BOROUGH MAY OFFER LANDLORDS A CARROT

179-181 ShrewsburyThe law is aimed at heading off conditions that last year led to the imposition of $36,000 in fines on the owners of 179-181 Shrewsbury Avenue.

More than a year after Mayor Pasquale Menna pledged to shame landlords by publishing the names of repeat violators of safety regulations, the owners of only one property have been tagged with the scarlet S.

Instead, having withheld the threat, the borough government is now planning to offer landlords a carrot.

Tonight, the Red Bank Council is scheduled to hold a public hearing on a proposed ordinance that would create a system of ‘deferred prosecution agreements,’ under which landlords facing possible summonses would agree to quickly correct problems or face increased fines.

The aim of the law, according to its own text, is “to provide incentives to landlords to provide safe and decent housing and to provide reasonable supervision and maintenance of their properties by avoiding criminal prosecution” for violations.

The idea is to “afford landlords with an opportunity to remediate overcrowding and other unsafe and unfit housing conditions within the Borough without undue waste of enforcement and Court resources,” according to its text.

Here’s the proposed ordinance, number 2009-7: Download 2009-7

The deferred prosecution agreements, a variation on pre-trial intervention deals for first-time criminal defendants, wouldn’t be available to landlords who knew of or appeared to condone overcrowding and other violations at their properties.

It would also allow landlords who ‘self-report’ violations at their own properties to get up to 45 days to correct the problems and avoid penalties.

The law would appear to be an effort to address concerns raised by landlords last year in response to Menna’s saber-rattling. They claimed that despite their best efforts at oversight, tenants were secretly packing properties with unregistered tenants, in violation of the existing tenant registration ordinance.

Thirteen months ago, the borough won $36,000 in fines from Iris and Miguel Acevedo, an Eatontown couple who owned 179-181 Shrewsbury Avenue, after they pleaded guilty in municipal court to 41 code violations at the property.

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