Troubles at this house on Old New York Road in Port Republic led the town to adopt a new law for rental properties. Ben Fogletto

PORT REPUBLIC - It doesn't take much  stir up this quiet city. So when a group of Richard Stockton College of New Jersey students started hosting regular parties at their rental home on Old New York Road, people took notice.

"I had to call the State Police a few times when they were partying until 3 a.m.," said Erin Endicott, 39, who moved to the home next door only months before the students moved in at the start of the 2008-2009 academic year.

Roughly a year after those particular students moved out, the city council on May 11 adopted a new law regulating rental properties, which includes limits on occupancy, noise and "any unreasonable disturbance or disruption to the surrounding properties."

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The 10-page ordinance is something the city never thought it needed before, but the town found itself with few options when it came to handling complaints about the mango-colored house just north of Bates Lane.

“Typically, Port Republic doesn’t have any more ordinances than it absolutely needs to function,” until a situation arises that shows a new law is needed, said Councilman Robert Haviland.

Edward and Janis Paul, who lived at the house and raised their children there for more than 30 years before renting it out, also didn't know their property would inspire new regulations when they moved to Massachusetts in 2008.

Edward Paul, a retired Stockton chemistry professor, said they couldn't sell their longtime home because of the poor real estate environment, so they turned to renting their four-bed, 1.5 bath home to a few students.

"And it was a mistake," Paul said bluntly.

Complaints about loud noise late into the night, cars racing up and down the 45 mph road and large crowds filling the half-circle driveway caused the city to eventually call Paul at his Qunicy, Ma., home and tell him what was going on.

Living 330 miles away, it was all news to him.

"They always paid their rent on time," Paul said, "and they were perfectly nice on the phone."

Paul said that he worked with the city, college and State Police, who patrol Port Republic, to find out what was happening, and had the students agree to leave a few months before their year-long lease expired.

Information was not immediately available from Stockton about what, if any, action it took to resolve the situation. Police reports filed in response to complaints at the residence were also not available this week from State Police.

The new city law lays out basic rules for inspections, registrations, occupancy and penalties, which include fines ranging from $250 to $2,000, imprisonment and community service of up to 90 days and revocation of rental license.

It requires a landlord to conduct a tenant screening for new inhabitants, that includes checks of all criminal convictions in the past three years, and to pay $100 to register a property.

The new rules give the city a way to address issues like those experienced on Old New York Road.

“We had no control over it,” Haviland said. “Now we will.”

Paul said that, for his part, he simply plans to be more careful in the future about who he rents to.

"I wouldn't mind renting to college kids," he said, "if we knew them a little better."

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