[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Council of the Township of Delran as Sec. 13-2 of the 1993 Revised General Ordinances. Amendments noted where applicable.]
This chapter shall be known by the short title, "The Delran Township Ordinance Concerning Dwellings Unfit for Human Habitation."
It is hereby found and declared that the existence of buildings in the Township which are unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use is inimical to the welfare and dangerous and injurious to the health and safety of the residents of the Township and a public necessity exists for the repair, closing or demolition of such buildings.
The following terms, whenever used or referred to in this chapter, shall have the following respective meanings for the purpose of this chapter, unless a different meaning clearly appears from the context:
- Any structure, or part thereof, whether used for human habitation or otherwise, and includes outhouses and appurtenance belonging thereto and usually enjoyed therewith.
- DWELLING UNIT
- A housekeeping unit designed or intended for occupancy by one family.
- PARTIES IN INTEREST
- All persons who have an interest in a dwelling or who are in possession thereof.
- PUBLIC AUTHORITY
- Any housing authority, or any officer who is in charge of any department or branch of the Township relating to health, fire, building regulations or other activities concerning building in the Township of Delran.
- PUBLIC OFFICER
- The Construction Official, who is the officer who is authorized by this chapter to exercise the powers prescribed.
[Amended 8-7-2005 by Ord. No. 2005-25; 7-27-2010 by Ord. No. 2010-10]
Whenever a petition is filed with the public officer by a public authority, or by at least five residents of the Township, charging that any building is unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use, or whenever it appears to the public officer that any building is unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use, the public officer shall, if his or her 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 and that a hearing will be held before the public officer at a place therein fixed, not less than seven days nor more than 30 days after the serving of such complaint; that the owner and parties in interest shall be given the right to file an answer to the complaint with the public officer and to appear in person or otherwise and give testimony at the place and time fixed in the complaint, and the rules of evidence prevailing in the courts shall not be controlling in the hearing before the public officer.
If the public officer shall determine, after notice and hearing, that the building under consideration is unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use, he or she shall state, in writing, his or her 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 and improvement of the building to be made by the owner within a reasonable time, which time shall be set forth in the order, or to vacate or have the building vacated and closed within the time set forth in the order; and
If the building is in such a condition 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 building within the time specified in the order, then the owner shall be required to remove or demolish the building within the time specified in the order of removal.
If the owner fails to comply with an order to repair, alter or improve, or, at the option of the owner, to vacate and close the building, the public officer may cause such building to be repaired, altered or improved, or to be vacated and closed, provided that the public officer shall not incur any expenses to repair, alter or improve any building without the approval, by resolution, of the Township Council. The public officer 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, occupancy or use; the use or occupancy of this building is prohibited and unlawful."
If the owner fails to comply with an order to remove or demolish the building, the public officer, upon approval of the Township Council, shall cause such building to be removed or demolished, or shall contract for the removal or demolishing thereof, after advertising for and receipt of bids therefor.
The cost of filing legal papers, expert witness' fees, search fees and advertising charges incurred in the course of any proceeding taken under this chapter determined in favor of the Township, and the cost of such repairs, alterations and improvements, or vacating and closing, or removal or demolition, if any, or the amount of the balance thereof remaining after deduction of the sum, if any, realized from the sale of materials derived from such building or from the contract for the removal or demolition thereof, shall be a municipal lien against the real property upon which such cost was incurred. If any building is removed or demolished by the public officer, he or she shall sell the materials of such building. There shall be credited against the cost of the removal or demolition thereof, including the clearance and, if necessary, the leveling of the site, the proceeds of any sale of such materials or any sum derived from any contract for the removal or demolition of the building. If there are no such credits, or if the sum total of such costs exceeds the total of such credits, a detailed statement of the costs and the amount due shall be filed with the Tax Assessor and a copy thereof shall forthwith be forwarded to the owner by registered mail. If the total of the credits exceeds such cost, the balance remaining shall be deposited in the Superior Court by the public officer, shall be secured in such manner as may be directed by such court, and shall be disbursed according to the order or judgment of the court to the persons found to be entitled thereto by final order or judgment of such court; provided, however, that 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.
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.
[Amended 8-7-2005 by Ord. No. 2005-25]
A building may be declared unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use if it is determined that conditions exist in such building which are dangerous or injurious to the health or safety of the occupants, neighboring buildings or other residents of the Township. The following shall be deemed as standards for such determination. All buildings which have any one or more of the following defects may be deemed "dangerous buildings" and unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use:
Those whose interior walls or other vertical structure members list, lean or buckle to such an extent that a plumb line passing through the center of gravity falls outside of the middle third of its base.
Those which, exclusive of the foundation, show 33% or more of damage, or 50% of damage, disrepair or deterioration of the outside wall or covering.
Those which have improperly distributed loads upon the floors or roofs, or in which the same are overloaded or which have insufficient strength to be reasonably safe for the purpose used.
Those which have been damaged by fire, winds or other causes so as to have become dangerous to life, safety or general health and welfare of the occupants or the people of the Township.
Those which lack a supply of potable running water within the dwelling unit.
Those which have improper connections between plumbing fixtures and the sanitary sewerage system of the Township, provided that Township sewerage facilities are in existence.
Those which do not have at least one flush toilet for each dwelling unit, or, if present, is unfit for use.
Those which lack permanent, safe and reasonably efficient kitchen facilities within the dwelling unit, including sink.
Those with electric wiring which does not conform to Underwriters' standards.
Those which lack substantially adequate and safe heating facilities.
Those having toilets for bathrooms without adequate ventilation. All new construction must have windows for living room, bedroom and kitchen.
Those having inadequate facilities for egress in case of fire or panic, or those having insufficient stairways, fire escapes or other means of communication.
Those which have parts thereof which are so attached that they may fall and injure members of the public or property.
Those which have become so dilapidated, decayed, unsafe or unsanitary that they are unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use, or by reason of structural deficiencies or continued dampness or exposure brought about by neglect or dilapidation are likely to cause sickness or disease or may reasonably be presumed to result in injury to the health, safety or general welfare of those living therein.
Those buildings existing in violation of any of the provisions of the Uniform Construction Code, Fire Safety Code or other ordinances of the Township.
[Amended 8-7-2005 by Ord. No. 2005-25]
Complaints, notices or orders issued by the public officer pursuant to this chapter shall be served in the manner set forth in § 1-6C, Service of notice, of this Code. A copy of such complaint, notice or order shall be duly recorded in the office of the Clerk of Burlington County.
Any person aggrieved by an order issued by the public officer shall be entitled to bring an action within 30 days in the Superior Court for injunctive relief, in accordance with the provisions of N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.8.
The public officer is hereby authorized to exercise such powers as may be necessary or convenient to carry out and effectuate the purposes and provisions of this chapter, including the following powers in addition to others herein granted:
To investigate building conditions in the Township in order to determine which buildings are unfit for human habitation or use.
To administer oaths and affirmations, examine witnesses and receive evidence.
Upon complaints, to enter upon premises for the purpose of making examinations; provided that such entries shall be made in such a manner as to cause the least possible inconvenience to the person in possession.
Editor’s Note: Former § 100-13, Assistance of Substandard Housing Committee in determining remedy orders, was repealed 7-27-2010 by Ord. No. 2010-10.
The public officer shall delegate and fix the duties of such officers, agents and employees as he or she deems necessary to assist him or her in carrying out the purpose of this chapter, subject to the confirmation, by resolution, of the Township Council, and to delegate any of his or her functions and powers under this chapter to such officers, agents and employees as he or she may designate.
[Added 8-7-2005 by Ord. No. 2005-25]
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.