[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Committee of the Township of Morris 8-17-2005 by Ord. No. 24-05 (Ch. 60A of the 1969 Code). Amendments noted where applicable.]
Zoning — See Ch. 95.
Unfit buildings — See Ch. 202.
Uniform construction codes — See Ch. 216.
Fires and fire prevention — See Ch. 268.
Property maintenance — See Ch. 385.
Sewers and sewage disposal — See Ch. 410.
Health nuisances — See Ch. 554.
Housing Code — See Ch. 558.
Sewage disposal systems — See Ch. 615.
The purpose of this chapter is to protect the public health, safety, morals, and welfare by establishing minimum standards governing the maintenance, appearance, condition, and occupancy of residential and nonresidential premises; to establish minimum standards governing utilities, facilities, and other physical components and conditions essential to make the aforesaid facilities fit for human habitation, occupancy, and use; to fix certain responsibilities and duties upon owners and operators, and distinct and separate responsibilities and duties upon occupants; to authorize and establish procedures for the inspection of residential and nonresidential premises; to fix penalties for the violations of this chapter; and to provide for the repair, demolition or vacation of premises hereby declared to be remedial and essential for the public interest, and it is intended that this chapter be liberally construed to effectuate the purposes as stated herein.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- That portion of the building that is partly underground and which has more than 1/2 of its height, measured from clear floor to ceiling, above the average adjoining ground level. When natural contour of the ground level immediately adjacent to the building is interrupted by ditching, pits or trenching, then the average adjoining ground level should be the nearest natural contour line parallel to the walls of the building without regard to the levels created by the ditching, pits or trenching.
- Lowermost portion of the building that is partly or totally underground and which has 1/2 or more of its height, measured from clear floor to ceiling, below the average adjoining ground level. When the natural contour of the ground level immediately adjacent to the building is interrupted by ditching, pits, or trenching, then the average adjoining ground level shall be the nearest natural contour line parallel to the walls of the building without regard to the levels created by the ditching, pits, or trenching.
- DWELLING UNIT
- Any room or group of rooms located within a dwelling forming a single habitable unit which includes facilities for living, sleeping, cooking, eating, bathing and sanitary purposes.
- ENFORCEMENT PERSONNEL/INSPECTOR
- The following employees of the Township of Morris are authorized to enforce the provisions of this chapter:
- FIRE HAZARD
- Anything or any act which increases or may cause an increase in the hazard or menace of fire to a greater degree than that customarily recognized as normal by persons in the public service of preventing, suppressing, or extinguishing fire or which may obstruct, delay or hinder or may become the cause of an obstruction, delay, hazard, or hindrance to the prevention, suppression, or extinguishment of fire.
- IMMEDIATE FAMILY
- The head of the family, spouse, the parents, and children (including legally adopted children) of either the head of the family or spouse. There shall be a rebuttable presumption that three or more persons occupying any dwelling unit or rooming unit are not related to one another, and the burden of establishing immediate family relationship shall be on the person or persons asserting it.
- NET FLOOR AREA
- The net floor area within the dwelling unit or rooming unit, as the case may be, shall be computed by deducting from the gross floor area the following:
- A. Built-in equipment, wardrobes and closets, bathrooms, water closet compartments, laundries, serving and storage pantries, cellars, heating rooms, boiler rooms, utility rooms, kitchens, kitchenettes, and areas utilized for cooking purposes.
- B. Other rooms or spaces that are not used frequently and regularly for living purposes.
- C. Such parts thereof as are used exclusively as hallways or corridors, entrance foyers and vestibules, or, when part of the larger area, so much thereof as is required to provide a means of passage three feet in width through the room or foyer immediately adjoining from any point of ingress from the exterior of the dwelling unit to any exit from such room or foyer.
- D. Such part of any room where the floor-to-ceiling height is less than seven feet six inches.
- A. Any public nuisance known in common law or in equity jurisprudence or as provided by the statutes of the State of New Jersey or the ordinances of the Township of Morris.
- B. Any attractive nuisance which may prove detrimental to the health or safety of children, whether in a building, on the premises of a building or upon an unoccupied lot. This includes but is not limited to abandoned wells, shafts, basements, excavations, abandoned iceboxes, refrigerators, motor vehicles, any structurally unsound fences or structures, lumber, trash, fences, debris or vegetation such as poison ivy, oak, or sumac, which may prove a hazard for inquisitive minors.
- C. Physical conditions dangerous to human life or detrimental to the health of persons on or near the premises where the conditions exist.
