Town of Adams, MA
Berkshire County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Annual Town Meeting of the Town of Adams as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Building construction — See Ch. 22.
Contaminated properties — See Ch. 32.
Streets and sidewalks — See Ch. 105.
Zoning — See Ch. 125.
[Adopted 6-16-2008 by Art. 29]
A. 
Purpose. It is the intent of this article to protect and preserve public safety, security, and quiet enjoyment of occupants, abutters, and neighborhoods by:
(1) 
Requiring all residential property owners, including lenders, trustees and service companies, to properly maintain abandoned and/or foreclosing properties.
(2) 
Regulating the maintenance of abandoned and/or foreclosing residential properties to prevent blighted and unsecured buildings.
B. 
The Building Commissioner of the Town of Adams has enforcement authority pursuant to inter alia MGL c. 143, § 3, the State Building Code, and the Town Zoning.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 125, Zoning.
When used in this article, unless a contrary intention clearly appears, the following terms shall have the following meanings:
ABANDONED
Any property that is vacant.
COMMISSIONER
The Building Commissioner of the Town of Adams.
DAYS
Consecutive calendar days.
"EVIDENCE OF VACANCY"
Any condition that would lead a reasonable person to believe that the property is vacant.
FORECLOSING
The process by which a property, placed as security for a real estate loan is prepared for sale to satisfy the debt if the borrower defaults.
"INITIATION OF THE FORECLOSURE PROCESS"
Taking any of the following actions:
A. 
Taking possession of a residential property pursuant to MGL c. 244, § 1;
B. 
Publishing the first foreclosure notice of a residential property pursuant to MGL c. 244, § 14; or
C. 
Commencing a foreclosure action on a residential property in either the Land Court or Superior Court.
LOCAL
Within 20 driving miles distance of the property in question.
MORTGAGEE
The creditor, including, but not limited to, service companies and lenders in a mortgage agreement.
MORTGAGEE IN POSSESSION
A mortgagee that has taken over control and/or occupancy of a property upon default of the borrower to collect income from the property and/or prepare for foreclosure.
A. 
Means:
(1) 
Every person, entity, service company, property manager or realtor, who alone or severally with others:
(a) 
Has legal or equitable title to any dwelling, dwelling unit, mobile dwelling unit, building or parcel of land, vacant or otherwise, including a mobile home park; or
(b) 
Has care, charge or control of any dwelling, dwelling unit, mobile dwelling unit, building or parcel of land, vacant or otherwise, including a mobile home park, in any capacity, including but not limited to agent, executor, executrix, administrator, administratrix, trustee or guardian of the estate of the holder of legal title; or
(c) 
Is a mortgagee in possession of any such property; or
(d) 
Is an agent, trustee, or other person appointed by the courts and vested with possession or control of any such property; or
(e) 
Is an officer or trustee of the association of unit owners of a condominium.
(2) 
Each such person is bound to comply with the provisions of these minimum standards as if he were the owner.
B. 
"Owner" also means every person who operates a rooming house; or is a trustee who holds, owns, or controls mortgage loans for mortgage-backed securities transactions and has initiated the foreclosure process.
PROPERTY
Any real property, or portion thereof, located in the Town of Adams, including but not limited to buildings or structures occupied for living purposes.
RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY
Any property that contains one or more dwelling units used, intended, or designed to be occupied for living purposes.
SECURING
Measures that assist in making the property inaccessible to unauthorized persons.
TOWN
Town of Adams.
VACANT
A structure or building not legally occupied.
A. 
All owners must register abandoned and/or foreclosing residential properties with the Commissioner on forms provided by the Commissioner. All registrations must state the individual owner's or agent's phone number and mailing address located within the commonwealth as required by MGL c. 59, § 57D, MGL c. 156D, § 5.05, and 950 CMR 113.230. The mailing address may not be a post office box. This registration must also certify that the property was inspected and identify whether the property is abandoned. If the property is abandoned, the registration must designate a local individual or local property management company responsible for the securing and maintenance of the property. This designation must state the individual or company's name, phone number, and local mailing address. The mailing address may not be a post office box. This registration must be received within seven days of abandonment or within seven days of the initiation of the foreclosure process as defined in Subsection B.
B. 
All property registrations are valid for one year. An annual registration fee of $100 must accompany the registration form. The fee and registration are valid for one calendar year, or remaining portion of the calendar year, in which the registration was initially required. Subsequent registrations and fees are due January 1 of each year and must certify whether the foreclosing and/or foreclosed property remains abandoned or not.
C. 
Once the property is no longer abandoned, or is sold, the owner must provide proof of sale or written notice of occupancy to the Commissioner.
A. 
Maintenance requirements. Properties subject to this article must be maintained in accordance with all the applicable sanitary codes, building codes, and local regulations. The local owner or local property management company must inspect and maintain the property on a monthly basis for the duration of the abandonment.
B. 
Vacant property must be boarded and secured in the following manner:
(1) 
Securing of means of ingress and egress required. All buildings or structures, regardless of use or height, shall be maintained by the owner so as to prevent ingress or egress into the building. All doors, windows and other means of ingress or egress into such a building or structure shall be kept locked and secured.
(2) 
Repair or boarding up of broken doors and windows. Where any door, window or other means of ingress or egress from a vacant building or structure has become broken or open, the Building Inspector may order the building or structure repaired so as to comply with this article or boarded up as provided herein.
(3) 
Boarding-up method. The method used in boarding up any building or structure, regardless of use or height, shall be as follows:
(a) 
All broken glass shall be removed from the doors or windows of said building or structure.
(b) 
All openings shall be entirely boarded up with either plywood or pressboard having a minimum thickness of 3/8 inch.
(c) 
All plywood or pressboard used in boarding up shall be painted with a blue gray exterior paint. The color and quality of the paint is subject to the approval of the Commissioner.
(d) 
All openings which are not within 10 feet of ground level at their lowest point and which are not readily accessible from ground level or from neighboring buildings or structures shall have a one-square-foot opening on the top of the enclosure which shall be covered by a one-fourth-inch wire mesh screen. Louvers may be used in place of the wire mesh screen, provided that they do not inhibit the ventilation.
C. 
The property must contain a posting with the name and twenty-four-hour contact phone number of the local individual or property management company responsible for the maintenance.
D. 
Adherence to this article does not relieve the property owner of any applicable obligations set forth in code regulations, covenant conditions and restrictions and/or homeowners' association rules and regulations.
The Commissioner or his designee shall have the authority and the duty to inspect properties subject to this article for compliance and to issue citations for any violations. The Commissioner shall have the discretion to determine when and how such inspections are to be made, provided that their policies are reasonably calculated to ensure that this article is enforced.
A. 
Failure to initially register with the Commissioner is punishable by a fine of $300.
B. 
If applicable, failure to properly identify the name of the local individual or property management company is punishable by a fine of $300, for each violation, and to a like fine for each day's continuance of such violation.
C. 
Failure to maintain the property is punishable by a fine of $300 for each month the property is not maintained.
Any person aggrieved by the requirements of this article, or by a decision issued under this article by the Commissioner, may seek relief in any court of competent jurisdiction as provided by the laws of the commonwealth.
If any provision of this article imposes greater restrictions or obligations that those imposed by any other general law, special law, regulation, rule, ordinance, bylaw, order, or policy, then the provisions of this article control.
If any provision of this article is held to be invalid by a court of competent jurisdiction, then such provision shall be considered separately and apart from the remaining provisions, which shall remain in full force and effect.