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Town of Rock Hall, MD
Kent County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Town of Rock Hall 10-6-1977 by Ord. No. 26. (The provisions of this chapter are derived from Chapters 3 and 5 of the former Code of Ordinances of the Town of Rock Hall, adopted 10-6-1977 by Ord. No. 26. Former Section 508, concerning condemnation procedures for unfit dwellings, was omitted as having been superseded by subsequent legislation; see Ch. 85, Buildings and Structures, Unsafe.) Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Plumbing Board — See Ch. 40.
Utilities Board — See Ch. 61.
Brush, weeds and vegetation — See Ch. 77.
Building construction generally — See Ch. 81.
Unsafe buildings and structures — See Ch. 85.
Fire prevention — See Ch. 110.
Garbage, rubbish and waste — See Ch. 125.
Plumbing — See Ch. 167.
Sewers — See Ch. 184.
Water — See Ch. 220.
No person shall occupy as owner-occupant or let to another for occupancy any dwelling or dwelling unit, for the purpose of living, sleeping, cooking or eating therein, which does not comply with the following requirements:
A. 
Every dwelling unit shall contain a kitchen sink in good working condition and properly connected to a water and sewer system approved by the Mayor and Council of Rock Hall.
B. 
Every dwelling unit, except as otherwise permitted under Subsection D of this section, shall contain a room which affords privacy to a person within said room and which is equipped with a flush water closet and a lavatory basin in good working condition and properly connected to a water and sewer system approved by the Mayor and Council.
C. 
Every dwelling unit, except as otherwise permitted under Subsection D of this section, shall contain, within a room which affords privacy to a person within said room, a bathtub or shower in good working condition and properly connected to a water and sewer system approved by the Mayor and Council.
D. 
The occupants of not more than two dwelling units may share a single flush water closet, a single lavatory basin and a single bathtub or shower if:
(1) 
Neither of the two dwelling units contains more than two rooms, provided that, for the purposes of this subsection, a kitchenette or an efficiency kitchen with not more than 60 square feet of floor area shall not be counted as a room; and that
(2) 
The habitable area of each of such dwelling units shall equal not more than 250 square feet of floor area; and that
(3) 
Such water closet, lavatory basin and bathtub or shower shall be in good working condition and properly connected to a water and sewer system approved by the Mayor and Council.
E. 
Every kitchen sink, lavatory basin and bathtub or shower required under the provisions of Subsections A, B, C, and D of this section shall be properly connected with both hot and cold water lines.
F. 
Every dwelling unit shall be supplied with adequate rubbish storage facilities, the type and location of which shall be approved by the Mayor and Council.
G. 
Every dwelling unit shall have adequate garbage disposal facilities or garbage storage containers, the type and location of which shall be approved by the Mayor and Council.
H. 
Every dwelling shall have supplied water-heating facilities which are properly installed, are maintained in safe and good working condition, are properly connected with the hot-water lines required under the provisions of Subsection E of this section and are capable of heating water to such a temperature as to permit an adequate amount of water to be drawn at every required kitchen sink, lavatory basin, bathtub or shower.
(1) 
Every dwelling unit shall have safe, unobstructed means of egress leading to safe and open space at ground level.
No person shall occupy as owner-occupant or let to another for occupancy any dwelling or dwelling unit, for the purpose of living therein, which does not comply with the following requirements:
A. 
Every habitable room shall have at least one window or skylight facing directly to the outdoors. The minimum total window area, measured between studs, for every habitable room shall be 10% of the floor area of such room. Whenever walls or other portions of structures face a window of any such room and sunlight-obstruction structures are located less than three feet from the window and extend to a level above that of the ceiling of the room, such a window shall not be deemed to face directly to the outdoors and shall not be included as contributing to the required minimum total window area. Whenever the only window in a room is a skylight-type window in the top of such room, the total window area of such skylight shall equal at least 15% of the total floor area of such room.
B. 
Every habitable room shall have at least one window or skylight which can easily be opened or such other device as will adequately ventilate the room.
C. 
Every bathroom and water closet compartment shall comply with the light and ventilation requirements for habitable rooms contained in §§ 133-1 and 133-2, except that no window or skylight shall be required in adequately ventilated bathrooms and water closet compartments equipped with a ventilation system which is kept in continuous operation and approved by the Mayor and Council.
D. 
