Borough of Emerson, NJ
Bergen County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Emerson as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Certificates of occupancy — See Ch. 128.
Uniform construction codes — See Ch. 132.
Property maintenance — See Ch. 216.
Rental property — See Ch. 224.
Zoning — See Ch. 290.
[Adopted 11-20-2007 by Ord. No. 1336]
As used herein, the following words shall have the following meanings:
ATTIC
The open, nonhabitable space between the ceiling beams of the habitable story and the roof rafters in any building.
BASEMENT
A story partly underground and having more that half of its clear height below the finished grade. A basement shall not be considered a story, etc.
DWELLING INSPECTION
An inspection conducted to determine a unit's compliance with the housing standards of the Borough of Emerson.
FAMILY
One or more persons living together as a single, nonprofit housekeeping unit whose relationship is of a permanent and domestic character, as distinguished from fraternities, sororities, societies, clubs, associations, lodges, combines, halfway houses, shelters, specialized housing and other forms of transient associations. Nothing herein contained shall be deemed to interfere with or restrict the placement of children in a group home pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:55D, or any other use of single-family dwellings protected by state statute.
IMPERMISSIBLE DWELLING UNIT
A dwelling unit:
A. 
For which no certificate of occupancy has been issued;
B. 
Which is in excess of the number of such units for a particular building or zone according to the zoning code; or
C. 
That was created without the required plumbing, electrical or building permits.
KITCHEN
Any space containing plumbing fixtures, in conjunction with other facilities, for the storage and preparation of food.
OWNER
The holder or holders of the title to the premises, etc.
TENANT
Any person residing, with the consent of the owner in an apartment or unit of housing space.
A. 
Any one of the following shall constitute an illegal apartment or dwelling unit.
(1) 
An apartment or dwelling unit which exceeds the legal dwelling/occupancy units that are on Borough Tax Records or on file with the Code Enforcement Official.
(2) 
An apartment or dwelling unit in which the owner has permitted occupancy thereof without obtaining the required plumbing, electrical and building permits.
B. 
It shall be unlawful to cause or permit occupancy of a basement, attic, garage, room or any space as a dwelling unit created by means of an illegal conversion.
C. 
It shall be unlawful for an owner or landlord of a building to permit occupancy of an apartment or other rental unit without an appropriately signed certificate of occupancy.
D. 
No person shall rent, or allow to be occupied, an illegal apartment or dwelling unit, or permit same to be occupied by any tenant or other person, in:
(1) 
A building which such person owns or otherwise controls.
(2) 
A dwelling unit which such person rents or otherwise controls.
A. 
Unapproved occupancies of attics are prohibited.
B. 
Any residential attic used for any purpose other than incidental storage must meet the following criteria:
(1) 
Under no circumstances shall a bathroom be permitted in the attic, whether partial or full, after enactment of this article;
(2) 
There shall be no kitchen or any semblance of same (e.g., hotplate, refrigerator, food cabinets, sink);
(3) 
Except for required fire exits, access to the attic shall be through the dwelling unit;
(4) 
Under no circumstances shall the attic be offered as a separate dwelling unit, rooming unit or independent rooming unit;
(5) 
An attic must be an integral part of the dwelling unit and shall not be leased to any party that does not have full access and rights to the dwelling unit.
Any residential cellar or basement used for living space must meet the following criteria:
A. 
Except for required fire exits, access to the cellar or basement shall be through the dwelling unit.
B. 
A cellar or basement must be an integral part of the dwelling unit and shall not be leased to any party that does not have full access and rights to the dwelling unit.
C. 
A full or partial bathroom shall be permitted, provided the only access to same is through the existing dwelling unit.
A. 
Any person violating the provisions of this article shall be liable to the tenant or occupant of the illegally used premises for the costs of relocation, up to an amount of six times the monthly rental that would have been paid by the displaced person to be paid to the municipality by the owner-landlord for purposes of relocation assistance.
B. 
In addition, the Court may impose a fine equal to the annual tuition costs of any resident of the illegally occupied unit attending a public school, which fine shall be recovered in a civil action by a summary proceeding in the name of the municipality pursuant to Penalty Enforcement Law of 1999 (N.J.S.A. 2A:58-10 et seq.). The Municipal Court and the Superior Court shall have jurisdiction of the proceedings for the enforcement of the penalty provided by this section. The tuition costs shall be determined in the manner prescribed for nonresident pupils pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:38-19, and the payment of the fines shall be remitted to the appropriate school district.
A. 
Any person may file a complaint alleging a violation of this article, and, within 14 days thereafter, the Building Inspector or Code Enforcement Official shall conduct an inspection as provided for herein.
B. 
The Building Inspector or Code Enforcement Official may observe a property or act upon any anonymous calls regarding possible existence of illegal dwellings.
C. 
Every residential rental unit to which this article applies shall be inspected at least annually by the Borough of Emerson's Building Inspector, Code Enforcement Officer, Fire Prevention Inspector or other designated official to insure compliance with building, health, safety and fire codes and ordinances and statutes of the Borough of Emerson and State of New Jersey.
D. 
The Building Inspector or Code Enforcement Officer or other official designees of the Borough of Emerson are hereby authorized to make unannounced inspections to determine the condition of buildings and structures in order that they may perform their duty of safeguarding the health, safety and welfare of the occupants thereof and that of the general public. In order to carry out such inspections, the Building Inspector or Code Enforcement Official or designee is hereby authorized to enter, examine and survey buildings and structures at all reasonable times. The owner, operator, personal representative, agent or occupant of every building or structure sought to be inspected shall give the Building Inspector or Code Enforcement Officer or other designated official free access to the building or structure at all reasonable times for the purpose of making such inspections as may be necessary to insure compliance with the provisions of this article.
A. 
Any person violating any provision of this article shall be subject to a fine of not less than $3,000 for the first offense, unless the violation is addressed and corrected within 30 days of the discovery of same (In such case, the violation can be reduced to a minimal fine of $100 due to the required inspection and reinspection costs.), in addition to possible imprisonment for a term not exceeding 30 days, or both, for each separate violation.
B. 
For the second offense a mandatory fine of $6,000 shall be imposed and, in addition, possible imprisonment for a term not exceeding 60 days, or both, for each separate violation.
C. 
For the third offense a mandatory fine of $10,000 shall be imposed and, in addition, possible imprisonment for a term not exceeding 90 days, or both, for each separate violation.
D. 
The Borough of Emerson hereby determines and declares that, prior to beginning a program of active enforcement designed to eliminate illegal apartments throughout the Borough, the Borough will allow a period of time which will expire on December 31, 2007, for property owners to voluntarily eliminate illegal occupancies. Nothing in this section shall prevent the Borough, or any of its duly authorized officials, from enforcing zoning laws and building code laws prior to December 31, 2007. Rather, the foregoing is an expression of the general policy of the Borough to withhold active and aggressive enforcement prior to that date in order to allow homeowners to voluntarily comply with zoning laws.