No Knock Ordinance Faces Challenges

Photo by Jennifer Peacock

JACKSON – Township officials discussed how to make residents – and real estate companies – aware of the no-knock ordinance.

Forms for the township’s no-knock registry will be included in the tax bills, officials said.

Clerk Ann Marie Eden approached council about again mailing the forms with the tax bills, just as council had approved to do last year. The cost to the town is $700, which council agreed was a modest amount for making more residents aware of the registry. To date, 2,332 homes are on the registry.

“It’s quieting down a little bit on the applications because people have been doing them online,” Eden said. “In April we’ve only issued 12, in March we issued 16.”

Councilman Barry Calogero wanted them mailed, as some residents do not have access to the internet.

“Anything we can do to make it easier for them, we should do,” he said. “Seven hundred dollars is a reasonable cost.”

Councilman Rob Nixon wants to look into ways to deter violators of the ordinance.

“Lately I’ve become aware of at least three violations to the no-knock ordinance of people who are on the no-knock list. Apparently the [real estate agents] are not getting the message,” Nixon said. “Whatever we can do to get the word out to our residents, that this is an option for them, and try to convince the [real estate companies] that we have law they have to follow, I think we should get the word out.”

Courtesy Jackson Township

Nixon said he wants to work with legal counsel to “find more ways to send a message to [real estate agents] that we’re not joking about this, and that it is unacceptable to get on the no-knock list, be given the no-knock list, and the proceed to walk up somebody’s driveway and ask them if they want to sell their house.

“I don’t know how much more clear we can be about that,” Nixon said.

Councilman Scott Martin will work with Nixon and municipal attorney Jean Cipriani on ways to strengthen penalties for defying the law.

Residents can add their addresses to the township’s no-knock registry through mail, in person or online. The township then gives the homeowner a decal to place conspicuously on their property, usually on the home’s front door. Once that home is on the list, it stays on until that resident, or new owner of that property, removes the address. The list is updated monthly. Being on the list prevents commercial solicitors—political and religious canvassers are exempt—from canvassing that home, even if the homeowner is in their driveway or on their front lawn.

The registry cannot prevent solicitors from calling, texting, or sending mail to residents.

Solicitors must register with the township clerk’s office monthly, providing a list of streets where they will canvass. They are provided the no-knock registry, and can only canvass homes not on that registry. They are permitted to canvas 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 2 p.m. Sunday.

Anyone on the list who is approached by a solicitor is asked to contact the Jackson Police Department to report the violation. Violators are subject to permit revocation and fines up to $1,250 for the first offense, and possible jail time.