[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Westville 10-11-2000 (Ch. 63 of the 1974 Code). Amendments noted where applicable.]
Dangerous buildings — See Ch. 117.
Numbering of buildings — See Ch. 123.
Commercial property — See Ch. 137.
Fire prevention — See Ch. 175.
Property maintenance — See Ch. 258.
Abandoned vehicles and articles — See Ch. 368.
Public health nuisances — See Ch. 400.
This chapter shall be known as the "Housing Standards Code of the Borough of Westville."
The purpose of this chapter is to promote safe and decent housing for the benefit of all residents of the Borough of Westville and to prevent and abate harmful housing conditions. Among other things, this chapter shall provide for registration of rental units by landlords (except for owner-occupied two-unit dwellings). By providing for registration and disclosure of landlords and their addresses, the Borough of Westville continues its policy of making absentee landlords more responsible and responsive to the welfare of tenants, as well as neighbors who live in Westville. In addition, this chapter will reduce the time frame for processing housing complaints and avoid undue delay in correcting conditions.
The following are hereby accepted, adopted and established as a standard to be used as a guide in determining whether dwellings and buildings in this Borough are safe, sanitary and fit for human habitation and/or rental:
The New Jersey State Housing Code (N.J.A.C. 5:28-1.1 et seq.).
Regulations for Maintenance of Hotels and Multiple Dwellings (N.J.A.C. 5:10-1 et seq.).
The Uniform Construction Code (N.J.S.A. 52:27D-119 et seq. and N.J.A.C. 5:23-1 et seq.).
The Uniform Fire Code (N.J.A.C. 5:70-2 et seq.).
The Uniform Fire Safety Act (N.J.S.A. 52:27D-192 et seq.).
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- That portion of a building which is partly above grade and has at least 1/2 its ceiling height above grade. Any sleeping room in a basement shall comply with the emergency escape section of the aforesaid State Housing Code.
- The Borough of Westville.
- That portion of a building which is partly or completely below grade and has more than 1/2 its ceiling height below grade.
- DWELLING UNIT
- A room or group of rooms or any part thereof located within a building forming a single habitable unit with facilities which are used or designed to be used for living, sleeping, cooking and eating.
- HABITABLE ROOM
- A room or enclosed floor space within a dwelling unit used or designed to be used for living, sleeping, cooking or eating purposes, excluding bathrooms, water closet compartments, laundries, pantries, foyers or communicating corridors, closets and storage spaces.
- Any use, possession or control of real property by persons, entities or personal property.
- Any individual who lives or sleeps in, or has actual possession of, a dwelling unit.
- Any person or entity who owns, purports to own or exercises control over any real property.
- Lands and/or buildings thereon.
- REGISTERED AGENT
- An individual who shall be responsible for receiving notice of violation of this chapter, who exercises control of a rental facility, building and/or structures, and/or fulfilling the responsibility of the owner of a rental facility to correct such violation. The registered agent may be the owner. The registered agent must reside in the County of Gloucester. The name, address and telephone number of such registered agent must be filed with the Borough of Westville as provided in this chapter.
- RENTAL FACILITY
- Every building, group of buildings or a portion thereof consisting of a dwelling, apartment and/or one or more rooms, inclusive of a mixed occupancy building.
Duties of owner, operator and/or registered agent. The duties and responsibilities of owner, operator and/or registered agent shall be as follows:
Maintenance of exterior of premises free of hazards and unsanitary conditions. The exterior of the premises and all structures thereon shall be kept free of all nuisances and any hazards to the safety of occupants, pedestrians, and other persons utilizing the premises, and free of unsanitary condition, and any of the foregoing shall be promptly removed and abated by the owner, operator and/or registered agent. It shall be the absolute duty of the owner, operator and/or registered agent, individually or jointly, to keep the premises free of hazards, which include but are not limited to the following:
Refuse. brush, weeds, broken glass, stumps, roots, obnoxious growths, filth, garbage, trash, refuse and debris.
Natural growth. dead and dying trees, stumps and limbs or other natural growth which, by reason of rotting or deteriorating conditions or storm damage, constitute a hazard to persons or property in the vicinity thereof. Trees shall be kept pruned and trimmed to prevent such conditions.
Overhanging objects. loose and overhanging objects and accumulation of ice and snow which, by reason of location above ground level, constitutes a danger of falling on persons or property in the vicinity thereof.
Ground surface hazards or unsanitary conditions. holes, excavations, breaks, projections, obstructions, icy conditions, uncleared snow and excretion of pets and other animals on paths, walks, sidewalks, curbs, driveways, parking lots and parking areas and other parts of the premises which are accessible to and used by persons on the premises. All such holes and excavations shall be filled and repaired.
