[HISTORY: Adopted by the Municipal Council of the City of Clifton 3-21-2006 by Ord. No. 6566-06. Amendments noted where applicable.]
For purposes of this chapter, the following definitions shall apply:
- The space between the ceiling beams of the top story and the roof rafters.
- A story partly underground and having more than one-half of its average clear height below the finished grade.
- DWELLING UNIT
- Any room or group of rooms located within a building forming a single habitable unit with facilities which are used, designed or arranged to be used for sleeping and cooking and/or sanitary purposes.
- ILLEGAL CONVERSION
- A change in the use of any room, group of rooms, space or spaces, whether or not any construction takes place, to create dwelling units without approval of the requisite agencies or boards of the City of Clifton and for which no dwelling certificate exists.
- Using any room, group of rooms, space or spaces for a specific purpose, including but not limited to sleeping. There shall be a rebuttable presumption that any room or space which contains an assembled bed, daybed, futon, sofa bed or other convertible furniture is being utilized for sleeping purposes.
- PERMITTING OCCUPANCY
- Allowing a person or persons to utilize a room, group of rooms, space or spaces, for a specific purpose, including but not limited to sleeping. Any owner or operator of any premises shall be responsible for the utilization of any room, rooms, space or spaces within any premises under his or her ownership or control.
It shall be unlawful for an owner or landlord of a building to cause or permit occupancy of a basement, attic, garage, room or any space as a dwelling unit created by means of an illegal conversion.
It shall be unlawful for a tenant or any other person to occupy a basement, attic, garage, room or any space as a dwelling unit created by means of an illegal conversion.
Any person, partnership, firm or corporation who or which violates § 283-2, Subsection A or B shall be punished by one or more of the following:
A fine of up to $2,000. Where a fine in an amount greater than $1,250 is sought to be imposed upon an owner for any violation of this section, a thirty-day period shall be provided in which the owner shall be afforded the opportunity to cure or abate the condition and shall also be afforded an opportunity for a hearing before the Municipal Court for an independent determination concerning the violation. Subsequent to the expiration of the thirty-day period, a fine greater than $1,250 may be imposed if the court has not determined otherwise, or, upon reinspection of the property, it is determined that the abatement has not been substantially completed.
Confinement in the municipal jail or in the county jail for a period not exceeding 90 days.
A period of community service not exceeding 90 days.
The minimum penalty or fine for the violation of any of the provisions of this chapter shall be $100.
Each violation of any of the provisions of this chapter and each day the same is violated shall be deemed and taken to be a separate and distinct offense.
In addition to the foregoing fines or penalties, any person, partnership, firm or corporation violating any of the provisions of this chapter within one year of the date of a previous violation of the provisions of this chapter shall be subject to be sentenced to an additional fine as a repeat offender. The additional fine shall not be less than the minimum nor exceed the maximum fine as set forth above and shall be calculated separate from the fine imposed for a violation of the provisions of this chapter.
The imposition of a penalty for a violation of this chapter shall not excuse the violation and shall not prevent the enforced removal of the prohibited conditions, and each day the prohibited conditions continue shall constitute a separate offense.
In addition to the above fines and penalties, any person, partnership, firm, corporation, owner or landlord who is convicted of a violation of § 283-2A of this chapter shall be required to pay an additional penalty of up to six times the monthly rental paid by the displaced tenant of the illegal occupancy.
In addition to the above fines and penalties, any person, partnership, firm, corporation, owner or landlord who is convicted of a second or subsequent violation of § 283-2A of this chapter, where the illegal tenancy is determined to have resulted in a resident attending the City of Clifton public school system, may be assessed a penalty equal to the annual tuition cost for the student, prorated to the time of the student's ineligible attendance in the public school of the City of Clifton. The fine shall be recovered in a civil action by a summary proceeding in the name of the municipality pursuant to "The Penalty Enforcement Law of 1999," P.L. 1999, c. 274 (N.J.S.A. 2A:58-10 et seq.). The Municipal Court and/or the Superior Court shall have jurisdiction of proceedings for the enforcement of the penalty provided by this subsection. The tuition cost shall be determined in the manner prescribed for nonresident pupils pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:38-19. The tuition shall be computed on the basis of 1/180 of the total annual per pupil cost to the City of Clifton multiplied by the number of days of ineligible attendance based upon the illegal occupancy. The payment of the fine shall be remitted to the Clifton Board of Education. For the purposes of this section, the owner-landlord of a structure shall exclude mortgagees in possession of a structure through foreclosure. For the purposes of this section, a "second or subsequent violation for an illegal occupancy" shall be limited to those violations that are new and are a result of distinct and separate zoning or code enforcement activities, and shall not include any continuing violations for which citations are issued by a zoning or code enforcement agent during the time period required for summary dispossession proceedings to conclude if the owner has initiated eviction proceedings in a court of proper jurisdiction.
Any person convicted of a violation of this chapter, may, in the discretion of the court by which he or she was convicted, and in default of the payment of any fine imposed therefor, be imprisoned in the county jail or place of detention provided by the municipality, for any term not exceeding 90 days, or be required to perform community service for a period not exceeding 90 days.