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RED BANK: FED UP AIRBNB OWNER PACKS IT IN

 

51 Oakland StreetThe home at 51 Oakland Street, on the left side of the attached duplex. Photos by Brian Donohue. Click to enlarge.)

By BRIAN DONOHUE

A property owner whose Oakland Street Airbnb rental was the target of neighbors’ noise complaints and borough code enforcement citations is closing down operations and selling the home out frustration.

The listing of the home 51 Oakland Street for $724,000 occurred just weeks after the mayor and council made changes to the 2023 ordinance governing short term rentals that officials said would make the ban on investors and absentee landlords easier to enforce. 

The three-bedroom attached duplex unit is also listed for rent for $10,000 a month but the Airbnb listing for the home appears to have been taken down. 

Neighbors of the home who had complained of guests having loud backyard hot tub parties late into the night said they were relieved to see the home listed for sale.

And officials said it was proof the newly revised ordinance is working to weed out operators who attempted to skirt the intent, if not the letter, of the law.

“This is immediate evidence that our new ordinance is working and enforceable,’’ said Deputy Mayor  Kate Triggiano.

The owner of 51 Oakland Street, Mike Pszczola, confirmed he was prompted to close the Airbnb business by both the new ordinance as well as citations issued to him under the older 2023 version of the law.

“I basically closed my doors and cancelled some bookings,’’ he said. “I didn’t want to cause a problem with the town. Even though I know I’m not wrong, I’ve got better things to do with my life than go to court.”

The borough issued Pszczola two summonses for violating the short term rental ordinance on Feb. 28 and June 2, according to documents obtained under an open public records request. Additional cititations were issued for installing the hot tub and pergola without required permits.

 Those violations appear to have been issued before the revised short term rental law approved by the council on May 23 took effect.

Whereas the 2023 law allowed short term rentals only in mixed use zones (including Oakland Street) the new version allows them in all residential zones. But it includes new, more strict licensing procedures to ban investor-owned rentals and to ensure only owner-occupied homes are being rented.

Pszczola referred to citations issued against him as “settled” in court but said he was done with operating an Airbnb in the environment created by the crackdown, including the newly rewritten ordinance.

He argued the town will suffer by being deprived of the visitors his and other short term rentals bring into town who spend money at restaurants and theaters.

“It’s beyond frustrating. It was a real asset to the town,” he said. “It’s the town’s loss.”

At several council meetings, neighbors of the property described loud parties running late into the night spilling out onto the hot tub in the yard. 

Pszczola  said neighbors had seized on the example of a few problem renters to paint his entire operation negatively. The vast majority of his tenants, he said, were “perfect quiet people.” 

“The neighbors used one or two guests to portray my home as being bad for the town. And that’s what the court went by.”

The new “for sale” listing for 51 Oakland Street contains hints that the home was not being used as the owner’s primary residence — a requirement of both the 2023 and revised 2024 versions of the short term rental ordinance:

“Showings are limited as the home is currently used as a Short Term Rental,’’ the listing reads. “ More photos and info can be found on the AirBnB app for this home. “

Asked whether he ever lived in the home, as required by both the old and new version of the ordinance, Pszczola told redbankgreen, “I don’t want to get into that.”

It remains to be seen whether the new ordinance will prompt other short term rental operators to follow Pszczola’s lead and pack it in. A search of Airbnb listings yesterday found several listings of entire homes for rent with no mention of whether the owner also lived there, as required by law.

And at least one full house listing includes an admission by the owner that she does not: “I live in Atlantic Highlands,” it reads.  “and currently host a house in Red Bank.”

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