[HISTORY: Adopted by the Bloomfield Council 2-22-2000 by Ord. No. 00-02 (Ch. 159 of the 1987 Code). Amendments noted where applicable.]
Building construction — See Ch. 149.
Fire prevention and protection — See Ch. 239.
Flood damage prevention — See Ch. 250.
Property maintenance — See Ch. 423.
Unfit buildings — See Ch. 601.
Editor's Note: This ordinance superseded former Ch. 159, Housing Standards, adopted 9-7-1993.
The following terms, whenever used or referred to in this chapter, shall have the following respective meanings for the purposes hereof unless a different meaning clearly appears from the context:
- Any building or structure, or part thereof, used for human habitation.
- CONSTRUCTION CODE OFFICIAL
- Appointed by the governing body of the Township of Bloomfield.
- GOVERNING BODY
- The Mayor and Township Council of the Township of Bloomfield.
- The owner or owners in fee of the property or a lesser estate therein, a mortgagee or vendee in possession, as assignee or rents, receiver, executor, trustee, lessee or any other person, firm or corporation, directly or indirectly in control of building, structure or real property, and shall include any subdivision thereof of the state.
- PARTIES IN INTEREST
- All individuals, associations and corporations who have an interest of record in a building and any who are in actual possession thereof.
- PUBLIC AUTHORITY
- Any housing authority or any official who is in charge of any department or branch of the government of the Township of Bloomfield relating to health, fire, building regulation or to other activities concerning buildings in the Township of Bloomfield.
Whenever it shall be found that there exists in the Township of Bloomfield buildings which are unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use due to dilapidation, disrepair, structural defects increasing the hazards of fire, accidents or other calamities, lack of adequate ventilation, light or sanitary facilities or due to other conditions rending such building unsafe or unsanitary and dangerous or detrimental to the health or safety or otherwise inimical to the welfare of the resident, the Construction Code Official shall, upon the filing of a petition by a public authority or by at least five residents of the Township of Bloomfield charging that any building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, or if it shall appear to such Construction Code Official, on his own motion, that any building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, make a preliminary investigation or cause such preliminary investigation to be made concerning the basis of such charges.
Buildings shall be considered unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, within the meaning hereof, when one or more of the following conditions are found to exist:
Condition of structure. The condition of the structure is such as to make it unsafe or unsanitary through the presence of serious safety hazards resulting from the need for repairs to the roof, walls, ceiling, floors or stairs or through the presence of serious health hazards resulting from continuous dampness or exposure brought about by neglect or dilapidation.
Water supply. Lack of potable running water within each dwelling or lack of hot-water facilities available to each dwelling.
Sewerage system. No connection between plumbing fixtures and adequate sewage disposal system.
Toilet facilities. No flush toilet fit for use in each building.
Bath facilities. No bathtub or shower fit for use in each dwelling.
Kitchen facilities. Lack of permanent, safe and reasonable efficient kitchen facilities within each dwelling unit, including a sink with running water and provision for a cooking stove; lack of utilities (gas or electrical) supplied for cooking facilities.
Lighting facilities. Building inadequately wired for electricity; lack of electrical services.
Heating facilities. Heating facilities inadequate or unsafe.
Light and ventilation. Living room, bedroom or kitchen with no windows or with windows opening on an air shaft; or toilet or bathroom without adequate ventilation.
Unsecured building. Any building without adequate doors or windows in place capable of being locked or otherwise secured to prevent the unauthorized entrance into said building by any person.
If a preliminary investigation shall disclose to the Construction Code Official a basis for the charges filed, he shall issue and cause to be served upon the owner of and parties of interest in such building a complaint stating the charges in that respect. Said complaint shall also contain a notice that a hearing will be held before him at a place therein fixed not less than seven days nor more than 30 days after the serving of said complaint.
The owner and parties in interest shall have the right to file an answer to the complaint and to appear in person, by counsel or otherwise and give testimony at the time and place fixed in the complaint. The rules of evidence prevailing in courts of law or equity shall not be controlling in a hearing before the Construction Code Official.
The Construction Code Official may determine that a building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use if he finds that conditions exist in such building which are dangerous or injurious to the health or safety of the occupants of such building, the occupants of neighboring buildings or other residents of the Township of Bloomfield. Such conditions may include, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, defects increasing the hazards of fire, accidents or other calamities, lack of adequate ventilation, light or sanitary facilities, dilapidation, disrepair, structural defects, uncleanliness and such other conditions as heretofore set forth.
