Council Approves Revised Rental Sticker System

OCEAN CITY – Property owners will have no excuse when it comes to noise complaints or rental licenses now that the Noise Board’s request to re-implement a sticker system has been approved.

According to Noise Board Chairman Brett Wolf, the board has been meeting in efforts to improve and streamline the application of the Noise Code, the collection of data required by the Noise Code and the required notification process because a number of problems occurred in 2011.

An issue has occurred with the timeliness of property owners receiving notifications of their tenants being in violation of the Noise Code, which is submitted through certified mail.

At this week’s meeting, the Noise Board requested approval to implement a sticker system based on the Property Control Number, which each property in Ocean City is assigned. A database has been created providing a police officer the ability to search by the control number to obtain a contact number to notify the emergency/local contact person listed for the property.

“Notifications were being sent 30 days after the occurrence so by the time the property owner gets the notification it comes to the Noise Board and there is nothing the property owner can do to address the problem because too much time has passed,” Wolf explained. “Unfortunately, for some people if they have a second occurrence before they get notice of the first occurrence they are at risk of losing their license and their permit.”

Wolf added that there are other benefits to the system such as assisting Ocean City in collecting unpaid rental license fees from property owners who are renting without a license and have a noise complaint.

“There is a huge amount of money that is owed to the city that the city is not collecting from people who are renting without a license,” Wolf said. “So what happens is when the police department goes to respond to a noise call there is no sticker, so now they’re either not abiding by the law and there is a potential fine involved or they are renting without a license and the city’s in position to collect the money they are already due.”

Another benefit to the sticker system is it would allow emergency responders to make immediate contact if there is an incident at the property.

“This would eliminate all of the lag time and it would also allow emergency responders, whether it’s a broken pipe, a fire, wind damage, or any particular reason for someone from the town to be at that property, and if it was a rental than that control number would be available and then they would be able to contact somebody,” Wolf said.

The amended Noise Ordinance will read, “No real property situated within the corporate limits of Ocean City shall be used to provide shelter on a temporary basis unless a permit for such use shall have been issued by the Noise Control Board and the permit control number shall be conspicuously displayed on the front door of said real property in a manner prescribed and provided by the board…any person required to obtain the aforesaid permit who does not obtain and display same shall not be entitled to obtain a business or occupation license.”

In response to the Noise Control Board’s request, License Inspector Michael Sherman explained that a sticker system was used in the past but in 2009 the decision was made to eliminate it because towards the end of 2008 License Inspector Rich Mason informed the city that by eliminating the stickers it would save money on rental license forms at that time. Mason furthered that the stickers were not used for its intended purpose.

Councilman Joe Hall questioned if the input of a property address into the system could substitute the use of the sticker system and the property’s control number in order to receive contact information.

Ocean City Police Department Captain Kevin Kirstein said it is possible to sort the database by address but for an officer to confirm an address can be difficult at times. He used the areas of 3rd and 4th streets as an example where address numbers are the same for the north/south and east/west streets.

“The problem there is just speaking from my own experiences over the years determining the exact physical address for any rental property in this town is very difficult sometimes … the easiest search would be by control number,” Kirstein said.

The council voted unanimously, with Councilman Brent Ashley absent, to approve the request to have license control number stickers posted on rental unit doors.