Brush and hedges near roadways. Any and all brush, hedges and similar plant life growing within 10 feet of any roadway and/or within 25 feet of the intersection of two roadways shall be cut to a height of not more than 2 1/2 feet.
Waste and recycling materials. The occupant of any rental unit shall be responsible for compliance with all waste and recycling regulations of the Borough of Westville. The owner, operator or registered agent shall require by the lease terms that the tenant/occupant comply with such regulations. Failure to do so will be deemed a violation of this chapter by the owner, operator or registered agent. Evidence of written notice to the occupant of his/her obligation to recycle shall be an absolute defense to such violation.
Appearance of exterior of premises and residential structures. The exterior of the premises, the exterior of dwelling structures and the conditions of accessory structures shall be maintained so that the appearance of the premises and all buildings thereon shall reflect a level of maintenance in keeping with the residential standards of the neighborhood or such higher standards as may be adopted as part of a plan of urban renewal by the Borough of Westville and such that the appearance of the premises and the structures shall not constitute a negative impact for adjoining property owners nor an element leading to the progressive deterioration and downgrading of the neighborhood with the accompanying diminution of property values, including the following:
Storage of commercial and industrial material. There shall not be stored or used at a location visible from the sidewalk, street or other public areas equipment and materials relating to commercial or industrial uses unless permitted under Chapter 205, Land Use and Development, for the premises.
Landscaping. Premises shall be kept landscaped, and lawns, hedges and bushes shall be kept trimmed and from becoming overgrown and unsightly where exposed to public view and where the same constitute a negative impact depreciating adjoining property and impairing the good residential character of the neighborhood. No automobiles shall be parked upon lawns or placed for sale on front lawns.
Signs. All signs permitted by reason of other regulations or as lawful nonconforming uses shall be maintained in good repair, and printed matter, pictures or illustrations contained thereon shall be completely maintained or, when no longer in use, completely removed.
Conveyance of property. The owner, operator and/or registered agent of any property under order by the public officer to repair or demolish said property shall not convey such property to a new owner without first notifying the public officer. The new owner shall comply with the order of the public officer as served upon the seller of said property and shall not occupy said building or premises until the order of the public officer is obeyed and a certificate of occupancy is issued by the public officer.
Obstructions. The front, side and back yards, the driveway, walks or other parts of the outside premises of any building or any lot on which no building is located shall not contain any boxes, barrels, sticks, stones, bricks, bottles, cans, metal drums, iron pipe, old sheet metal, old furniture, used or unused motor vehicles or boats, auto parts, old tires, unused bicycles or parts, filth, junk, rubbish, trash, debris, dead and dying trees, stumps, roots, obnoxious growths, old lumber or firewood, unless such lumber or firewood is neatly stacked and not more than five feet in height or piled on supports at least eight inches above the ground and stored not less than one foot from the property line; nor shall the grass or weeds on such premises be allowed to attain a growth of more than 10 inches. Shrubs and flowering woody plants shall be kept under control and shall not be allowed to grow beyond the boundaries of the premises on which a building is located. Various and sundry shacks and outhouses, including toolhouses, storage sheds and garages, shall be repaired or improved so that they shall be aesthetically and structurally acceptable or shall be demolished and removed. Every fence which wholly or partially encloses a premises on which a building is located must be maintained in a manner that is aesthetically and structurally acceptable and shall not have broken posts, broken supporting members nor holes or voids in such fence.
The Housing Code Official or the Borough Council's official is hereby designated as the officer(s) and body to exercise the powers prescribed by this chapter.
All building or structures used, occupied or offered for occupancy as a rental facility on a lease or rental basis shall be registered in writing on a form provided by the Borough of Westville, which form shall be signed by the owner, operator and/or the registered agent and filed with the Borough Clerk or his/her designees. Said registration shall state, among other things, the name, address and telephone number of the registered agent (which may be the same as the owner), the location of the building, the portion of the building to be used as a rental facility, the number of dwelling units, the proposed number of occupants, and their names, in each dwelling unit, the number of rooms in each dwelling unit, the proposed use of each such room and the dimensions of each such room. Such registration shall be accompanied by a floor plan, drawn approximately to scale, indicating the location, use and dimension of each room covered by the registration. Any changes in information required to be included in the registration, including but not limited to a change in the occupants or their number or a change in the identity of the owner, operator and/or registered agent, will require an amended registration, notwithstanding the provisions of this chapter.
Notwithstanding any of the other provisions of this section and chapter, owner-occupied two-unit rental facilities are not required to file the landlord registration otherwise required by this chapter.
The owner, operator and/or registered agent of the subject rental facility shall be responsible to file an amended registration statement with the Borough within seven days of any change or changes in any of the information required by the registration statement.
All buildings or structures used, occupied or proposed to be occupied as dwelling units and/or rental facilities shall be inspected by the housing officer before every initial occupancy, change in occupancy and/or change in the number of occupants.
No owner, agent, broker or person shall purchase, sell, rent, lease or use in such a manner as to result, permit or allow any person(s) to occupy, or to live in, as an owner, occupant, tenant or otherwise, any dwelling unit or apartment or structure unless a certificate of occupancy certifying that the structure or apartment or dwelling unit is fit for human habitation and that the structure or apartment or dwelling unit is in compliance with this chapter and all applicable laws, ordinances, codes, regulations and standards shall first have been obtained from the housing officer or his or her representative.
The owner, operator and/or registered agent of the subject property shall be responsible to complete an application for a certificate of occupancy before any initial occupancy, proposed change in occupancy and/or addition to the number of occupants. The housing officer or his/her representative, within 10 working days of the receipt of said application, shall make an inspection of the applicable dwelling unit or units. The owner, operator and/or registered agent must accompany the housing officer, or his or her representative, for inspection. Upon determining that this chapter and all applicable laws, ordinances, codes, regulations and standards which the Borough is empowered to enforce have been complied with, the housing officer shall issue a certificate of occupancy permitting occupancy of the inspected dwelling unit and indicating that compliance has been met. Where the change in occupancy relates to the addition or deletion of the names of occupants or the number of occupants, and where there is sufficient square footage to permit an additional occupant, no inspection is required unless one is otherwise required by this chapter and/or the codes, regulations and standards adopted hereunder.
If, upon inspection by the housing officer or his or her representative, the structure or dwelling unit is found not to be in compliance, the owner shall thereupon be notified in writing within 72 hours after the inspection, specifically noting those violations requiring correction before any new occupancy and/or change in occupancy may commence and that correction of the violations may require construction permits, to be issued upon proper application to the Housing Code Official.
A period designated by the Housing Code Official for correction of violations may be extended by the Housing Code Official for a definite number of days for good cause. Good cause for such extension shall include but is not limited to delays in the correction of the violation caused by weather conditions, unavailability of building/construction materials and/or unavailability of contractors to correct the violations or other extenuating conditions.
The owner, operator and/or registered agent may file a written request challenging any part of the notice requiring correction of the code violation(s). This written challenge must be filed within 10 days of service of the notice of code violation with the Housing Code Official who shall affirm, modify or dismiss the notice of code violation, in writing, within 10 days of receiving such written challenge.
Upon correction of the violations, the owner or registered agent shall notify the housing officer of the corrections, and within seven days a reinspection will be made of the required corrections.
A certificate of occupancy issued as provided herein shall be valid for a period of 60 days from its issuance.
The owner, operator and/or registered agent shall be charged a fee of $50 per unit for the initial inspection. If additional reinspection is required, an additional fee of $25 per unit must be paid.
Violations and penalties.
The penalty for a violation of this chapter for failure to obtain a certificate of occupancy as provided herein or for the failure to register as required herein shall be:
For a first offender: a fine of not less than $100 nor more than $250, and/or community service to be set at the discretion of the Municipal Judge.
With respect to the violations and penalties set forth above, a person shall be guilty of a separate offense for each day that the person fails to comply with an order to correct and abate a code violation, fails to obtain a valid certificate of occupancy or fails to register as required herein.
No person shall occupy or rent to another for occupancy any dwelling unit for the purpose of living therein which does not conform to the provisions of this chapter and the codes and their amendments or additions subsequent thereto, which are established hereby as the standards to be used in determining whether a dwelling is safe, sanitary and fit for human habitation. No cellar or any part thereof shall be used for sleeping purposes. Basements may be used for sleeping purposes, provided that the entire basement complies with all requirements of this chapter and the emergency escape provisions of the aforesaid State Building Code that all furnaces or other heating or hot water facilities are so located, insulated and separated from living areas by resistive partitions of two-hour fire rating, that fire extinguishers are provided at an accessible location and proximity thereto for use in the case of fire and that the floors, ceilings and walls are impervious to leakage of underground and surface runoff water and are insulated from and free from dampness and moisture. Smoke detectors must comply with Uniform Fire Safety Act and/or the aforesaid Regulations for Maintenance of Hotels and Multiple Dwellings.
Each structure to which a street number has been assigned shall have such number displayed in a position easily observed and readable from the public right-of-way. All numbers shall be in Arabic numerals at least three inches (76 mm) high and one-half-inch stroke.
Free access. The inspection officers designated as the housing officer(s) are hereby authorized to make inspections to determine the condition of buildings and structures in order that they may perform their duty of safeguarding the health, safety and welfare of the occupants thereof and of the general public. For the purpose of making such inspections, the inspecting officers are hereby authorized to enter, examine and survey buildings and structures at all reasonable times. The owner, operator, registered agent or occupant of every building or structure shall give the inspecting officer free access to the building or structure at all reasonable times for the purpose of making such repairs or alterations as are necessary to effect compliance with the provisions of this chapter or any lawful order issued pursuant hereto.
Complaints. Within 72 hours of the receipt of a complaint alleging a reported violation of this chapter, an inspecting officer shall conduct an inspection as hereinbefore provided.
Notice. Whenever an inspecting officer determines that there has been a violation of this chapter, he/she shall serve a written notice of the violation on the owner, operator and/or registered agent, which shall include a statement of the reasons why it is being issued and what action, if any, the owner, operator and/or registered agent must take to abate the violation. Said notice shall also state that the violation(s) must be corrected within 10 days and, if not, that the certificate of occupancy for the subject premises shall be revoked, in addition to the remedies and provisions set forth elsewhere in this chapter. Said period for correction may be extended or abbreviated by the housing officer for a definite number of days for good cause. Good cause for such extension shall include but is not limited to delays in the correction of the violations caused by weather conditions, unavailability of building/construction materials, and/or unavailability of contractors hired to correct the violations or the existence of emergent circumstances affecting the health or safety of occupants or residents of Westville.
Revocation; appeal; hearing.
If a violation is not corrected within 10 days of the service of a notice thereof, or any extension or abbreviation given, the inspecting officer may serve an order upon the owner, operator and/or registered agent that the certificate is revoked and occupancy prohibited, effective five days from the service thereof.
Notwithstanding the correction of any one or more violation, the Housing Code Official or designated housing officers may conduct a hearing in the manner provided above to consider suspension or revocation of a certificate of occupancy on the grounds herein stated. If, as result of such hearing, the Housing Code Official or designated housing officers determine that the subject building or structure has been a source of serious or repeated violations of this chapter such that the operation of said premises is or has been harmful to the health and/or safety of the occupants or has constituted a public nuisance, the Housing Code Official or designated housing officers may suspend such certificate of occupancy for such period as he or she shall determine or may revoke such certificate.
The Borough of Westville may, by resolution of the Mayor and Council, direct the abatement of a nuisance to correct a defect or put the premises in such proper condition so as to comply with the requirements of this chapter, and the costs thereof, upon the certification to it by the public officer of the amount of the costs, shall be charged as a lien against the subject lands and premises and shall be added to and form a part of the taxes next to be assessed and levied upon such lands and premises, to bear interest at the same rate as taxes, and shall be collected and enforced in the same manner as taxes.
The Housing Code Official and housing officer are authorized to promulgate such forms as may be necessary from time to time in order to implement and enforce the provisions of this chapter.
Whenever the Housing Code Official, and/or any public official, finds that an emergency exists with reference to a dwelling unit and/or rental facility, and the provisions of this chapter requires immediate action to protect the health of the occupants or the general public, he/she may, without notice or hearing, serve an order upon the owner or registered agent, as the case may be, reciting the existence of such emergency. Notwithstanding the other provisions of this chapter, such order shall be effective immediately. The owner or registered agent to whom the order is directed shall comply therewith immediately, unless he/she appeals to the Housing Code Official, Board of Health, or other designated Borough official as herein above provided, as soon as possible, within a period not to exceed five days. The order shall state the right to such hearing.
Notices issued by a public officer pursuant to this chapter shall be served upon the owner, operator and/or registered agent, either personally or by registered mail, but if the whereabouts of such person is unknown, then the serving of such notices shall be made by posting a copy thereof upon the subject premises in a conspicuous place.
In any case where the provisions of this chapter impose a higher standard than set forth in any other local ordinances or under the laws of the State of New Jersey, then the standards that are set forth herein shall prevail, but if the provisions of this chapter impose a lower standard than any other local ordinances or of the laws of the State of New Jersey, then the higher standard contained in any such other ordinance or code shall prevail.
Any person who shall violate any of the provisions of this chapter for which a penalty has not otherwise been established shall, upon conviction thereof, be punished as provided for in Chapter 1, Article I, § 1-15, General penalty. A person shall be guilty of a separate offense under this section for each day that the person continues to violate any provisions of this chapter for which a penalty has not otherwise been established.