For years, Lakewood has looked the other way as we allowed people in our community to take advantage of the need for low income housing by renting out homes in substandard conditions, and allowing tenants to sublet rooms to many families under one roof.
-An Asbury Park Press investigation found a number of rentals in Lakewood lacked basic permits, were overcrowded, infested with roaches and put their tenants, their children and first responders at risk of fire, electrocution and other hazards.
The Press randomly visited rentals in immigrant neighborhoods and found most had multiple families living in homes built for single families. Yet township records show that just three properties were cited last year for overcrowding violations.
Less than a week into his first term as Lakewood’s mayor, Albert Akerman, reacted with surprise to his town’s low violation numbers. But Committeman Meir Lichtenstein and former mayor Robert W. Singer acknowledged that its staff may not be enough for this township of 90,000 people.
In its investigation, The Press found:
• Just one of the 11 homes The Press visited had a valid certificate of occupancy, the town’s guarantee that a home is safe to live in that also establishes how many people may live there. One of the homes later obtained a certificate of occupancy.-
These numbers were not at all surprising. The inspection department has basically given up on giving out violations to certain people.
The inspection department, like many other departments in our town, do as they are told (but that is a whole other article). They have no mandate to routinely inspect older homes. This laisez-faire attitude is just another black eye to the image of Lakewood.
Unfortunately we only have two eyes and we used those up long ago.
We need to ask our committeemen to require housing inspections once a year on all homes and businesses that were built before 1990. Older homes pose special risks and need repairs and upkeep.
As a landlord myself, I now appreciate the strict laws of Los Angeles county that inspect my properties regularly. They keep me informed of any damages tenants have done, and force me to keep my buildings maintained which increases their value and prevents me from causing any harm to tenants or my people's good name.