Where there is electric service available from power lines which are not more than 300 feet away from a dwelling, every habitable room of such dwelling shall contain at least two separate floor- or wall-type electric convenience outlets, or one such convenience outlet and one supplied ceiling-type electric light fixture; and every water closet compartment, bathroom, laundry room, furnace room and public hall shall contain at least one supplied ceiling- or wall-type electric light fixture. Every such outlet and fixture shall be properly installed, shall be maintained in good and safe working condition and shall be connected to the source of electric power in a safe manner.
E. 
Every dwelling shall have heating facilities which are properly installed, are maintained in safe and good working condition and are capable of safely and adequately heating all habitable rooms, bathrooms and water closet compartments in every dwelling unit located therein to a temperature of at least 70°F. at a distance three feet above floor level, under ordinary minimum winter conditions.
F. 
Every public hall and stairway in every multiple dwelling containing five or more dwelling units shall be adequately lighted at all times. Every public hall and stairway in structures devoted solely to dwelling occupancy and containing not more than four dwelling units may be supplied with conveniently located light switches, controlling an adequate lighting system which may be turned on when needed, instead of full-time lighting.
G. 
During that portion of each year when the Mayor and Council deem it necessary for protection against mosquitoes, flies and other insects, every door opening directly from a dwelling unit to outdoor space shall have supplied screens and a self-closing device; and every window or other device with openings to outdoor space used or intended to be used for ventilation shall likewise be supplied with screens, provided that such screens shall not be required during such period in rooms deemed by the Mayor and Council to be located high enough in the upper stories of buildings as to be free from such insects and in rooms located in areas of the town which are deemed by the Mayor and Council to have so few such insects as to render screens unnecessary.
H. 
Every basement or cellar window used or intended to be used for ventilation and every other opening to a basement which might provide an entry for rodents shall be supplied with a screen or such other device as will effectively prevent their entrance.
No person shall occupy as owner-occupant or let to another for occupancy any dwelling or dwelling unit, for the purpose of living therein, which does not comply with the following requirements:
A. 
Every foundation, floor, wall, ceiling and roof shall be reasonably weathertight, watertight and rodentproof; shall be capable of affording privacy; and shall be kept in good repair.
B. 
Every window, exterior door and basement hatchway shall be reasonably weathertight, watertight and rodentproof and shall be kept in sound working condition and good repair.
C. 
Every inside and outside stair, every porch and every appurtenance thereto shall be so constructed as to be safe to use and capable of supporting the load that normal use may cause to be placed thereon and shall be kept in sound condition and good repair.
D. 
Every plumbing fixture and water and waste pipe shall be properly installed and maintained in good sanitary working condition, free from defects, leaks and obstructions.
E. 
Every water closet compartment floor surface and bathroom floor surface shall be constructed and maintained so as to be reasonably impervious to water and so as to permit such floor to be easily kept in a clean and sanitary condition.
F. 
Every supplied facility, piece of equipment or utility which is required under this article shall be so constructed or installed that it will function safely and effectively and shall be maintained in satisfactory working condition.
G. 
No owner, operator or occupant shall cause any service, facility, equipment or utility which is required under this article to be removed from, shut off from or discontinued for any occupied dwelling let or occupied by him except for such temporary interruption as may be necessary while actual repairs or alterations are in process or during temporary emergencies when discontinuance of service is approved by the Mayor and Council.
H. 
No owner shall occupy or let to any other occupant any vacant dwelling unit unless it is clean, sanitary and fit for human occupancy.
No person shall occupy or let to another for occupancy any dwelling or dwelling unit, for the purpose of living therein, which does not comply with the following requirements:
A. 
Every dwelling unit shall contain at least 150 square feet of floor space for the first occupant thereof and at least 100 additional square feet of floor space for every additional occupant thereof, the floor space to be calculated on the basis of total habitable room area.
B. 
In every dwelling unit of two or more rooms, every room occupied for sleeping purposes by one occupant shall contain at least 60 square feet.
C. 
No dwelling or dwelling unit containing two or more sleeping rooms shall have such room arrangements that access to a bathroom or water closet compartment intended for use by occupants of more than one sleeping room can be had only by going through another sleeping room; nor shall room arrangements be such that access to a sleeping room can be had only by going through another sleeping room or a bathroom or water closet compartment.
D. 
At least 1/2 of the floor area of every habitable room shall have a ceiling height of at least seven feet; and the floor area of that part of any room where the ceiling height is less than five feet shall not be considered as part of the floor area in computing the total floor area of the room for the purpose of determining the maximum permissible occupancy thereof.
E. 
No cellar space shall be used as a habitable room or dwelling unit.
F. 
No basement space shall be used as a habitable room or dwelling unit unless:
(1) 
The floor and walls are impervious to leakage of underground and surface runoff water and are insulated against dampness.
