Jackson Township police are asking for the public’s assistance in cracking down on an unusual “crime”. It’s a violation that even as I an attorney (and many of the attorneys I discussed this with) didn’t know existed: illegal swimming pool rentals.
Jackson Township ordinances 350-6 and 350-7 prohibit the rental of or advertisement of any pool rental. Authorities learned of the unlawful rentals from neighbors where the violations occurred. Code Enforcement is using social media postings to identify and gather proofs of which properties engaged in the improper conduct and are asking anyone who recognizes the online postings featuring the pools or yards in question to report them.
This took me by complete surprise. Jackson residents who received citations may have been equally surprised. Even though property ownership does come with restrictions on how one can use them, it never occurred to me that a pool could not be rented, especially given the rise of pool sharing apps such as Swimly. I wondered if this same ordinance exists in my own area.
I went to Asbury Park City Code to see if the city has similarly situated ordinances. I found the usual swimming pool regulations, pertaining to issues such as zoning, enclosures, permit costs, and property lot requirements. But what I didn’t find was an ordinance explicitly prohibiting a pool owner from renting their pool to a non-occupant of the property.
Admittedly, I was half-expecting to find a rule on this issue, given Asbury Park’s restrictions on short term rentals like AirBnb. Presumably, the policy behind prohibiting short term rentals and pool rentals overlap: to ensure the use and enjoyment of the neighboring properties is not impacted by the renters who have no attachment or concern for the local population’s quality of life. However, there are none on record that I was able to find.
I did a little more digging. Asbury Park defines a short term rental to be:
…when a property rents out their property, or a permitted part of their property (such as a bedroom), to a guest for a short (30 day or less period…Short terms rentals are usually facilitated through the use of online companies such as AirBnB, HomeAway or VRBO (Vacation Rental by Owner), and other similar websites.
The phrase “permitted part of the property” gives me pause. Could this ordinance be applied to pools? Analyzing the context of the document in its entirety suggests the restriction is only applicable to inhabitants residing in the property, rather than using a property’s features. A court may interpret it differently which potentially would expand the scope of the ordinance to include all segments of a property: a backyard, a basketball court, or a roof top deck, to name a few. Only judicial enforcement of the ordinance will provide an answer to this question.
In sum: be careful what you post online!
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Stephanie Hunnell, Esq. , Ryan Westerman, Esq. and Caitlin Holland, Esq.