[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Red Bank by Ord. No. 24-82 (Sec. 11-2 of the 1987 Revised General Ordinances). Amendments noted where applicable.]
It is hereby found and declared that the existence or occupation of any building or buildings, or parts thereof, in the Borough, which are so old, dilapidated or have become so out of repair as to be dangerous, unsafe, unsanitary or otherwise unfit for human habitation, or occupancy or use, are inimical to the welfare and dangerous and injurious to the health and safety of the residents of the Borough, and that a public necessity exists for the repair, closing or demolition of such building or buildings, or parts thereof; it is hereby found that there exists in the Borough, building or buildings which are unfit for human habitation or occupancy, or use, due to dilapidation, defects increasing the hazards of fire, accidents or other calamities, lack of ventilation, lack of sanitary facilities or due to other conditions rendering such building or buildings, or parts thereof unsafe, unsanitary, dangerous or detrimental to the health or safety or otherwise inimical to the welfare of the residents of the Borough, and as to which the Borough has the power, pursuant to P.L. 1942, C. 112, as amended by P.L. 1956, C. 197 (N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.3 et seq.) to exercise its police powers to repair, close or demolish, or cause or require the repairing, closing or demolition of such building or buildings, or parts thereof in the manner herein provided.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- Any building, or structure, or part thereof, whether used for human habitation or otherwise, and includes any outhouses and appurtenances belonging thereto or usually enjoyed therewith.
- DWELLING UNIT
- A building or portion thereof providing living facilities for one or more persons.
- The holder or holders of the title in fee simple.
- PARTIES IN INTEREST
- All individuals, associations, and/or corporations who have interests of record in a building and any who are in actual possession thereof.
- PUBLIC AUTHORITY
- Any housing authority or any officer who is in charge of any department or branch of the government of the Borough, relating to health, fire, building regulations, or to other activities concerning buildings in the Borough.
- PUBLIC OFFICER
- The Construction Official of the Borough.
The Public Officer shall exercise the powers prescribed in this chapter. The Borough Council may, by resolution, fix the salary to be paid such Public Officer.
Pursuant to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 40:49-5.1, the Property Maintenance Code, as presently and hereafter adopted and amended, shall be used as a guide in determining whether dwellings in this Borough are safe, sanitary and fit for human habitation and rental. No person shall occupy as owner, occupant, or rent to another for occupancy, any dwelling unit for the purpose of human habitation or occupancy or use which does not conform to the provisions of the Property Maintenance Code.
The Public Officer is hereby authorized and directed to make inspections to determine the conditions of buildings and dwelling units located within the Borough in order that he may perform his duty of safeguarding the health or safety of the occupants of buildings and dwelling units, the occupants of neighboring buildings and dwelling units or the general public. For the purpose of making such inspections, the Public Officer is hereby authorized to enter, examine and survey, at all reasonable times, all buildings and dwelling units. The owner or occupant of every building or dwelling unit, or the person in charge thereof, shall give the Public Officer free access to such building or dwelling unit and its premises at all reasonable times for the purpose of such inspection, examination or survey. Every occupant of a building or dwelling unit shall give the owner thereof, or his agent or employee, access to any part of such building or dwelling unit or its premises at all reasonable times for the purpose of making such repairs or alterations as are necessary to effect compliance with the provisions of this chapter, or with any lawful rule or regulation adopted or any lawful order issued pursuant to the provisions of this chapter.
Whenever a petition is filed with the Public Officer by a Public Authority or by at least five residents of the Borough, charging that any building or dwelling unit is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, or whenever it appears to the Public Officer (on his own motion) that any building or dwelling unit is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, the Public Officer 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 buildings or dwelling unit a complaint stating the charges in that respect and containing a notice that a hearing will be held before the Public Officer at a place therein fixed, not less than seven days nor more than 30 days after the serving of the complaint; 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 place and time fixed in the complaint; the rules of evidence prevailing in the courts shall not be controlling in hearings before the Public Officer. The Public Officer may determine that a building or dwelling unit is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use if he finds that conditions exist in such building or dwelling unit which are dangerous or injurious to the health or safety of the occupants of such building or dwelling unit, the occupants of neighboring buildings or dwelling units or other residents of the Borough; such conditions may include the following (without limiting the generality of the foregoing): defects therein increasing the hazard of fire, accident, or other calamities; lack of adequate ventilation, light, or sanitary facilities; dilapidation; disrepair, structural defects and uncleanliness. The failure of any building or dwelling unit to conform to the provisions of the Property Maintenance Code in effect at the time shall give rise to the presumption that such building or dwelling unit is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use.
