their Red Bank properties and tenants.

Clearly, Menna is anticipating some pushback.

More from the Press:

“I’ve asked the borough attorney to come up with a proposal that I think is some what revolutionary on recidivist landlords who buck the system,” Menna said.

But the mayor is not giving up details until he is ready to introduce the proposal at the end of this month.

“Because of the sensitive nature, we don’t want to tip our hands,” he said. “It will go a long way demonstrate to out-of-town landlords that we mean business about what they’ve done to our neighborhoods.”

One thing is clear: Menna is sticking to his guns.

“We might have to be a test case,” he said.

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