Friday, September 22, 2023

State Says Condo Owners Can Rent Despite Violations

By Rick Racela

WILDWOOD – As rental season heats up, homeowners who received notices of violation from the Joint Construction Office of the Wildwoods (JCOW) were worried that they would be left out in the cold.
Now it seems that the condo owners are in for some good news.
According to an April 6 letter from the state Department of Community Affairs (DCA) to city Solicitor Marc Karavan, “the department has no objection to allowing the owners of said properties to continue to enjoy the use of these structures while the code violations are rectified by the builders who created the problem.” 
The letter states, “During the abatement process there is no need to refuse to allow occupancy of the units in question. They are not per say unsafe.”
But will the city agree with the DCA?
Mayor Ernie Troiano Jr., said the city is “erring on the side of caution.”
“We want to be sure to check with our insurance agent and double check with the state to make sure that the city will not be held responsible if something were to happen,” said Troiano.
Previously, Wildwood had determined not to grant those condo owners, who received violation notices from JCOW, any Certificates of Occupancy, Continuing Certificate of Occupancy, or mercantile licenses as long as the buildings code issues are not resolved.
Troiano told the Herald that the liability for the condo owner and the city would be enormous if renters were allowed to occupy units with known fire hazards.
“Its another frustrating part of this whole situation. The homeowners are the victims here,” said Troiano.
Eric Satterthwaite purchased his condo on Lincoln Avenue in late September with the intention of renting it to offset the costs.
“I rely on rental income to meet our mortgage payments,” said Satterthwaite. “Are we going to loose our condos and have our financial lives ruined?”
In February, after reviews by state Department of Community Affairs “drive-by” inspections and examination of architect plans, approximately 500 units in 79 properties in both Wildwood and North Wildwood were identified as being in violation.
Notices from JCOW construction official Mario Zaccaria said that, “during a recent sampling of properties in the Wildwoods, the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs concluded that a number of properties, such as yours, had been misdesignated in the permitting process.”
The letter explained that the developer or designer treated the buildings like it was designated R-3.
“In fact, upon review, it appears that the proper designation would be R-2,” stated the notice.
R-2 properties are required to meet certain standards regarding firewall separation, fire-suppression systems, and means of exit for occupants given the number of units.
Contact Huggins at: (609) 886-8600 ext. 25 or

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