[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Committee of the Township of Stillwater 4-2-1991 by Ord. No. 91-11 (§ 10-2 of the 1971 Revised General Ordinances). Amendments noted where applicable.]
Whenever a petition is filed with the Building Inspector by a public authority as defined in N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.4 or by at least five residents of the Township charging that any building is unfit for human habitation as defined in the Housing Code, or whenever it appears to the Building Inspector on his own motion that any building is unfit for human habitation, he shall, if his preliminary investigation discloses a basis for such charges, issue and cause to be served upon the owner of and parties in interest in such building a complaint stating the charges in that respect and containing a notice that a hearing shall be held before the Building Inspector or his designated agent at a place therein fixed not less than 10 days nor more than 30 days after the serving of the complaint, that the owner and parties in interest shall be given the right to file an answer to the complaint and to appear in person or otherwise and give testimony at the time and place fixed in the complaints and that the rules of evidence prevailing in courts of law or equity shall not be controlling in hearings before the Building Inspector.
If after notice and hearing, the Building Inspector determines that the building under consideration is unfit for human habitation, as defined in this chapter, 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 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 shall be set forth in the order, or at the option of the owner, to vacate or to have the building vacated and closed within the time set forth in the order.
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 building within the time specified in the order, the owner shall remove or demolish the building within a reasonable time as specified in the order of removal.
If the owner fails to comply with an order to repair, alter or improve or, at the option of the owner, vacate and close the building, the Building Inspector may cause such building to be repaired, altered or improved or to be vacated and closed; the Building Inspector 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 Building Inspector may cause such building to be removed or demolished or may contract for the removal or demolition thereof after advertisement and receipt of bids therefor.
The amount of the following costs shall be a municipal lien against the real property upon which such costs were incurred: 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 Township and the cost of repairs, alterations or improvements or vacating and closing or removal or demolition, if any, or the amounts 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.
If the building is removed or demolished by the Building Inspector, he shall sell any salable materials of such building. There shall be credited against the cost of removal or demolition thereof the proceeds of any sale of such materials or any sum derived from any contract for the removal or demolition of the building. 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 certified mail. If the total of the credits exceeds such costs, the balance remaining shall be deposited in the Superior Court by the Building Inspector, 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 persons found to be entitled thereto by final order or judgment of such Court, provided that nothing in this chapter shall be construed to impair or limit in any way the power of the Township to define 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 of the accuracy of the costs set forth in the municipal lien certificate.
Complaints or orders issued by the Building Inspector pursuant to this chapter shall be served upon persons either personally or by certified mail, but if the whereabouts of such persons are unknown and the same cannot be ascertained by the Building Inspector in the exercise of reasonable diligence and the Building Inspector makes an affidavit to that effect, then the serving of the complaint or order upon such persons may be made by publishing the same once each week for two successive weeks in a newspaper having circulation in 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, and a copy of such complaint or order shall be duly recorded or lodged for record with the Sussex County recording officer.
The Construction Official is authorized and empowered, as may be necessary or convenient, to carry out and effectuate the purposes and provisions of this chapter, to exercise the following powers, in addition to others herein granted:
To investigate the building conditions in the Township in order to determine which buildings therein are unfit for human habitation.
To administer oaths and affirmations, examine witnesses and receive evidence.
To enter upon premises for the purpose of making examination, provided that such entries shall be made in such a manner as to cause the least possible inconvenience to the persons in possession.
To appoint and fix the duties of such officers, agents and employees as he deems necessary to carry out the purpose of this chapter.
To delegate any of his functions and powers under this chapter to such officers and agents as he may designate.
No person shall occupy as owner or occupant or rent to another for occupancy any dwelling or dwelling unit for the purpose of living therein, which dwelling or dwelling unit does not conform to the provisions of Chapter 229, Housing Standards, of the Code of the Township of Stillwater, established by this chapter as the standard to be used in determining whether a dwelling is safe, sanitary and fit for human habitation.
[Amended 10-16-2012 by Ord. No. 2012-7; 2-18-2014 by Ord. No. 2014-2; 10-17-2017 by Ord. No. 2017-12]
At the time of initial occupancy or a change of occupancy of any dwelling unit, the owner of the same shall make application to the Construction Department for a certificate of habitability. The Construction Department shall make an inspection for the sole purpose of determining whether or not the dwelling unit complies with N.J.S.A. 52:27D-133.3 and 52:27D-198.1. Such dwelling unit shall be equipped with at least one carbon monoxide sensor device, or the Construction Official shall determine that there is no potential carbon monoxide hazard in the dwelling unit. In addition, the Construction Official shall require, in accordance with the aforesaid statutes, a smoke-sensitive alarm device on each level of the structure and outside each separate sleeping area. A battery-operated, smoke-sensitive alarm device shall be accepted as meeting the requirements. In addition, each such dwelling unit shall have a portable fire extinguisher as defined in the state statute. The fees for certifications of occupancy/smoke detector (including carbon monoxide detector and fire extinguishers) shall be as follows: