[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Committee of the Township of East Amwell 10-8-2015 by Ord. No. 15-15. Amendments noted where applicable.]
This chapter authorizes the Township of East Amwell to govern the maintenance of vacant or abandoned property in the Township of East Amwell.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- Includes the title holder, any agent of the title holder having authority to act with respect to a vacant property, any foreclosing entity subject to the provision of N.J.S.A. 46:10B-51 (P.L. 2008, c. 127, § 17) or any other entity determined by the Township of East Amwell.
- VACANT PROPERTY
- Any building used or to be used for residential or commercial purposes which is not legally occupied or at which substantially all lawful construction operations or occupancy has ceased, provided, however, that any property that contains all building systems in working order, is fully compliant with the Uniform Construction Code and Chapter 163 of the Code, and is being actively marketed by its owner for sale or rental, shall not be deemed vacant. Property determined to be "abandoned property" in accordance with the meaning of such term in the Abandoned Properties Rehabilitation Act, N.J.S.A. 55:19-78 et seq., shall also be deemed to be vacant property for the purposes of this chapter.
The owner of any building that has become vacant property, and any person maintaining, operating or collecting rent for any such building that has become vacant shall, within 30 days:
Enclose and secure the building against unauthorized entry as provided in the applicable provisions of the code of the Township of East Amwell.
Post a sign affixed to the building indicating the name, address, and telephone number of the owner, the owner's authorized agent for the purpose of service of process, and the person responsible for day-to-day supervision and management of the building, if such person is different from the owner holding title or authorized agent. The sign shall be of a size and place in such a location so as to be legible from the nearest public street or sidewalk, whichever is nearer, but shall be no smaller than 8.5 inches by 11 inches.
Secure the building from unauthorized entry and maintain the sign until the building is again legally occupied or demolished or until repair or rehabilitation of the building is complete.
Post the property with "No Trespassing" signs of a nature sufficient to give notice to any person entering upon the property that is against the law to enter the property without permission of the owner.
Ensure that the vacant property is inspected on a monthly basis by the owner's authorized agent and prepare inspection reports, which shall be forwarded to the Construction Officer no later than the end of each quarter and due on March 31, June 30, September 30, and December 31 of each year.
Ensure that the vacant property is maintained in accordance with the Uniform Construction Code and that the height of any lawns within 100 feet of the building is kept to a height of 12 inches or less, the property shall be kept free of refuse in compliance with Chapter 163 of the Code, and any vandalism to the building or property will be promptly remediated.
The owner of any vacant building shall acquire and otherwise maintain liability insurance by procuring a vacancy policy in an amount of not less than $300,000 for buildings designed primarily for use as residential units and not less than $1,000,000 for any other building, including, but not limited to, buildings designed for manufacturing, industrial, storage or commercial uses, covering any damage to any person or any property caused by any physical condition of or in the building.
The Mayor and Township Committee may issue rules and regulations for the administration of the provisions of this chapter.
Pursuant to the provisions of the New Jersey Creditor Responsibility Law (P.L. 2014, c. 5), a creditor filing a summons and complaint to foreclose a lien on a residential property that is vacant and/or abandoned, whether the filing of the summons and complaint is made before or after the determination that the property is vacant and abandoned, shall be responsible for the care, maintenance, security, and upkeep of the exterior of the residential property.
If the Construction Officer or other authorized municipal official determines that a creditor obligated to care, maintain, secure and keep up a vacant and abandoned property has failed to do so in violation of the provisions of the Code, the public officer or other authorized municipal official shall issue a notice of violation to the creditor that has filed a summons and compliant to foreclose on the property in question. The notice shall require the person or entity to correct the violation within 30 days of receipt of the notice, or within 10 days of receipt of the notice if the violation presents an imminent threat to public health and safety. The issuance of this notice shall constitute evidence that a property is "vacant and abandoned" for purposes of N.J.S.A. 2A:50-73.
An out-of-state creditor shall include the full name and contact information of the in-state representative or agent in the notice required to be provided to the Municipal Clerk pursuant to N.J.S.A. 46:10B-51(a)(1). An out-of-state creditor found by a court of competent jurisdiction to have violated this provision shall be subject to a fine of $2,500 for each day of the violation commencing on the day after the ten-day period set forth in N.J.S.A. 46:10B-51(a)(1) with respect to notifying the Municipal Clerk that an action to foreclose on the property has been filed.
Any owner who is not in full compliance with this chapter or who otherwise violates any provision of this chapter or of the rules and regulations issued hereunder shall be subject to a fine of not less than $5 and not more than $2,000, or imprisonment for a period not exceeding 90 days, or a period of community service not exceeding 90 days, or any combination thereof for each offense. Each day during which any violation of this chapter continues shall constitute a separate and distinct offense. Fines assessed under this chapter shall be recoverable from the owner and shall be a lien on the property.
Failure to comply with the provisions of this chapter, or such other matters as may be established by the rules and regulations of the Mayor and Township Committee, shall be deemed to be violations of this chapter.
The court before which any person is convicted of violating this Chapter 59 shall have the power to impose a penalty, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 26:3-70 et seq. and the Penalty Enforcement Law (N.J.S.A. 2A:58-1 et seq.), of not more than $2,000 nor less than $5. A creditor required to care for, maintain, secure, and keep up a property under this chapter cited in notices issued pursuant to this chapter shall be subject to a fine of $2,000 for each day of the violation. The penalties set forth in this section are separate and apart from the remedy provided for in § 58-4 hereof and the remedy provided by the New Jersey Statutes Annotated, N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.13 and 40:48-2.14. The remedy in this section shall be in addition to all remedies available to the Township in law or in equity.
Nothing in this chapter is intended nor shall be read to conflict or prevent the Township from taking action against buildings found to be unfit for human habitation or unsafe structures as provided in applicable provisions, including Chapter 61, of the Code of the Township of East Amwell. Further, any action taken under any such code provision other than the demolition of a structure shall relieve an owner from its obligations under this chapter.
The provisions of this chapter are severable. To the extent any clause, phrase, sentence, paragraph, or provision of this chapter shall continue in full force and effect.