[HISTORY: Derived from Art. VII of Ch. XI of the Charter and Ordinances, 1974, of the City of Buffalo. Amendments noted where applicable.]
It shall be the duty of the Commissioner to attach to any building within the City, which shall be reported to him after inspection by one of the inspectors to be unsafe, a notice that the same is dangerous; and no person shall deface or remove any such notice. If any such building shall be used for any purpose requiring a license therefor, the City may, upon neglect on the part of the owner or lessee, after five days' notice from the Commissioner to repair such building, revoke said license, and the Commissioner may cause such building to be repaired and put in safe condition; and the expense therefor shall be assessed upon the premises upon which the building stands.
If any building used as a dwelling is damaged by fire or otherwise so as to cause the vacating of any part thereof that is used as a dwelling for a period of one week or more, the owner or agent shall notify the Department for inspection of the premises for approval by the Department as to compliance with this chapter before reoccupancy. If any dwelling is vacated for any period of time, the dwelling unit, before being reoccupied, shall be in a clean, sanitary condition.
The owners or other party having an interest in any building, staging or other structure or anything attached to or connected with any building or other structure, which shall be unsafe so as to endanger life, shall immediately, upon notice from the Commissioner, cause the same to be made safe and secure or taken down; and where the public safety requires immediate action, the Commissioner may deem an emergency to exist and may enter upon the premises with such assistance as may be necessary and cause the structure to be made secure or taken down without delay and the passerby to be protected at the expense of such owner or party interested.
The Commissioner shall determine the danger established by the existence of the building to the surrounding neighborhood and residents, including the likelihood of fire; the proximity of the building to occupied structures; the opportunity for criminal activity; the general character of the neighborhood, including the number of children living nearby; and the relative location of public facilities such as schools, churches, playgrounds, swimming pools and community centers; and such other factors as shall be reasonable under the circumstances. The Commissioner's decision to raze a building shall be made in writing.
Every building which shall appear to the Commissioner to be dangerous in case of fire, by reason of bad condition of walls, overloaded floors, defective construction or other causes, shall be held to be unsafe; and the Commissioner shall immediately notify the owner to make the same safe and secure or to take the same down. He shall also affix to a conspicuous place on the exterior wall of such building a notice of the dangerous character of the structure, and said building shall not thereafter be used until the same is made safe and secure.
The owner of any building or structure or any part or parts thereof which become or are abandoned, dilapidated, deteriorated, decayed or unattractive from any cause so as to endanger the health, safety or welfare of the public shall repair, demolish or remove the same.
The Commissioner or his designee shall cause an inspection of any premises alleged to be in violation of § 113-5 to be made, and he shall thereafter prepare and file in this office a report of said inspection.
When it shall be determined by the Commissioner that a building or structure or any part or parts thereof are not in compliance or conformity with the provisions of § 113-5 of this chapter, he shall immediately serve notice upon the owner and all other persons having an interest in such property or structure as hereinafter provided.
The aforementioned notice shall contain a description of the premises, a statement of the particulars in which the building or structure is unsafe or dangerous or otherwise is in violation of § 113-5 hereof and an order of the Commissioner requiring the same to be repaired, demolished or removed; and a statement that, if such owner so served shall fail to commence within 30 days from the service of said notice the City of Buffalo shall have the right to repair, demolish or remove such building or structure an that all costs and expenses incurred by the City in connection with the proceedings to repair, demolish or remove such building or structure, including the cost of actually removing or demolishing the same will be assessed against the land on which such building or structure is located, and, in addition to the foregoing, the City of Buffalo will thereafter effect the collection of said costs and expenses arising out of the work performed by it from the party or parties responsible therefor under the provisions § 113-14; a place and time of the hearing shall be as provided in § 113-10 of this chapter.
The aforementioned notice by the Commissioner shall be served in either of the following manners:
Personally upon the owner and all other persons having an interest in such property or structure; or
By registered mail, in a securely fastened, postpaid wrapper, addressed to the owner and to all other persons having an interest in such property or structure, at his last known place of residence as shown by the records of the Board of Assessors, City Treasurer or Clerk of the County of Erie.
