[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Town of Snow Hill as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
[Adopted 5-12-1998 by Ord. No. 1998-4]
Any person who has under his or her management or control any building, room, space, land or enclosure, either as an owner, lessee, agent, employee or mortgagee, who knowingly rents, leases or makes available for use, with or without compensation, the building, room, space, land or enclosure, for the purposes of unlawfully manufacturing, storing, distributing or using any controlled dangerous substance as defined by Article 27 of the Annotated Code of Maryland shall be guilty of a municipal infraction and subject to a fine of $100 for a first violation and a fine of $300 for each subsequent violation, plus any attorney's fees, process fees and court costs, if any.
Any person who has under his or her management or control any building, room, space, land or enclosure, either as an owner, lessee, agent, employee or mortgagee, who knowingly rents, leases or makes available for use, with or without compensation, the building, room, space, land or enclosure to a person or group of people, where complaints of excessive noise in violation of the town's Noise Ordinance, or disturbances to the public peace, including acts of disorderly conduct, or where other acts in violation of the laws of the State of Maryland or violations of the Snow Hill Town Code are routinely engaged in, shall be guilty of a municipal infraction and subject to a fine of $100 for a first violation and a fine of $300 for each subsequent violation, plus any attorney's fees, process fees and court costs, if any.
"Routinely engaged in" is defined as four or more violations in any thirty-day period of time, or more than eight times in any twelve-consecutive-month period; or in the case of a rental of any commercial or private facility or hall for the purposes of any party or event, to the same or substantially the same group who has committed violations three or more times in the past.
For a conviction or a violation of this article, the owner, lessee, agent, employee or mortgagee must either have firsthand knowledge of these activities or be served a written notice of warning by the Police Department.  The notice shall either be served in person or by mailing a notice by first class mail to the last known address and posting the property in a conspicuous manner. This article shall be enforced by the Police Department.
It is not necessary for an arrest and conviction to be made in each incident in order to initiate a prosecution under this article for a violation under § 134-1B of this article. It shall be sufficient to show documentation that complaints were verified by responding police officers; or, in the case of § 134-1A, that drugs were purchased from the premises by controlled purchases using confidential informants, or by undercover police officers, in the same manner as to obtain a search warrant in this state.
The standard of proof for conviction under this article shall be a preponderance of the evidence.
Continuing violations. If a property owner or other responsible person as identified in § 134-1A or B fails to take immediate steps to evict those person(s) as required by this article, the responsible person shall be fined as provided above. Each additional thirty-day period of time that the responsible person fails to initiate or continue the eviction proceedings shall constitute a separate and subsequent violation. Failure or refusal to pay the fine may result in the filing of a lien against the property. Nothing contained in this article shall impair any other right or course of action available to the town, including seeking an injunction or other court order.
All rental contracts issued by landlords registered to lease or rent apartments, buildings and land in the Town of Snow Hill as required by the Town Code  shall include the following rules providing for eviction of tenants as a breach of contract within 30 days, or less if allowed by law. Any existing contracts shall include these provisions as an additional clause at the beginning of the next rental period following final passage of this article.
Failure of the responsible person to make such modifications or additions as specified herein shall result in a suspension of their rental certificate issued by the Town of Snow Hill and/or a fine of $100 per month per apartment or rental unit found in noncompliance. Upon request, a responsible person shall provide a blank copy of the lease used for any unit rented in Snow Hill for inspection.
Sample notice to tenant.
The following is a sample letter of notice to the property owner:
[Adopted 7-12-2016 by Ord. No. 2016-01]
The purpose of this article is to establish a mechanism to protect residential and commercial neighborhoods from becoming blighted through lack of adequate maintenance and to ensure the security of vacant properties.
The provisions of this article are in addition to and not in lieu of any other applicable provision of the Town of Snow Hill Code of Ordinances.
The following terms shall have the meaning indicated, unless the context clearly indicates a different meaning:
- BLIGHTED BUILDING
- Any building or portion thereof, along with the lot on which it exists, that poses a serious or immediate danger to the health, safety or general welfare of the public or is not being maintained, is dilapidated, or is an obvious nuisance as deemed by the Code Official. Examples include, but are not limited to, missing or boarded windows or doors; collapsing or missing walls, roofs or floors; seriously damaged or missing siding; structurally faulty foundations; garbage, trash or abandoned/unregistered vehicles on premises; overgrown diseased, dead or decayed trees, weeds and vegetation; unmaintained swimming pool, pond, or other body of water; graffiti; fire damage; harbors vermin or other animal nuisances.
- A building or structure where, in place of one or more exterior doors, other than a storm door or of one or more windows, there is plywood or similar material covering the space for such door or window so that a door or window is secured.