(2) 
The total of window area in each room is equal to at least the minimum window area sizes as required in § 133-2.
(3) 
Such required minimum window area is located entirely above the grade of the ground adjoining such window area.
A. 
Every owner of a dwelling containing two or more dwelling units shall be responsible for maintaining in a clean and sanitary condition the shared or public areas of the dwelling and premises thereof.
B. 
Every occupant of a dwelling or dwelling unit shall keep in a clean and sanitary condition that part of the dwelling, dwelling unit and premises thereof which said occupant occupies and controls.
C. 
Every occupant of a dwelling or dwelling unit shall dispose of all his or her rubbish in a clean and sanitary manner by placing it in the rubbish containers required by § 133-1 of this article.
D. 
Every occupant of a dwelling or dwelling unit shall dispose of all his garbage, and any other organic waste which might provide food for rodents, in a clean and sanitary manner by placing it in the garbage disposal facilities or garbage storage containers required by this article. It shall be the responsibility of the owner to supply such facilities or containers for all dwelling units in a dwelling containing more than four dwelling units and for all dwelling units located on premises where more than four dwelling units share the same premises. In all other cases, it shall be the responsibility of the occupant to furnish such facilities or containers.
E. 
Every occupant of a dwelling or dwelling unit shall be responsible for hanging all screens and double or storm doors and windows whenever the same are required under the provisions of this article or any rule or regulation adopted pursuant thereto, except where the owner has agreed to supply such service.
F. 
Every occupant of a dwelling containing a single dwelling unit shall be responsible for the extermination of any insects, rodents or other pests therein or on the premises; and every occupant of a dwelling unit in a dwelling containing more than one dwelling unit shall be responsible for such extermination whenever his dwelling unit is the only one infested. Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of this subsection, whenever infestation is caused by failure of the owner to maintain a dwelling in a ratproof or reasonably insectproof condition, extermination shall be the responsibility of the owner. Whenever infestation exists in two or more of the dwelling units in any dwelling or in the shared public parts of any dwelling containing two or more dwelling units, extermination thereof shall be the responsibility of the owner.
G. 
Every occupant of a dwelling unit shall keep all plumbing fixtures therein in a clean and sanitary condition and shall be responsible for the exercise of reasonable care in the proper use and operation thereof.
The purpose of this article is to require that dwellings be kept clean and free from dirt, filth, rubbish, garbage and similar matter, that they be kept free from vermin and rodent infestation and in such repair as to be fit for human habitation; to provide for the removal of snow from sidewalks by the owners or occupants of abutting property, to provide for the control of weeds on vacant lots or other properties within the town limits; and to authorize the Mayor and Council to issue orders compelling compliance with the provisions hereof and to correct such conditions at the expense of the property occupants or owner or owners of properties upon which violations occur.
[Amended 8-10-1979 by Ord. No. 79-6]
For the purposes of this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
DWELLING
Any house or building or portion thereof which is occupied in whole or in part as a home, residence or sleeping place of one or more human beings, either permanently or transiently.
DWELLING UNIT
A room or group of rooms intended to be occupied by one family or household as their home and where they sleep.
HABITABLE ROOM
A room which is designed or may be used for living, sleeping, eating or cooking. Storerooms, bathrooms, toilets, closets, halls or space in attics or basements are not habitable rooms, except as permitted in § 133-18.
IMPROVED PROPERTY
Any lot or parcel of land which is improved or is proposed to be improved with principal and accessory buildings and structures, including driveways, signs and other man-made improvements on the ground surface.
LOT
A designated parcel, tract or area of land, established by a plat or otherwise as permitted by law, to be used, developed or built upon as a unit.
PREMISES
A lot, plot or parcel of land, including the buildings or structures thereon.
YARD
Any open space which lies between the principal or accessory building or buildings and the nearest lot line.
It shall be unlawful for any owner or owners, tenant or tenants or occupants of any premises, lot or tract of land, vacant lots or any improved property in the Town of Rock Hall to permit or maintain on any such property any accumulation of dirt, filth, rubbish, garbage, brush, weeds or similar matter as to be a danger to the health of any occupant thereof or hazard to the adjoining property thereto, and such property shall be kept free from vermin and rodent infestation. All yards, lawns, lots and vacant areas immediately adjacent to improved property shall be kept clean and free from weeds and brush exceeding 12 inches in height. It shall be the duty of each occupant or owner of a dwelling unit, lot or vacant area to keep in a clean condition that portion of the property which he occupies or over which he has exclusive control. If the occupant or owner shall fail to keep his portion of the property clean as provided above, the Mayor and Council may send a written notice to such occupant or owner requesting him to remedy said condition within the time specified in said notice, said time not to be less than three days. Failure of such occupant or owner to comply with such notice within such time shall be deemed a violation of this article, and, upon conviction, such occupant or owner shall be subject to the penalty or penalties herein provided.