- D. Overcrowding of a room with occupants in violation of this chapter.
- E. Insufficient ventilation or illumination in violation of this chapter.
- F. Inadequate or unsanitary sewage or plumbing facilities in violation of this chapter.
- G. Unsanitary conditions or anything offensive to the senses or dangerous to health in violation of this chapter.
- H. Whatever renders air, food or drink unwholesome and is detrimental to the health of human beings.
- I. Fire hazards.
- Any person living, sleeping or having actual possession of a dwelling unit or rooming unit.
- Any person who has charge, care and control of a dwelling or premises or a part thereof, whether with or without the consent and knowledge of the owner.
- Any person who, alone or jointly or severally with others, shall have legal or equitable title to a premises, with or without accompanying actual possession thereof, or shall have charge, care or control of any dwelling or dwelling unit as owner or agent of the owner, or fiduciary responsibility, including but not limited to executor, executrix, administrator, administratrix, trustee, receiver, or guardian of the estate, or as a mortgagee in possession, regardless of how such possession was obtained. Any person who is a lessee subletting or reassigning any part or all of a dwelling or dwelling unit shall be deemed to be a co-owner with the lessor and shall have joint responsibility over the portion of the premises sublet or assigned by said lessee.
The provisions of this chapter shall apply to every residential building situated in the Township of Morris used or intended to be used for occupancy purposes, whether or not such building shall have been constructed, altered, or repaired before or after the enactment of this chapter, and their respective building permits or licenses which may have been issued for the use and occupancy of the building previously.
Floor space. Every dwelling unit shall contain at least 150 square feet of floor space for the first occupant thereof and at least 100 additional square feet of floor space for every additional occupant thereof, the floor space to be calculated on the base of total habitable room area.
Required space in sleeping rooms. Every room occupied for sleeping purposes by one occupant shall contain at least 70 square feet of floor space, and every room occupied for sleeping purposes by more than one occupant shall contain at least 50 square feet of floor space for each occupant thereof.
Requirements for common areas. Effective upon passage of this chapter, no cellar, kitchen, foyer, vestibule, or living area used in common by residents of a dwelling unit or rooming unit shall be used for sleeping purposes.
Basements may be used for human habitation, provided that:
There is sufficient light and ventilation, and provided that the basement is a minimum of 50% above grade as described in § 354-2.
All furnaces or other heating facilities are so located, insulated, and separate from living areas by fireproof partitions or walls necessary pursuant to the Fire Prevention Code adopted by the municipality, the regulations of this chapter, and all other applicable codes, so that the same do not constitute an undue hazard to the safety and health of the occupants.
The dwelling units and all walls and floors thereof are free of visible moisture and seepage at all times.
At least 1/2 of the floor area of every habitable room shall have a ceiling height of at least seven feet. The floor area of that part of any room where the ceiling is less than five feet shall not be considered as part of the floor area in computing the total floor area in the room for the purpose of determining the maximum permissible occupancy thereof.
Cooking facilities. No cooking or food preparation shall be conducted in any room except the kitchen.
Occupancy of single-family dwelling. A single-family dwelling shall be occupied by persons composing an immediate family and no more than two other persons.
Occupancy of dwelling unit. A dwelling unit other than that constituting a single-family dwelling shall be occupied by persons composing an immediate family and not more than two other persons.
Occupancy standards to be cumulative. Nothing contained herein shall be construed as permitting occupancy in violation of any other occupancy standard, all occupancy standards being cumulative, and not in the alternative.
Rebuttable presumption. There shall be a rebuttable presumption that any occupancy in excess of an immediate family and not more than two other persons shall be a violation of this chapter. The owner or operator of the premises may produce proof satisfactory to the court that all persons occupying the premises are doing so as a single housekeeping unit.
All buildings and premises subject to this chapter are subject to inspection from time to time by an enforcing officer of the Township. At the time of such inspection, all rooms in the building and all parts of the premises must be available and accessible for such inspections, and the owner, operator, and occupant are required to provide the necessary arrangements to facilitate such inspections. Such inspections shall be made between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., unless one of the following conditions exists:
The premises are not available during the foregoing hours for inspections.
There is reason to believe that violations are occurring on the premises which can only be determined and proved by inspections during other than the prescribed hours or which require immediate inspection after being reported.
There is reason to believe a violation exists of a nature which is an immediate threat to health or safety, requiring inspection and abatement without delay.
