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Rental agencies tightening restrictions to limit large house parties

Extra measures are being taken to tighten restrictions on large indoor gatherings at rental properties after Gov. Phil Murphy said an increase in COVID-19 cases is linked to house parties.

On Friday, Murphy reported 699 new cases, the highest number of single-day cases in the state reported in more than a month. While he didn’t make any major announcements at his COVID-19 news briefing, he said to consider the state “as being put on notice.”

“We will not tolerate these devil-may-care, nonchalant attitudes anymore,” he said. “Wear a mask. Stop hosting house parties. Now.”

Locally, one party on Long Beach Island led to an outbreak among Harvey Cedars lifeguards, sidelining nearly three dozen. A graduation party in Cape May County in late June led to 46 COVID-19 cases among New Jersey and Pennsylvania residents from the ages of 16 to 23.

In response to Murphy’s declaration that indoor house parties must end, real estate agents are enacting stricter measures to protect the health and safety of residents and visitors.

The city of Brigantine has an ordinance that states the city can take action on a landlord if it receives more than two complaints with regard to “disorderly or riotous conduct” at a rental property in a 12-month period.

“The municipality has really tightened on that pre-COVID,” said Angela Reynolds of Weichert Realtors in Brigantine. “Since COVID, it’s been the Realtor’s responsibility to be certain that that’s really what’s going on. From our office specifically, we’re very diligent in checking out the tenants, shying away from things that appear to be a younger group, not to be discriminatory, but bachelor parties … that kind of thing, or something that would lend itself to adding more and more people (indoors).”

She said the ordinance started out as “an annoyance factor” and to ensure “peacefulness in neighborhoods.”

COVID-19 UPDATES: Atlantic County reports 26 new cases, 5 deaths

Atlantic County health officials reported 26 additional COVID-19 cases and 5 more deaths on Wednesday. The deaths included two Galloway men, a 67 and 70-year-old, a 64-year old Atlantic City man, a 91-year-old Egg Harbor Township man and a 94-year-old Pleasantville woman.

And since the pandemic, Weichert is stressing the ordinance even more.

“Between the municipality and each individual office, I think it really has become a priority for us to do a higher screening factor and take everyone’s safety into consideration,” Reynolds said.

On Friday, Airbnb suspended or removed 35 listings in New Jersey that have received complaints or violated the online renting platform’s policies on parties and events.

Some of those listings were in Atlantic City, Brigantine, Stafford Township and Ventnor. The addresses of the listings were not provided out of respect for the privacy of the hosts.

“We stand with Gov. Murphy, and we support his call to action to stop parties and promote behavior that respects the public’s health,” said Chris Lehane, senior vice president of global policy & communications for Airbnb. “We ban party houses and will not tolerate irresponsible behavior on our platform. We know that there is still more work to be done. We ask that neighbors contact us as soon as possible through our Neighborhood Support Hotline, to directly communicate any concerns, which will help us continue to effectively enforce our party house ban.”

Additionally, Airbnb recently implemented restrictions on some U.S. guests under the age of 25 from booking entire home listings in their local area, unless they have a history of positive reviews on the website.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

breaking featured
Police standoff at Pleasantville condo complex ends after seven hours

PLEASANTVILLE — Police and firefighters surrounded the Skyline Condominiums for seven hours Thursday after a man threatened to blow up his home, finally removing him via SWAT team.

Authorities received a call about 3:15 p.m., after which some residents of the complex were evacuated and no one was allowed to drive in.

Both the Pleasantville police and fire departments were on the scene, as were the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office and SWAT team and the Egg Harbor Township and Absecon police departments. The gas and electricity to the man’s building were shut off almost within the hour.

The man police addressed as Tyrone has lived at Skyline for eight years, according to neighbor Jean Harris. She said he has mental health issues and police are there on a regular basis.

“I’d like to know who’s protecting Pleasantville while they’re all here,” Harris said. “I feel sorry for him, but that’s what’s happening. The state pays for him to be in that apartment.”

Police did not disclose Tyrone’s full name.

On Thursday afternoon, Victor Carmona, a Pleasantville police chaplain and local maintenance man, arrived at Tyrone’s second-story apartment to fix a leak that had worked its way into the unit downstairs.

Tyrone didn’t want Carmona, whom he knows works with the local police, in the apartment. He told Carmona if he came in with police, Tyrone would have a surprise for them.

“That’s why I called, to make sure everyone’s safe,” Carmona said. “I know he’s got problems.”

COVID-19 UPDATES: Atlantic County reports 26 new cases, 5 deaths

Atlantic County health officials reported 26 additional COVID-19 cases and 5 more deaths on Wednesday. The deaths included two Galloway men, a 67 and 70-year-old, a 64-year old Atlantic City man, a 91-year-old Egg Harbor Township man and a 94-year-old Pleasantville woman.

Carmona said a similar event had happened before when he’d needed to enter Tyrone’s apartment to check a leak. In that instance, he’d successfully been allowed to enter with a couple police officers. He’d fixed the pipe, and the next day Tyrone saw Carmona and apologized.

The Skyline Condos, off Franklin Boulevard, consist of 16 close buildings with eight units in each building. Firetrucks were placed around the perimeter of the complex. Firefighter Anton Brown said the Ventnor Fire Department was covering Pleasantville during the situation.

Tyrone broke the glass in three of his windows and had the door to his patio barricaded. At 5:16 p.m., police began attempting to get Tyrone’s attention with a bullhorn, as he wasn’t responding to phone calls. An hour later, Tyrone started yelling to the police through the broken windows.

Police asked him to come outside, reiterating over and over that he hadn’t done anything wrong and that they just needed to be sure he was OK. At least 20 police vehicles were present in addition to the county SWAT van and two bike units.

The standoff continued until a little after 10 p.m., when the SWAT team conducted what Pleasantville police Capt. Matt Hartman described as a limited breach. Initially, they forced the door open but remained outside in hopes of persuading Tyrone to come out on his own.

When he wouldn’t, officers entered, cleared the apartment and brought him outside to a waiting medical team, Hartman said. Tyrone had suffered cuts earlier in the day after clearing broken glass from his windows using his bare hands. He was taken to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, City Campus, for medical and psychological evaluation.

No officers were injured.

Staff Writer Molly Bilinski contributed to this report.

GALLERY: Police standoff at Skyline Condos in Pleasantville