[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Council of the Township of Eastampton 4-25-1966 by Ord. No. 1966-2 (Ch. 38 of the 1974 Township Code); amended in its entirety at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. I). Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
It is declared, determined and recited, and it has, by the adoption of a formal resolution, heretofore been found, that there exists in this municipality buildings which are unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use due to dilapidation, defects increasing the hazards of fire, accidents or other calamities, lack of ventilation, light or sanitation facilities or due to other conditions rendering such building or buildings, or part thereof, unsafe or unsanitary or dangerous or detrimental to the health or safety or otherwise inimical to the welfare of the residents of the municipality, and, therefore, by virtue of the authority conferred by N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.3 et seq., this chapter is made.
The following terms, whenever used in this chapter, shall have the following respective meanings for the purposes of this chapter:
- 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.
- GOVERNING BODY
- The Township Council of the Township of Eastampton.
- The holders or owner of the title in fee simple.
- PARTIES IN INTEREST
- All individuals, associations and corporations who have interests of record in a building and any who are in actual possession thereof.
- PUBLIC AUTHORITY
- Any housing authority or official who is in charge of any department or branch of the government of the Township, county or state relating to health, fire, building regulations or to other activities concerning buildings in the Township.
For the enforcement of provisions of this chapter, the Township Construction Official shall exercise all powers of the public officer conferred upon him by N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.3 et seq.
Whenever it appears that there exists in the Township any building which is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use due to dilapidation, disrepair, structural defect increasing the hazards of fire, accidents or other calamities, lack of adequate ventilation, light or sanitary facilities, or due to other conditions rendering such building unsafe or unsanitary and dangerous or detrimental to the health or safety or otherwise inimical to the welfare of the residents, upon the filing of a petition by a public authority, or by at least five residents of the Township, charging that any building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, or if it shall appear to the public officer on his own motion that any building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, the Construction Official shall make a preliminary investigation or cause such preliminary investigation to be made concerning the basis for such charges.
Buildings shall be considered unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use within the meaning of § 179-4 when one or more of the following conditions are found to exist:
Condition of structure. The condition of the structure is such as to make it unsafe or unsanitary through the presence of serious safety hazards resulting from the need for major repairs to the roof, walls, ceilings, floors or stairs or through the presence of serious health hazards resulting from continuous dampness or exposure brought about by neglect or dilapidation.
Water supply: lack of potable running water within each dwelling or lack of hot-water facilities available to each dwelling.
Sewerage system: no connection between plumbing fixtures and adequate sewage disposal system.
Toilet facilities: no flush toilet fit for use in each building.
Bath facilities: no bathtub or shower fit for use in each dwelling.
Kitchen facilities: lack of permanent, safe and reasonably efficient kitchen facilities within each dwelling unit, including sink with running water and provisions for a cooking stove.
Lighting facilities: building inadequately wired for electricity.
Heating facilities: heating facilities inadequate or unsafe.
Light and ventilation: living room, bedroom or kitchen with no windows or with windows opening on an air shaft, or toilet or bathroom without adequate ventilation.
If a preliminary investigation shall disclose to the Construction Official a basis for the charges filed, he shall 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. The complaint shall also contain a notice that a hearing will be held before him at a place therein fixed not less than seven days nor more than 30 days after the serving of said complaint.
The owner and parties in interest shall have the right to file an answer to the complaint and to appear in person, by counsel, or otherwise and give testimony at the time and place fixed in the complaint.
The rules of evidence prevailing in the courts shall not be controlling in hearings before the Construction Official.
The Construction Official may determine that a building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use if he finds that conditions exist in such building which are dangerous or injurious to the health or safety of the occupants of such building, the occupants of neighboring buildings or other residents of the Township. Such conditions may include, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, defects increasing the hazards of fire, accidents or other calamities; lack of adequate ventilation, light or sanitary facilities; dilapidation; disrepair; structural defects; uncleanliness; and the conditions set forth in §§ 179-4 and 179-5.
When, after such notice and hearing, the Construction Official determines that the building 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 the parties in interest an order as follows:
The order shall require the owner to make repairs, alterations or improvements of the building within a reasonable time, which shall in no event exceed 90 days from the order, which time shall be set forth in the order, or, at the option of the owner, to vacate or have said 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 said building within the time specified in the order, then the owner shall be required to remove or demolish said building within a reasonable time, to be specified in the order.
Placarding. 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, the Construction Official may cause such building to be repaired, altered or improved or to be vacated and closed. The Construction Official shall 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."
Removal by Township. If the owner fails to comply with an order to remove or demolish the building, the Construction Official may cause such building to be removed or demolished or may contract for the removal or demolition thereof after advertisement for and after receipt of bids therefor.
The amount of the cost of filing of legal papers, expert witness fees, search fees and advertising charges, incurred in the course of any proceeding taken under this chapter determined in favor of the Township, and such repairs, alterations or improvements or vacating and closing or removal or demolition, when done by the Construction Official, shall be a municipal lien against the real property upon which such cost was incurred.
If the building is removed or demolished by the Construction Official, he shall sell the materials of such building and shall credit the proceeds of such sale as against the cost of the removal or demolition thereof, including the clearance and, if necessary, leveling of the site. If the total of the credits exceeds such costs, the balance remaining shall be deposited in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, by the Construction Official, shall be secured in such manner as may be directed by such Court, and shall be disbursed by such Court to the persons found to be entitled thereto by final order or decree of such Court.
Complaints or orders issued by the Construction Official pursuant to this chapter shall be served upon persons either personally or by registered mail. If the whereabouts of such persons is unknown and the same cannot be ascertained by such Official in the exercise of reasonable diligence, and such Official shall make an affidavit to that effect, then the serving of such complaint, notice or order upon such persons may be made by publishing the same once in a newspaper printed and published 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. A copy of such complaint or order shall be duly recorded or lodged for record with the County Clerk of Burlington County.
In addition to the powers herein granted to the Construction Official, he shall also have the following powers to:
Investigate the building conditions in the Township in order to determine which buildings therein are unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use.
Administer oaths and affirmations, examine witnesses and receive evidence.
Enter upon premises for the purpose of making examinations, provided that such entries shall be made in such manner as to cause the least possible inconvenience to the persons in possession.
Any person aggrieved by an order issued by the Construction Official may bring a court action pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.8.
If an actual and immediate danger to life is posed by the threatened collapse of any fire-damaged or other structurally unsafe building, the Construction Official may, after taking such measures as may be necessary to make such building temporarily safe, seek a judgment in summary proceedings for the demolition thereof.
The remedies herein provided shall be exclusive remedies, and no person affected by an order of the Construction Official shall be entitled to recover any damages for action taken pursuant to any order of the Construction Official or because of noncompliance by such person with any order of the Construction Official.
Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to abrogate or impair the powers of the courts or of any department to enforce any provision of its charter or its ordinances or regulations, nor to prohibit or punish violations thereof, and the powers conferred by this chapter shall be in addition and supplemental to the powers conferred by any other law or ordinance.
Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to impair or limit in any way the power of the Township to define and declare nuisances and to cause their removal or 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.