- Any combination of materials having a roof and enclosed within exterior walls or firewalls, built to form a structure for the shelter of persons or property, excluding accessory structures that are incidental to the principal structure located on the same lot.
- COMMERCIAL STOREFRONT
- Any area within a building that may be individually leased or rented for commercial use.
- EVIDENCE OF VACANCY
- A condition that on its own or combined with other conditions would reasonably be believed that the property is vacant, which includes, but is not limited to, overgrown or dead vegetation; accumulation of newspapers, circulars, or mail; past due utility notices or disconnected utilities; accumulation of trash or debris; absence of window coverings (curtains, blinds); absence of furnishings or personal items associated with residential habitation; and statements from neighbors, delivery agents, government officials, etc. that the property is vacant.
- A building or structure where one or more persons actually conducts a lawful business in all or any part of the building as the licensed business occupant, or as the legal or equitable owner/occupant(s) or tenant(s) on a permanent, nontransient basis, or any combination of the same. For purposes of this article, evidence offered to prove that a building is so occupied may include, but shall not be limited to, proof of continual electric, gas, heating, and water and sewer services.
- Any person, beneficiary, co-partnership, association, trust, corporation or fiduciary having a legal or equitable title or interest in any real property.
- OWNER OF RECORD
- The person or legal entity having a recorded title to the property that has, at any given time, been recorded in the Maryland Land Records.
- PROPERTY PLAN
- This plan identifies the owner's plans for the building or structure; its current status; and the measures in place to ensure that the building is secured and how it will be maintained, in compliance with applicable Town Codes.
- A building or structure that has a permanent door or window in each appropriate building opening that is secured to deter vandalism and unauthorized entry, and has all its door and window components, including frames, jambs, rails, stiles, muntins, mullions, panels, sashes, lights and panes intact and unbroken.
- Any vacant or abandoned building or structure not continuously secured, maintained, locked or boarded to deter vandalism and unauthorized entry; fails to provide protection from weather damage; and is an attractive nuisance to children, vagrants, criminals, or other unauthorized persons.
- A building structure in which there is no habitual presence of persons who have a legal right to be on the premises, or in which all lawful business, construction activity, or residential occupancy has substantially ceased, or which is substantially devoid of contents.
Applicability. This article shall be applicable to any building or structure designed or used for residential or commercial uses or purposes that has been vacant for at least 90 consecutive days. Evidence of vacant or blighted buildings includes, but is not limited to:
Property is habitually vacant for long periods unrelated to the normal commercial vacancy cycle;
Attracts illegal activity and calls for service, as documented by the Police Department;
Is a fire hazard, as determined by the Fire Marshal or as documented by the Fire Department;
Creates a substantial and unreasonable interference with the reasonable and lawful use and enjoyment of other space within a residential or commercial neighborhood, as documented by resident or business complaints, or cancellations of insurance on adjacent properties or increased cost of insurance;
Partially constructed, reconstructed, or demolished building or structure upon which work was abandoned, showing no current building or demolition permit or when no substantial work on the project has been done for a period of six consecutive months or more.
Exemptions. The following are exempt from the provisions of this article.
A resident on an extended vacation or alternative living arrangement, including over winter months, with the intention to return to the property and live. A verified emergency contact number for the property owner or responsible party must be provided and the property must be maintained by a local person/agent so that is does not appear vacant.
A building that has suffered fire damage if the cleanup, repair or demolition is completed within 120 days from the date of the fire. Written request for exemption must be provided.
The Town shall notify a property owner of a building or structure that is deemed vacant or blighted. The notice shall include supporting documentation, such as photos, water usage reports, or any such information in support of the determination.
Registration. The owner of a vacant or blighted building or structure shall file a registration statement for each such building or structure with the Town on forms provided by the Town. Registration shall be required for all vacant or blighted buildings or structures, whether vacant and secured, vacant and unsecured, or vacant and boarded, whenever any building or structure has remained vacant for 90 consecutive days or more.
Contents. The registration form shall consist of the following information:
Registration. There is no fee for the registration of a property, if it is registered within 30 days of receiving notice from the town's Code Official, identifying reasons for the determination as a vacant or blighted property.
The owner, or the responsible person or agent for the owner, shall notify the Town Code Official within 30 days of any change to the information contained in the registration statement on file with the Town.
Properties not registered after 30 days notice shall be fined $100. If unpaid, within 90 days the fine will become a lien on the property and collected in the same manner as real estate taxes.
The property owner shall have 30 days from the date of the report to appeal the determination or to provide evidence in writing to the Code Official showing proof that the property is not vacant or blighted. Upon receipt, the Code Official will schedule a hearing within 10 days before the Housing Review Board for a final determination as to whether or not the building or structure is vacant and/or blighted.