Every dwelling and every part thereof shall be maintained in such good repair by the owner or agent as to be fit for human habitation.
A. 
Whenever any dwelling or any building, structure, excavation, matter, condition or thing in or about a dwelling or the lot on which it is situated or the plumbing, sewerage system, drainage, light or ventilation thereof is found by the Mayor and Council to be dangerous or detrimental to life or health, the Mayor and Council may order that matter, condition or thing to be removed, abated, suspended, altered or otherwise improved, as the order shall specify. If any such order of the Mayor and Council issued under the authority of the provisions of this section is not complied with within three days after service thereof, then such order may be executed by the Mayor and Council through the town's officers, agents, employees or contractors, and the expense incurred incident to the execution of said order shall be paid by the owner of said property, and such expense may be recovered by the town by appropriate legal action, or the Mayor and Council may order such premises vacated until such premises shall be made to comply with the conditions of this article. Before proceeding to execute such order, a copy of such notice shall be sent to the owner of the property or his agent if names and addresses, on diligent search, can be ascertained, and such notice shall be posted on said premises at least three days before the town shall proceed to incur such expenses, unless the condition is of such character as to require immediate action, in which case the time of the notice shall be such as, in the judgment of the Mayor and Council, is reasonable and proper.
B. 
Whenever it shall be found by the Mayor and Council that a dwelling is unfit for human habitation or is dangerous to life or health by reason of want of repair, of defects in the drainage, plumbing, lighting, ventilation or the construction of the same, by reason of the existence on the premises of any occupants of said dwelling or for any other causes affecting the public health, the Mayor and Council may issue an order requiring such dwelling to be vacated after the expiration of 15 days from the date that said order was served on the owner or occupant and he has been given an opportunity to be heard. A copy of such order shall be sent to the owner of the property or his agent if names and address, on diligent search, can be ascertained. The dwelling so ordered to be vacated shall not again be occupied until a written statement shall have been secured from the Mayor and Council showing that the dwelling has been made to comply with this or any other existing law and has been made fit for occupancy.
Whenever any person or persons shall be in actual possession of or have charge, care or control of any property within the town limits as executor, administrator, trustee, guardian or agent, such person or persons shall be deemed and taken to be the owner or owners of such property within the intent and meaning of this article and shall be bound to comply with the provisions of this article to the same extent as the owner, and notice to any such person of any order or decision of the Mayor and Council shall be deemed and taken to be a good and sufficient notice as if such person or persons were actually the owner or owners of such property.
The Mayor and Council are hereby authorized and empowered to make and adopt such rules and regulations as they may deem proper and necessary for the enforcement of this article for the better production of the health of the town under the authority granted by this section.
The rules and regulations set forth in §§ 133-7 and 133-14 through 133-27, both inclusive, shall govern the erection, construction and maintenance of all structures within the town limits used for human habitation.
The basement or cellar of any dwelling shall be dry and ventilated and shall be kept free from rubbish accumulation and rodent infestation.
Every dwelling and every dwelling unit shall be weatherproof and capable of being adequately heated, and the heating equipment in every building or dwelling unit shall be maintained in good order and repair.
The floors and walls of every dwelling and every dwelling unit shall be kept free from dampness.
Every habitable room in a dwelling or dwelling unit shall contain a window or windows opening directly to the outside air, and the total area of such window and windows shall not be less than 10% of the floor area of such room. All window sashes shall be glazed and provided with suitable hardware and shall be made to open to the extent of not less than 5% of the floor area of such room.
No room in any basement or cellar shall be occupied as a habitable room unless:
A. 
The clear inner height is at least seven feet.
B. 
The uppermost three feet of the required clean inner height is above the average outside ground level.
C. 
The floor and walls are waterproof and dampproof in accordance with an approved method, if in contact with earth. Such waterproofing shall be between the floor or wall finish and the ground.
No room shall be used for sleeping purposes unless there is at least 400 cubic feet of air space and 50 square feet of floor space for each adult and at least 200 cubic feet of air space and 30 square feet of floor space for each child under the age of 12 years occupying such room. No room used for sleeping purposes shall have a floor area of less than 60 square feet.
The occupancy of any dwelling unit having more than one habitable room shall not exceed an average of 11/2 persons per habitable room. For the purpose of this regulation, any child under one year of age shall be deemed to be 1/2 person.