If, after notice and hearing, the Public Officer determines that the building or dwelling unit 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 parties in interest an order:
Requiring the repair, alteration or improvement of the building or dwelling unit 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 the building or dwelling unit vacated and closed within the time set forth in the order; and
If the building or dwelling unit 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 or dwelling unit within the time specified in the order, then the owner shall be required to remove or demolish the building or dwelling unit 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, to vacate and close the building or dwelling unit, the Public Officer may cause such building or dwelling unit to be repaired, altered or improved or to be vacated and closed; the Public Officer may cause to be posted on the main entrance of any building or dwelling unit so closed, a placard with the following words: "This building (dwelling unit) is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use; the use or occupation of this building (or dwelling unit) is prohibited and unlawful." The Public Officer shall not incur expenses in the repair, alteration or improvement of a building or dwelling unit except with the approval by resolution of the Borough Council.
If the owner fails to comply with an order to remove or demolish the building or dwelling unit, the Public Officer may cause such building or dwelling unit to be removed or demolished or may contract for the removal or demolition thereof after advertisement for, and receipt of, bids therefor, subject to approval by resolution of the Borough Council.
The amount of the costs 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 Borough; and such costs of such repairs, alterations or improvements, or vacating and closing, or removal or demolition, if any, or the amount of the balance thereof remaining after deduction of the sum, if any, realized from the sale of materials derived from such building or dwelling unit or from any contract for removal or demolition thereof, shall be a municipal lien against the real property upon which such cost was incurred.
If the building or dwelling unit is removed or demolished by the Public Officer, he shall sell the materials of such building or dwelling unit. There shall be credited against the cost of the removal or demolition thereof, including the clearance and, if necessary, leveling of the site, the proceeds of any sale of such materials or any sum derived from any contract for the removal or demolition of the building or dwelling unit. 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 Borough Tax Assessor or other custodian of the records of tax liens, and a copy thereof shall be sent forthwith to the owner by registered mail. If the total of the credits exceeds such costs, the balance remaining shall be deposited in the Superior Court by the Public Officer, shall be secured in such manner as may be directed by such Court, and shall be disbursed according to the Order of Judgment by the Court to the persons found to be entitled thereto by final order or judgment of such Court. Any owner or party in interest may, within 30 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 or the accuracy of the costs set forth in the municipal lien certificate.
If an actual and immediate danger to life is posed by the threatened collapse of any fire damaged, or other structurally unsafe building or dwelling unit, the Public Officer may, after taking such measures as may be necessary to make such building or dwelling unit temporarily safe, seek a judgment in summary proceedings for the demolition thereof.
Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to impair or limit in any way the power of the Borough to define and declare nuisances and to cause their removal and abatement, by summary proceedings or otherwise, nor is anything in this act intended to limit the authority of the Enforcing Agency or Construction Official under the State Uniform Construction Code Act, P.L. 1975, c. 217 (N.J.S.A. 52:27D-119 et seq.) or any rules or regulations adopted thereunder.
Complaints or orders issued by the Public Officer pursuant to this chapter shall be served upon persons either personally or by registered mail, but if the whereabouts of such persons is unknown and the same cannot be ascertained by the Public Officer in the exercise of reasonable diligence, and the Public Officer 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 Borough, or, in the absence of such newspaper, in one printed and published in Monmouth County and circulating in the Borough. A copy of such complaint or order shall be posted in a conspicuous place on premises affected by the complaint or order. A copy of such complaint or order shall be duly recorded or lodged for record with the Monmouth County Clerk.
Any person aggrieved by an order issued by the Public Officer under this chapter may, within 30 days after the posting and service of such order, bring an action for injunctive relief to restrain the Public Officer from carrying out the provisions of the order, and for any other appropriate relief as provided in N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.8. Such remedy shall be exclusive and no person affected by any order of the Public Officer shall be entitled to recover any damages for action taken pursuant thereto, or because of noncompliance by any person with any order of the Public Officer.
The Public Officer is hereby authorized and empowered to make and adopt such written rules and regulations as he may deem necessary for the proper enforcement of the provisions of this chapter; provided, however, that such rules and regulations shall not be in conflict with the provisions of this chapter, nor in any way alter, amend or supersede any of the provisions hereof. The Public Officer shall file a certified copy of all rules and regulations which he may adopt in his office and in the office of the Borough Clerk. The Public Officer is authorized to administer oaths, affirmations, and to examine witnesses and receive evidence in any hearing conducted pursuant to the terms of this chapter.