[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Committee of the Township of Pennsauken 3-13-1978 by Ord. No. 78-3 as Ch. 158 of the 1977 Code. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Unfit buildings — See Ch. 114.
Uniform construction codes — See Ch. 133.
Fire prevention — See Ch. 162.
Property maintenance — See Ch. 243.
Rental units — See Ch. 251.
Solid waste — See Ch. 269.
Public health nuisances — See Ch. 327.
The Construction Official of the Township of Pennsauken is hereby designated as the officer to exercise the powers prescribed by this chapter, and the Construction Official shall serve in such capacity without any additional salary.
Pursuant to the provision of P.L. 1946, c. 21 (N.J.S.A. 40:49-5.1), the New Jersey State Housing Code, as approved by the Departments of Health and Conservation and Economic Development and filed in the Secretary of State's office, is hereby accepted, adopted and established as a standard to be used as a guide in determining whether dwellings or other buildings in this municipality are safe, sanitary and fit for human habitation and rental. A copy of the New Jersey State Housing Code is annexed to this chapter, and three copies of the same have been placed on file in the office of the Municipal Clerk and are available to all persons desiring to use and examine the same.
Section 12.14 of the New Jersey State Housing Code, as it applies in the Township of Pennsauken, shall read as follows:
The Construction Official is hereby authorized and directed to make inspections to determine the condition of dwellings, dwelling units, rooming units, commercial buildings, industrial buildings or any other building and premises located within the Township of Pennsauken in order that he or she may perform the duty of safeguarding the health and safety of the occupants of the buildings or dwellings and of the general public. For the purpose of making such inspections, the Construction Official is hereby authorized to enter, examine and survey at all reasonable times all dwellings, dwelling units, rooming units, commercial buildings, industrial buildings or any other building or premises. The owner or occupant of every dwelling, dwelling unit, rooming unit, commercial building, industrial building or any other building, or the person in charge thereof, shall give the Construction Official free access to such dwellings, dwelling unit, rooming unit, commercial building, industrial building or any other building, or its premises, at all reasonable times for the purpose of making such inspection, examination and survey.
Every occupant of a dwelling, dwelling unit, rooming unit, commercial building, industrial building or any other building shall give the owner thereof, or his or her agent or employee, access to any part of such dwelling, dwelling unit, rooming unit, commercial building or industrial building, or its premises, at all reasonable times for the purpose of making such repairs or alterations as are necessary to effect compliance with the provision of this chapter or with any lawful rule or regulation adopted or any lawful order issued pursuant to the provisions of this chapter.
Whenever the Construction Official determines that there are reasonable grounds to believe that there has been a violation of any provision of this chapter, or of any rule or regulation adopted pursuant thereto, he or she shall give notice of such alleged violation to the person or persons responsible therefor as hereinafter provided.
Such notice shall:
Be put in writing.
Include a statement of the reasons why it is being issued.
Allow a reasonable time for the performance of any act it requires.
Be served upon the owner or his or her agent, or the occupant, as the case may require, provided that such notice shall be deemed to be properly served upon such owner or agent, or upon such occupant, if a copy thereof is served upon him or her personally; or if a copy thereof is sent by registered mail to his or her last known address; if a copy thereof is posted in a conspicuous place in or about the dwelling affected by the notice; or if the owner or agent is served with such notice by any other method authorized or required under the laws of this state.
Such notice may contain an outline of remedial action which, if taken, will effect compliance with the provisions of this chapter and with the rules and regulations adopted pursuant thereto.
Any person affected by any notice which has been issued in connection with the enforcement of any provision of this chapter, or of any rule or regulation adopted pursuant thereto, may request and shall be granted a hearing on the matter before the Construction Official, provided that such person shall file in the office of the Construction Official a written petition requesting such hearing and setting forth a brief statement of the grounds therefor within 10 days after the day the notice was served. Upon receipt of such petition, the Construction Official shall set a time and place for such hearing and shall give the petitioner written notice thereof. At such hearing the petitioner shall be given an opportunity to be heard and to show why such notice should be modified or withdrawn. The hearing shall be commenced not later than 10 days after the day on which the petition was filed, provided that, upon application of the petitioner, the Construction Official may postpone the date of the hearing for a reasonable time beyond the ten-day period if, in his or her judgment, the petitioner has submitted a good and sufficient reason for such postponement.