Enforcement personnel shall be supplied with official identification issued by the Township of Morris and, upon request, shall exhibit such identification when entering any dwelling unit, rooming unit, or any part of any premises subject to this chapter. Inspectors shall conduct themselves so as to avoid intentional embarrassment or inconvenience to occupants.
Penalties. Where an enforcement officer or his/her agent is refused entry or access or is otherwise impeded or prevented by the owner, occupant, or operator from conducting an inspection of the premises, such person shall be in violation of this chapter and subject to the penalties hereunder.
The enforcement officer may, upon affidavit, apply to the Judge of the Municipal Court of the Township of Morris for a search warrant, setting forth factually the actual conditions and circumstances that provide a reasonable basis for believing that a nuisance or violation of the code may exist on the premises, including one or more of the following:
The premises require inspection accordingly to the cycle established by the Township for periodic inspections of premises of the type involved.
Observation of the external condition of the premises and its public areas has resulted in the belief that violations of code exist.
Circumstances such as age of building, type of building, particular use of premises, or other factors rendering systematic inspections of such buildings necessary in the interest of public health and safety.
If the Judge of the Municipal Court of the Township of Morris is satisfied as to the matter set forth in said affidavit, he/she shall authorize the issuance of a search warrant permitting access to and inspection of that part of the premises on which the nuisance or violation may exist.
Any such search warrants shall be executed during daylight hours and shall require that the inspection be accompanied by a uniformed police officer. There shall not be any no-knock search warrant.
Except as provided in Subsection J, where a violation of this chapter or the regulations hereunder is found to exist, a written notice from the enforcement officer shall be served on the person or persons responsible for the correction thereof.
Contents of notice. The notice shall specify the violation or violations committed; what must be done to correct same; a reasonable period of time, not to exceed 30 days, within which to correct or abate the violation; the right of the person served to request a hearing; and that the notice shall become an order of the enforcement officer in 10 days after service unless a hearing is requested pursuant to Subsection C.
Service of notice. Notice may be served personally or by prepaid telegram or by certified mail, return receipt requested, with postage prepaid, addressed to the last known address of the person to be served. In the case of an occupant, notice may be posted upon the door of his dwelling unit or rooming unit. Where it is ascertained that the owner does not reside on the premises, the last known address shall be the address of the owner as shown in the office of the Tax Assessor. If the last known address cannot be ascertained, the notice may be posted on the outside front entrance of the building. The enforcement officer shall file and provide notice to any owner, operator, or occupant of any violation at any address other than the last known address provided hereunder if such other address is made known to the Township. Service upon an owner, operator, or occupant may also be attained by service of any notice upon a resident member of the family of the owner, operator, or occupant. Date of service of the notice shall be determined, where service is by mail, as of the fourth day following the day of mailing for notices to addresses within the Township, and as of the fourth day after the day of mailing for notices to addresses outside the Township. Where the day of service would fall upon a Sunday or other day when mail is not ordinarily delivered, then the day of service shall be the next regular delivery day.
Notice to become an order unless hearing requested. Within 10 days of the date of service of a notice, the notice shall constitute a final order unless any person affected by the notice requests a hearing thereon and serves a written request within the ten-day period in person or by mail on the enforcement officer who issued the notice of violation. Such request for a hearing shall set forth briefly the grounds or reasons on which the request for a hearing is based and the factual matters contained in the notice of violation which are to be disputed at the hearing. The enforcement officer, upon receipt of the request, shall, within 30 days therefrom and upon five days' notice to the party aggrieved, set the matter down for hearing. Any person exercising his right of a hearing pursuant to this provision who, without just cause, fails to appear or fails to have his representative appear on the date the matter is set down for hearing shall forfeit his right of a hearing, and the notice shall become an order to correct the violations within the time specified.
Determination at hearing. At any hearing provided hereunder, the enforcement officer shall be vested with all the powers provided by law to compel the attendance of witnesses and parties in interest by issuance and service of a subpoena, to require by subpoena the production of books, records, or other documents at any such hearings which may be pertinent to the matter to be determined by him/her, and to enforce any such subpoena as provided by law. Determination shall be made within 10 days from the completion of the hearing. The enforcement officer shall issue an order either incorporating the determinations and directions contained in the notice, modifying the same or withdrawing the notice.
Extensions of time. The enforcement officer may extend the time for correction or abatement of the violation for an additional period of time not to exceed 30 days.