In every dwelling unit containing two or more rooms, there shall be running water and at least one sink connected to an approved sewage disposal system.
Where more than two persons occupy any dwelling unit, food shall not be prepared or cooked in any room used for sleeping purposes.
There shall be at least one water closet for each 10 persons or fraction thereof occupying a dwelling, which water closet shall be within and accessible from within the building. The use of antifreeze toilets that have cross-connections between the water supply and sewer system is expressly prohibited.
All plumbing, water closets and other plumbing fixtures in every dwelling or dwelling unit shall be maintained in good order and repair.
Every toilet and every bathroom in a dwelling shall be provided with adequate light and ventilation, four square feet of free air space or its equal in forced ventilation.
Every dwelling and every dwelling unit shall be provided with such receptacles to contain all garbage, rubbish and ashes as may be necessary, and all such receptacles shall be at all times maintained in good order and repair. Receptacles for garbage shall be made of metal, watertight, provided with tight covers and shall not exceed 20 gallons in capacity. All rubbish and ashes shall be deposited in suitable receptacles for collection. However, such receptacles shall not exceed 100 pounds' capacity when filled.
There shall be for each dwelling unit a separate access either to a hallway, landing, stairway or street.
It shall be unlawful for any person, persons or corporation to place, store or accumulate an excessive amount on public or private property within the town limits of any empty oyster shells, clamshells or other seafood refuse in excess of one bushel per day so as to create a health hazard that would be detrimental to the citizens of the town. This shall not be applicable to any individual private homeowner or individual family. Any person, persons or corporation that has a bushel of empty shells or refuse as aforesaid on its premises must remove the same outside the town limits within 24 hours.
All courts, yards or other areas on the premises of every dwelling shall be properly graded and drained.
Whenever the violation of any of the foregoing rules shall continue for a period of 15 days, the Mayor may notify the owner of the premises wherein such violation occurs that he has been advised of such violation and that a hearing will be held at a time and place stated in said notice by the Mayor and Council not less than five days thereafter, at which time said owner may be heard, and if, upon said hearing, the Mayor and Council are satisfied that such violation exists, they may thereupon order said condition to be abated; and unless the owner of said property makes the necessary changes so as to comply with said rules and regulations, the Mayor and Council shall have the right to cause said building to be vacated and to remain vacated until said rules have been complied with.
The foregoing §§ 133-6 through 133-28, both inclusive, contain minimum requirements for the protection of health and are in addition and supplementary to any other ordinances, laws, rules and regulations, and nothing therein shall be construed to affect in any manner any of the powers and duties of the State Board of Health or County Board of Health or any public general law or public local law relating to the subject of health.
[Added 3-7-1991 by Res. No. 91-1]
Within the context of a small rural town, the Town of Rock Hall, Maryland, defines an area of slum and blight as an area with 25% of buildings or public improvements in a state of deterioration or neglect. The percent of public facilities is a combination of all facilities. An area must meet at least one of the following conditions:
A. 
An area shows objectively determinable signs of physical deterioration or dilapidated buildings. At least 1/4 of all the buildings in the area must be in a state of deterioration and/or neglect. One indicator of deterioration and neglect is a history of long-term vacancy of structure. Physical deterioration of buildings includes but is not limited to loosened brick joints; peeling paint; broken windows; cracked walls and foundations; lack of adequate fire exits; faulty or nonexisting smoke detectors; structural flaws; under porches or steps; rotted or malfunctioning rain gutter; broken, loosened or lacking exterior siding; rotted wood soffit or sill plates; missing roof shingles; sagging roof structures; and other fire and safety hazards in violation of federal, state and local laws, including the BOCA Building Code and Livability Code administered by Kent County. Fire and safety hazards will include old wiring in which the exterior casing is frayed, cracking and missing creating exposed areas of wires; disconnected and derelict power cables and meter hoses left attached to buildings; and poorly secured or unsecured power cables.
B. 
Public improvements throughout the area are in a general state of deterioration or are found to be substandard. Deterioration of public facilities includes cracked, broken and nonexisting sidewalks and curbs; oversized sidewalks which are inconsistent in size and create small congested traffic lanes; streetlights and utility poles which are poorly located and do not provide adequate lighting for pedestrians; utility poles out of plumb and located in a way so as to obstruct pedestrian and vehicle traffic; an accumulation of overhead utility wires which through its mass creates a visual blight on the streetscape; substandard water and sewer facilities, including water lines not at proper depth; and any fire and safety hazards in violation of federal, state and local laws.