After such hearing the Construction Official shall sustain, modify or withdraw the notice depending upon his or her findings as to whether the provisions of this chapter and of the rules and regulations adopted pursuant thereto have been complied with. If the Construction Official sustains or modifies such notice, it shall be deemed to be an order. Any notice served pursuant to this chapter shall automatically become an order if a written petition for a hearing is not filed in the office of the Construction Official within 10 days after such notice is served.
The proceedings at such hearing, including the findings and decision of the Construction Official, shall be summarized, reduced to writing and entered as a matter of public record in the office of the Construction Official. Such records shall also include a copy of every notice or order issued in connection with the matter.
Any person aggrieved by the decision of the Construction Official may seek relief therefrom in any court of competent jurisdiction, as provided by the laws of the state.
Whenever the Construction Official finds that an emergency exists which requires immediate action to protect the public health or safety, he or she may, without notice or hearing, issue an order reciting the existence of such an emergency and requiring that such action be taken as he or she deems necessary to meet the emergency. Notwithstanding the other provisions of this chapter, such order shall be effective immediately. Any person to whom such order is directed shall comply therewith immediately but, upon petition to the Construction Official, shall be afforded a hearing as soon as possible. After such hearing, depending upon his or her findings as to whether the provisions of this chapter and of the rules and regulations adopted thereto have been complied with, the Construction Official shall continue such order in effect, modify it or revoke it.
If, after such notice and hearing, the Construction Official determines that the dwelling under consideration is unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use, the Construction Official 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 owner to:
Repair, alter or improve the said building within a reasonable time, which time shall be set forth in the order, or, at the option of the owner, vacate or have said building vacated and closed within the time set forth in the order.
Remove or demolish the said building within a reasonable time, as specified in the said order of removal, 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.
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 Construction Official may cause such building to be repaired, altered or improved, or to be vacated and closed. The Construction Official 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 Construction Official may cause such building to be removed or demolished or may contract for the removal or demolition thereof after advertisement for and receipt of bids therefor.
The amount of the cost of the filing of legal papers, expert witnesses' fees, search fees and advertising charges incurred in the course of any proceeding taken under this chapter determined in favor of the municipality and the costs of such repairs, alterations or improvements, or of 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 any contract for removal or demolition thereof, shall be a municipal lien against the real property upon which such cost was incurred.
If the building is removed or demolished by the Construction Official, he or she shall sell the materials of such building. The proceeds of any sale of such materials or any sum derived from any contract for the removal or demolition of the building shall be credited against the cost of the removal or demolition thereof. 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 aforesaid costs and the amount so due shall be filed with the Municipal Tax Assessor or other custodian of the records of tax liens and a copy thereof shall be forthwith forwarded to the owner by registered mail. If the total of the credits exceed such costs, the balance remaining shall be deposited in the Superior Court by the Construction Official, 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 person found to be entitled thereto by final order or judgment of such court; provided, however, that nothing in this section shall be construed to impair or limit in any way the power of the municipality 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 60 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.
Complaints or orders issued by the Construction Official 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 said Construction Official in the exercise of reasonable diligence, the said Construction Official shall make an affidavit to that effect. The serving of such complaint or order upon such persons may be made by publishing the same once each week for two successive weeks in a newspaper printed and published in the Township of Pennsauken. A copy of such complaint or order shall be posted in a conspicuous place on the premises affected by the complaint or order, and a copy of such complaint or order shall be duly recorded or lodged for record with the county recording office of the county in which the dwelling is located.
The Construction Official is hereby authorized and empowered to make and adopt such written rules and regulations as he or she may deem necessary for the proper enforcement of the provisions of this chapter; provided, however, that such rules and regulations shall not be in conflict with the provisions of this chapter nor in anywise alter, amend or supersede any of the provisions thereof. The Construction Official shall file a certified copy of all rules and regulations which he or she may adopt in his or her office and in the office of the Clerk of the Township of Pennsauken.
No person shall occupy as owner-occupant, or rent to another for occupancy, any dwelling or dwelling unit, for the purpose of living therein, which does not conform to the provisions of the New Jersey State Housing Code established hereby as the standard to be used in determining whether a dwelling is safe, sanitary and fit for human habitation.
[Amended 9-12-1984 by Ord. No. 84-26]
Any person, firm or corporation who shall violate any of the provisions of this chapter shall, upon conviction, be subject to one or more of the following: a fine not exceeding $1,250 or imprisonment in the county jail for a term not exceeding 90 days, or a period of community service not exceeding 90 days, in the discretion of the Municipal Court Judge. 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.