Jersey Shore Summer Renters Beware

There may be no Snookie in this story, but it's certainly a situation. If you thought your New Jersey real estate agent has to tell you of known dangers that might lead you to reconsider a summer rental, think again. The N.J. Supreme Court ruled this month that agents can keep quiet about property dangers to short-term renters. If you're looking for a Jersey Shore rental for the summer you'd probably like to think there's equal protection under the law, but the ruling means renters won't get the same property information from real estate agents as buyers.
The court's recent 3-3 ruling upheld a decision that real estate agents do not have to warn someone renting a summer home of "any reasonably discoverable dangerous condition in the home." The court said that an agent's responsibilities for short-term and summer rentals are different than if they are selling a property.

The decision came as a result of a 2003 case in Stone Harbor. A 72-year-old renter, Hermes Reyes, went out a sliding glass door, didn't feel a step and fell down the stairs, causing permanent damage to his back. As the incident happened on the ninth day of residence, the court said that Reyes and his family had ample time to discover the property's problems.

The three dissenting judges said that if real estate agents have a responsibility to tell potential owners of dangers in properties it would logically follow that they should warn renters as well. Hermes Reyes died during the course of litigation.

What does this mean for your fun summer on the Jersey Shore? You might not want to decide on a rental solely from pictures over the Internet. It might be worth the trek to inspect the property for yourself to ensure that you and your summer guests are safe.

Usually you go to a real estate agent knowing that they have to tell you of any problems or issues with a property. With this ruling, know that the agent legally can have one thing in mind when showing you properties: renting them to make money. Maybe it's time to consider a Long Island summer rental instead.

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