[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Hasbrouck Heights 8-9-2016 by Ord. No. 2362. Amendments noted where applicable.]
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- ABANDONED PROPERTY
- Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 55:19-81 is defined as follows. Any property that has not been legally occupied for a period of six months and which meets any one of the following additional criteria may be deemed to be abandoned property upon a determination by the public officer that:
- A. The property is in need of rehabilitation in the reasonable judgment of the public officer, and no rehabilitation has taken place during that six-month period;
- B. Construction was initiated on the property and was discontinued prior to completion, leaving the building unsuitable for occupancy, and no construction has taken place for at least six months as of the date of a determination by the public officer pursuant to this definition;
- C. At least one installment of property tax remains unpaid and delinquent on that property as of the date of the determination by the public officer pursuant to this definition; or
- D. The property has been determined to be a nuisance by the Property Maintenance Official of the Borough of Hasbrouck Heights in accordance with any provision of the Code of the Borough of Hasbrouck Heights. A property which contains both residential and nonresidential space may be considered abandoned so long as two-thirds or more of the total net square footage of the building formerly approved for use and occupation has not been legally occupied for at least six months at the time of the determination of abandonment by the Property Maintenance Official and the property meets the criteria of either Subsection A or Subsection D of this definition.
- Includes the title holder, any agent of the title holder having authority to act with respect to a vacant/abandoned property, or any foreclosing entity.
- VACANT PROPERTY
- Any building used or to be used as a residence, commercial or industrial structure which is not legally occupied or at which substantially all lawful construction operations or occupancy has ceased, and which is in such condition that it cannot legally be reoccupied without repair or rehabilitation, including but not limited to any property meeting the definition of "abandoned property" in N.J.S.A. 55:19-54, 55:19-78, 55:19-79, 55:19-80 and 55:19-81; provided, however, that any property that is being actively marketed by its owner for sale or rental: 1) where all building systems are in working order; 2) where the building and grounds are maintained in good order in accordance with Chapter 206 entitled "Property Maintenance" of this Code; and 3) where the building is in habitable condition, shall not be deemed a vacant property for purposes of this chapter.
The owner as defined herein of any vacant property shall, within 30 calendar days after the building becomes vacant property or within 30 calendar days after assuming ownership of the vacant property, whichever is later, or within 10 calendar days of receipt of notice by the Property Maintenance Official, file a registration statement for such vacant property with the Property Maintenance Official on forms provided by the Borough for such purposes. Failure to receive notice by the municipality shall not constitute grounds for failing to register the property.
The registration statement shall include the name, street address, telephone number, and email address (if applicable) of a person 21 years or older, designated by the owner or owners as the authorized agent for receiving notices of code violations and for receiving process in any court proceeding or administrative enforcement proceedings on behalf of such owner or owners in connection with the enforcement of any applicable code; and the name, street address, telephone number, and email (if applicable) of the firm and the actual name(s) of the firm's individual principal(s) responsible for maintaining the property. Both entities shown on the statement must maintain offices in the State of New Jersey or reside within the State of New Jersey.
The registration shall remain valid for one year from the date of registration except for the initial registration which expires on the following December 31. The owner shall be required to renew the registration annually as long as the building remains a vacant and/or abandoned property and shall pay a registration or renewal fee in the amount hereafter prescribed for each vacant property registered.
The annual renewal shall be filed by January 1 of each year.
The owner shall notify the Property Maintenance Official within 30 calendar days of any change in the registration information by filing an amended registration statement on a form provided by the Property Maintenance Inspector for such purpose. The registration statement shall be deemed prima facie proof of the statements therein contained in any administrative enforcement proceeding or court proceeding instituted by the Borough against the owner or owners of the building.
The owner of any vacant property registered under this chapter shall provide access to the Borough to conduct exterior and interior inspections of the building to determine compliance with municipal codes upon reasonable notice to the property owner or the designated agent. Such inspections shall be carried out on weekdays during the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., or such other time as may be mutually agreed upon between the owner and the Property Maintenance Official.
An owner who meets the requirements of this chapter with respect to the location of his or her residence or workplace in the State of New Jersey may designate himself or herself as agent or as the individual responsible for maintaining the property.
By designating an authorized agent under the provisions of this chapter, the owner consents to receive any and all notices of code violations concerning the registered vacant property and all process in any court proceeding or administrative enforcement proceeding brought to enforce code provisions concerning the registered building by service of the notice or process on the authorized agent. Any owner who has designated an authorized agent under the provisions of this section shall be deemed to consent to the continuation of the agent's designation for the purposes of this section until the owner notifies the Borough in writing of a change of authorized agent or until the owner files a new annual registration statement.
Any owner who fails to register vacant/abandoned property under the provisions of this chapter shall further be deemed to consent to receive, by posting on the building, in plain view, and by service of notice at the last known address of the owner of the property on record within the Borough by regular and certified mail, any and all notices of code violations and all process in an administrative proceeding brought to enforce code provisions concerning the building.
The owner as defined herein of any building that has become vacant and/or abandoned property, and any person maintaining or operating or collecting rent for any such building that has become vacant shall, within 30 days thereof:
Enclose and secure the building against unauthorized entry;
Affix a sign 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 placed 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 eight inches by ten 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;
Ensure that the premises are maintained in accordance with Chapter 206 entitled "Property Maintenance" of this Code; and
Continue to maintain the structure in a secure and closed condition, keep the grounds in a clean and well-maintained condition, and ensure that the sign is visible and intact until the building is again occupied, demolished, or until repair and/or rehabilitation of the building is complete.
Any person who violates any provision of this chapter or the rules and regulations issued hereunder shall be subject to penalty as provided in Chapter 204 entitled "Penalties" of this Code. Every day that a violation 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.
For purposes of this section, failure to file a registration statement within 30 calendar days after a building becomes vacant property or within 30 calendar days after assuming ownership of a vacant property, whichever is later, or within 10 calendar days of receipt of notice by the municipality, and failure to provide correct information on the registration statement, or failure to comply with the provisions of such provisions contained herein shall be deemed to be violations of this chapter.
Determination of violation. In the event that the Property Maintenance Code Enforcement Officer of this Borough determines that there exists upon any property subject to the terms of this chapter any violation of the requirements of this chapter which has not been abated after reasonable notice has been given to the owner of that property demanding abatement thereof as above provided, in addition to any other lawful remedy, the Property Maintenance Code Enforcement Officer may certify to the governing body that such a violation exists and seek that the Borough cause the abatement of such violations and charge the cost of the same to the property.
Resolution of the governing body. Based upon such certification of the Property Maintenance Code Enforcement Officer, the governing body, if it finds that the violation is detrimental to the public health and general welfare, may adopt a resolution: a) authorizing the abatement of the violations by or on behalf of the Borough; b) charging the costs reasonably incurred in such abatement as a municipal lien on that property pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.14 and 40:48-2.27; and c) authorizing the Collector of Taxes to charge all of those costs in addition to the real property taxes assessed upon the said property and to collect the same, together with interest and penalties at the same rates, in the normal course of tax collection.
Where it does not conflict with Title 59 of the New Jersey Statutes, any Borough official, officer or employee or any agent of the Borough who acts in good faith and without malice in the discharge of his duties of enforcement of this chapter is relieved of all personal liability for any damage that may accrue to persons or property as a result of such acts or alleged failure to act. Further, he shall not be held liable for any costs in any action, suit or proceeding that may be instituted by him in the enforcement of this chapter.