[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Council of the Township of Burlington 8-22-1961 (Sec. 5:2 of the 1975 General Ordinances). Amendments noted where applicable.]
It is hereby found and declared that the existence or occupation of any building or buildings or parts thereof in the Township of Burlington which are so old, dilapidated or have become so out of repair as to be dangerous, unsafe, unsanitary or otherwise unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use are inimical to the welfare and dangerous and injurious to the health and safety of the people of the Township of Burlington, and that a public necessity exists for the repair, closing or demolition of such building or buildings or parts thereof.
Whenever the proper officials of the Township of Burlington designated herein find that there exists in the Township of Burlington any building or buildings which are unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use due to dilapidation, defects increasing the hazards of fire, accidents or other calamities, lack of ventilation, light or sanitation facilities, or due to other conditions rendering such building or buildings or part thereof unsafe or unsanitary or dangerous or detrimental to the health or safety or otherwise inimical to the welfare of the residents of the Township of Burlington, the officials designated shall exercise the power vested under this chapter and under its police powers to repair, close or demolish or cause or require the repairing, closing or demolition of such building or buildings, or part thereof, before rented or occupied if possible, in the manner provided.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- Any building or structure or part thereof, whether used for human habitation or otherwise, and includes any outhouse and appurtenances belonging thereto or usually enjoyed therewith.
- GOVERNING BODY
- The Township Council of the Township of Burlington.
- The holder or holders of the title in fee simple.
- PARTIES IN INTEREST
- All individuals, associations and corporations who have interests of record in a building and any who are in actual possession thereof.
- PUBLIC OFFICER
- The officer, officers, board or body who is or are authorized under this chapter to exercise the powers set forth in this chapter.
Enforcement officials designated. The Building Inspector, the Plumbing Inspector and Health Inspector are hereby designated and appointed as the public body authorized to enforce the powers set forth in this chapter.
Enforcement standards. The public body may determine that a building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use if it finds that conditions exist in such buildings which are dangerous or injurious to the health or safety of the occupants of such building, the occupants of neighboring buildings or other residents of such municipality; such conditions may include the following: defects therein increasing the hazards of fire, accident or other calamities; lack of adequate ventilation, light or sanitary facilities; dilapidation; disrepair, structural defects; uncleanliness; failure to have included in such building running water or inside toilet facilities, and insufficient provision as to heating said premises.
Additional powers. The public body or other official designated under this chapter may exercise such powers as may be necessary or convenient to carry out and effectuate the purpose and provisions of this chapter, including but not limited to the following powers, in addition to the others herein granted:
To investigate the building conditions in the municipality in order to determine which buildings therein are unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use.
To administer oaths, affirmations, examine witnesses and receive evidence.
To enter upon premises for the purpose of making examinations, provided that such entries shall be made in such manner as to cause the least possible inconvenience to the persons in possession.
To appoint and fix the duties of such officers, agents and employees as the public body deems necessary to carry out the purposes of the chapter.
To delegate any of its functions and powers under the chapter to such officers and agents as it may designate.
Preliminary investigation; complaint; hearing. Whenever a petition is filed with said public body by the Health Inspector or any other officer in charge of any department or municipality relating to health, fire, building regulations or activities concerning buildings in the Township of Burlington or by at least five residents of the Township of Burlington, charging that any building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, or whenever it appears to the public body that any building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, the public body shall, if its preliminary investigation discloses a basis for such charges, issue and cause to be served upon the owner of and parties in interest in such building a complaint stating the charges in that respect and containing a notice that a hearing will be held before the public body or its designated agent at a place therein fixed not less than seven days nor more than 30 days after the serving of said complaint; that the owner and parties in interest shall be given the right to file an answer to the complaint and to appear in person or otherwise and give testimony at the place and time fixed in the complaint; and that the rules of evidence prevailing in the courts shall not be controlling in hearings before the public body.
Process. A complaint or order issued by a public body pursuant to this chapter shall be served upon persons either personally or by registered mail, but if the whereabouts of such persons is unknown and the same cannot be ascertained by the public body in the exercise of reasonable diligence, and the public body shall make an affidavit to that effect, then the serving of such complaint or order upon such persons may be made by publishing the same once in a newspaper printed and published in the municipality. A copy of such complaint or order shall be posted in a conspicuous place on premises affected by the complaint or order. A copy of such complaint or order shall be duly recorded or lodged for record with the Clerk of the Township of Burlington.
Subsequent order. After notice and hearing, if said public body determines that the building under consideration is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, it shall state in writing its findings of fact in support of such determination and shall issue and cause to be served upon the owner thereof and parties in interest an order:
Requiring the repair, alteration or improvement of the said building to be made by the owner within a reasonable time, which time shall be set forth in the order, or, at the option of the owner, to vacate or have the said building vacated and closed within the time set forth in the order; and
If the building is in such a condition as to make it dangerous to the health and safety of persons on or near the premises, and the owner fails to repair, alter or improve the said building within the time specified in the order, then the owner shall be required to remove or demolish the said building within a reasonable time, as specified in the said order of removal.
If the owner shall fail to comply with the order to repair, alter or improve or, at the option of the owner, to vacate and close the building, the public body may cause such building to be repaired, altered or improved or to be vacated and closed; the public body may cause to be posted on the main entrance of any building so closed, a placard with the following words: "This building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use; the use or occupation of this building is prohibited and unlawful."
If the owner fails to comply with an order to remove or demolish the building, the public body may cause such building to be removed or demolished.
Repairs, alterations or improvements, or vacating or closing, or removal or demolition shall be a municipal lien against the real property upon which such cost was incurred. The detailed statement of the aforesaid costs shall be filed with the Municipal Tax Assessor or other custodian of the records of tax liens, and that a copy of the said detailed statement be forthwith forwarded to the owner by registered mail. If the building is removed or demolished by the public body, it shall sell the materials of such building and shall credit the proceeds of such sale against the cost of the removal or demolition, and any balance remaining shall be deposited in the Superior Court, subject to the order of said Court. Any owner or party in interest may, within 30 days from the date of the filing of the lien certificate, proceed in a summary manner in the Superior Court to contest the reasonableness of the amount or the accuracy of the costs set forth in the municipal lien certificate.
If an actual and immediate danger to life is posed by the threatened collapse of any fire-damaged or other structurally unsafe building, the public officer may, after taking such measures as may be necessary to make such building temporarily safe, seek a judgment in summary proceedings for the demolition thereof.
Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to impair or limit in any way the power of the Township to define and declare nuisances and to cause their removal or abatement by summary proceedings or otherwise, nor is anything in this chapter intended to limit the authority of the Township under the State Uniform Construction Code Act, P.L. 1975, c. 217 (N.J.S.A. 52:27D-119 et seq.) or any rules or regulations adopted thereunder.