The notice aforementioned shall also contain the time and place at which a hearing will be granted before the Commissioner or his designed to the owner and such other persons having an interest in the property or structure described in the notice, at which time and place the owner and such other persons having an interest in the property or structure shall be afforded the opportunity to present testimony and evidence regarding the conditions of the property, with reference to those particulars contained in the aforementioned notice which are alleged by the Commissioner to endanger the health, safety or welfare of the public. The time of said hearing shall be specified on a date no sooner than five days after the service of the notice and no later than the 10th day after service thereof.
If the owner or any person having an interest in the property or structure involved submits evidence at such hearing before the Commissioner, the Commissioner shall thereafter make a further determination which shall:
In the event that the Commissioner shall affirm or modify his original determination, notice thereof shall be served upon those who appeared at the hearing in the manner prescribed by § 113-9 of this chapter within three days after the hearing, and the order to repair, remove or demolish in the original notice shall remain in full force and effect subject only to those specifications modified pursuant to this section.
If the owner or any other person having an interest in the building or structures described in said notice shall thereafter fail to comply with the original notice or with the original notice as modified pursuant to Subsection B of this section, as the case may be, within 30 days from the service of said original notice, the City of Buffalo shall cause said building or structure or any part or parts thereof to be repaired, demolished or removed, as may be determined in the discretion of the Commissioner. All costs and expenses incurred by the City in connection with the proceedings to repair, demolish or remove such building or structure or part or parts thereof, including the cost of actually removing or demolishing the same, shall be assessed against the land on which such building or structure is located.
The Commissioner shall file a copy of the notice provided for under § 113-9 in the office of the County Clerk of the County of Erie within three days after service under § 113-9 is complete. Such notice shall be filed by such Clerk in the same manner as a notice of pendency pursuant to Article 65 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules and shall have the same effect as a notice of pendency as therein provided, except as otherwise provided in this section. A notice so filed shall be effective for a period of one year from the date of filing; provided, however, that it may be vacated upon the order of a Judge or Justice of a court of record or upon the consent of the Corporation Counsel of the City of Buffalo. The Clerk of the County of Erie shall mark such notice and any record or docket thereof as canceled of record upon the presentation and filing of such consent or of a certified copy of such order.
[Amended 12-9-2003, effective 12-19-2003]
The Commissioner shall keep in his office a record of all buildings not in compliance with § 113-5 hereof, with additional information showing the action taken by him, from time to time, relative to each property and, by not later than April 1 of each year, report to the Common Council all premises upon which work has been performed by the City, the name of the owner and the expenses incurred in the repair, demolition or removal that are unpaid, whereupon the Common Council shall order the assessment against said premises for the several sums so reported and the collection of the costs and expenses hereinabove referred to from the party or parties responsible therefor under the provisions of § 113-14.
Any person, firm, partnership or corporation violating § 113-5 hereof shall also be liable for the fine or penalty generally prescribed by this Code.
Any person, firm, partnership or corporation who is the owner, occupant or mortgagee in possession of premises or who shall have exercised dominion and control over said premises at the time they became abandoned, dilapidated, deteriorated, decayed or unattractive shall be personally liable for the cost of demolition, including the incidental charge for the plugging of the water and sewer lines in those instances where it is necessary for the City of Buffalo to cause said work to be done. This section shall be applicable notwithstanding any fine or penalty imposed pursuant to the provisions of this chapter.
Every wooden or frame building with a brick or other front which may hereafter be damaged by fire or otherwise to an amount not greater than 1/2 of its value may be repaired or rebuilt; but if such damage shall amount to more than 1/2 of such value thereof, exclusive of the foundation, then such building shall not be repaired or rebuilt but must be taken down. The amount and extent of such damage by fire or otherwise shall be determined by one surveyor appointed by the Commissioner and one surveyor appointed by the owner or owners of said premises; and in case these two do not agree, they shall appoint a third party, and a decision of a majority of them, reduced to writing and sworn to, shall be conclusive. Such building shall in no manner be repaired or rebuilt until after such decision shall have been rendered; and in case of refusal of the owner to submit to such appraisal, no permit shall be granted.