When, after such notice and hearing, the Construction Code Official determines that the building or portion thereof under consideration is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, he shall state, in writing, his findings of fact in support of such determination and shall issue and cause to be served upon the owner thereof and the parties in interest an order requiring the repair, alteration or improvement of the building to be made by the owner within a reasonable time, which time shall be set forth in the order or, at the option of the owner, to vacate or have said building or portion thereof vacated and closed within the time set forth 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 Code Official may cause such building to be repaired, altered and improved or to be vacated and closed. The Construction Code Official shall 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."
The amount of the cost of such repairs, alterations or improvements or vacating and closing or removal, when done by the Construction Code Official, shall be a municipal lien against the real property upon which such cost was incurred. Nothing in this section shall be construed to impair or limit in any way the power of the Township of Bloomfield to define and declare nuisances and to cause their removal or abatement by summary proceedings or otherwise.
The complaint or orders issued by the Construction Code Official, pursuant to this chapter, shall be served upon persons either personally or by registered mail, but if the whereabouts of persons is unknown and cannot be ascertained by the Construction Code Official in the exercise of reasonable diligence, the Construction Code Official shall make an affidavit to that effect, then the serving of such complaint or order upon such persons may be made by publishing the same once in a newspaper printed and published in the Township of Bloomfield or circulated within the Township. A copy of such complaint or order shall be posted in a conspicuous place on the premises affected by the complaint or order. A copy of such complaint or order shall be duly recorded or lodged for the record with the Essex County Register's office.
Remedies herein provided shall be exclusive remedies, and no person affected by an order of the Construction Code Official shall be entitled to recover any damage for action taken pursuant to any order of the Construction Code Official or because of noncompliance by such person with any order of the Construction Code Official.
In addition to the powers herein granted to the Construction Code Official, he shall also have the following powers:
To investigate the building conditions in the Township of Bloomfield in order to determine which buildings therein are unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use.
To administer oaths and affirmations and examine witnesses and receive evidence.
To enter upon premises for the purpose of making an examination, provided that such entries shall be made in such manner as to cause the least possible inconvenience to the persons in possession.
The Township of Bloomfield, by resolution of the Mayor and Township Council, may abate any nuisance, correct any defect or put the premises in proper condition so as to comply with the requirements of any municipal ordinance or state law applicable thereto, at the cost of the owner or lessor, expend municipal funds for such purpose and charge the same against the premises, and the amount thereof, as determined by the governing body of the Township of Bloomfield, shall be a lien against the premises and collectible as provided under the law.
The Township of Bloomfield, by resolution of the Mayor and Township Council of the Township of Bloomfield, may appoint a custodian of any such building or structure on behalf of the Township, who may be either an officer of the municipality or any other person specially designated to enter into and take charge of the premises and supervise abatement of the nuisance, the correction of the defective condition or the maintenance of the premises in a proper condition so as to conform to the requirements of the Township ordinances and State laws applicable thereto. In any such case, the compensation of the custodian shall be as provided in the resolution and the costs and expenses shall be a lien against the premises and collectible as provided under the law.
In the event that any owner of a building or structure in the Township of Bloomfield shall violate this chapter or fail to abate a condition harmful to the health and safety of the occupants of the building or structure and the general public in the municipality after notice and opportunity so do, the Construction Code Official designated by the governing body of the Township of Bloomfield to administer and enforce this chapter may, by and with the approval of the governing body of such municipality, bring an action in the Superior Court for appointment of a receiver ex officio of the rents and income of such real property for the purpose of collecting the rents and income from such property and expend the same for the purpose of abating said conditions. Said rents and income so collected by said receiver shall also be available for the payment of such costs and expenses of the receivership, as may be adjudged by the court, and for the payment to the municipality of any fines or penalties which may have been imposed on the owner for violations of this chapter and which have not been paid by the person liable therefor. The court may proceed in the action in a summary manner or otherwise. Such receiver shall not be required to give bond and shall be appointed only for the said purposes.
Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to impair or limit in any way the power of the Township of Bloomfield to define and declare nuisances and to cause their removal or abatement, by summary proceeding or otherwise, nor is anything in this chapter intended to limit the authority of the enforcing agency or Construction Code Official under the State Uniform Construction Code Act or any rules or regulation adopted thereunder.
Any person convicted of a violation of any of the provisions hereof by unlawfully removing any notice affixed to any building or by refusing to vacate any building, structure or premises or part thereof when lawfully ordered to vacate same shall, upon conviction, be punishable by a penalty as provided in § 1-15, General penalty, of this Code.