A deed restriction imposed by a shore municipality on a pricey piece of close-the-beach property, which required a homeowner to live in one half the house if the other half is to be rented out, was voided by a New Jersey judge.
The deed for the Point Pleasant Beach property at issue is unenforceable and violated public policy, said Ocean County Superior Court Judge Marlene Lynch Ford.
The issue goes back to 1993, when Maria and Leslie Tirpak purchased a property on Carter Avenue in Point Pleasant Beach, according to Ford’s May 3 ruling. The house is located only blocks from the beach ,in one of the state’s most desirable ocean-front towns.
The property includes a main residence and a rental property. The Tirpak’s agreed to a demand from the town’s Board of Zoning Adjustment to include a deed restriction that the property would be occupied by an owner if the other portion were to be rented out.
Leslie Tirpak died in 2014. Maria continued to live in the main property until it became too difficult for her to maintain on her own. She moved to South Carolina and put the Point Pleasant Beach property up for sale. Her real estate agent, however, warned her that the deed restriction would be an impediment for the sale, the court said.
Tirpak sought to have the deed restriction removed, but the town refused, and Tirpak sued.
Ford said courts generally give deference to towns denying applications or variances, saying the local authorities normally are more acutely aware of local needs.
However, she said, the denial here seemed to be a bit harsh.
“The deed restriction is not reasonably [intended] to achieve some legitimate objective of the zoning ordinance,” Ford wrote.
“The deed restriction has the effect of disfavoring tenants due to their economic circumstances,” the judge said. “The deed restriction places unreasonable circumstances upon the right of the plaintiff to use and enjoy her property.
“Finally, the court finds that it is against the public policy of the state of New Jersey to discriminate against people based on their economic status as tenants,” Ford said.
The deed restriction, Ford said, has the clear effect of discriminating against renters.
Tirpak’s attorney, John Jackson III, applauded the ruling.
“There was no legitimate government interest” in mandating the deed restriction, said Jackson, of King, Kitrick, Jackson & McWeeney in Brick.
The town’s attorney, Dennis Galvin of Davison, Eastman, Munoz, Lederman & Paone in Jackson, did not return a call seeking comment.