Summary abatement in emergency; notice and hearing not required. Where the violation or condition existing on the premises is of such a nature as to constitute an immediate threat to life or limb unless abated without delay, the enforcement officer may either abate the condition immediately or order the owner, operator, or occupant to correct the violation or condition within a period of time not to exceed three days, and upon failure to do so, the enforcement officer shall abate the condition immediately thereafter.
Cost of abatement to be a lien against premises. Where abatement of any nuisance as defined herein, correction of a defect in the premises, demolition or the maintenance of the premises in a proper condition so as to conform to municipal ordinances or state law applicable thereto requires expending Township moneys therefor, the appropriate Township official shall present a report of work proposed to be done to accomplish the foregoing to the Township Administrator with an estimate of the cost thereof along with a summary of the proceedings undertaken by the enforcement officer to secure compliance, including notices served upon the owners, operators, lessor or agents, as the case may be, hearings and orders of the enforcement officer with reference thereto, and costs of emergency abatement of conditions constituting an immediate threat to life and limb. The Township Administrator shall recommend to the Township Committee who may thereupon by resolution authorize the abatement of the nuisance, correction of the defect or work necessary to place the premises in proper condition and in compliance with ordinances of the Township and laws of the state. The appropriate Township official may thereafter proceed to have the work performed in accordance with the resolution at the Township's expense, not to exceed the amount specified in the resolution, and shall, upon completion thereof, submit a report of the moneys expended and costs to the Township Administrator and the Township Committee. After review of the same, the Committee may approve the expenses and costs, whereupon the same shall become a lien against said premises, collectible as provided by law. A copy of the resolution approving the expenses and costs shall be filed with the Tax Collector of the Township, who shall be responsible for the collection thereof, and a copy of this report and resolution shall be sent by certified mail to the owner.
Referral of violations. Any violation of any ordinance other than this chapter discovered by an inspector shall be reported to the official or agency responsible for the enforcement of such other ordinance.
Extension of time where dispossession action undertaken. Where there exists a violation of occupancy standards hereunder, an owner or operator, upon receipt of a notice of violation, if unable to eliminate the violation by peaceable means within the period of time specified in said notice, shall commence within such period legal action to dispossess, evict, or eject the occupant who causes the violation. No further action hereunder shall then be taken against the owner or operator so long as the action aforesaid is pending in the court and is prosecuted expeditiously and in good faith.
Where notice and hearing not required prior to court proceedings. Notwithstanding the requirements of this section, violations of this chapter may be prosecuted in the Municipal Court by the filing of a complaint by the enforcement officer.
Effect of notice on owner. For the purposes of enforcement of this chapter, the service of a notice on an owner, whether or not the owner is also the operator, shall constitute notice of violations set forth therein until said violations are abated in conformity with this chapter and the other applicable ordinances of the Township of Morris.
Where premises are ordered vacated by the Township, all doors to the exterior shall be locked and first-story or basement and cellar windows barred or boarded to prevent entry. The owner shall be responsible for the foregoing, as well as the costs thereof. Where an order is issued pursuant to this section, it shall be served on all persons affected thereby. When the conditions or the violations complained of are corrected, the owner or occupant affected thereby may request a reinspection, which shall be provided upon the payment of a reinspection fee of $75. Based on the reinspection, the enforcement officer shall issue a further order, which shall either revoke the previous order and permit occupancy or state such further conditions or time limits during which additional repairs or improvements are to be made before occupancy is again permitted, or order vacation and demolition. Upon compliance with the conditions contained in any order, the enforcement officer shall permit the signs to be removed and the premises made available again for occupancy.
A violation of any section or subsection of this chapter shall, upon conviction thereof, be punishable by a fine not to exceed $500 or by imprisonment for a term not exceeding 90 days, or both, for each violation committed hereunder.
Each violation of a section or subsection of this chapter shall constitute a separate and distinct violation independent of any other section or subsection or any order issued pursuant to this chapter. Each day of noncompliance with any such section or subsection shall constitute a separate violation.
Where the defendant is other than a natural person or persons, the provisions of Subsection B shall also apply to any agent, superintendent, officer, member or partner who shall, alone or with others, have charge, care or control of the premises.
In the event of the imposition of a fine or penalty by the Municipal Court or any other court of competent jurisdiction against the owner, operator, or lessor of any building or structure in the Township required to be registered pursuant to law for violation of any Township ordinance or any state law applicable to the Township, said fine or penalty shall be collectible as a lien against the premises and, in addition thereto, shall be collectible pursuant to the procedures for appointment of a receiver, in addition to any other remedies now provided by law.