[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Committee of the Township of Rochelle Park as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Property maintenance — See Ch. 150.
[Adopted 10-15-2014 by Ord. No. 1078-14]
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- Any title holder, any agent of the title holder having authority to act with respect to a vacant property, any foreclosing entity subject to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 46:10B-51 (P.L. 2008, c. 127, § 17, as amended by P.L. 2009, c. 296), or any other entity determined by the Township of Rochelle Park to have authority to act with respect to the property.
- VACANT PROPERTY
- Any building used or to be used as a residence which is not legally occupied or at which substantially all lawful construction operations or residential occupancy has ceased, and which is in such condition that it cannot legally be reoccupied without repair or rehabilitation, including but not limited to any property meeting the definition of abandoned property in N.J.S.A. 55:19-80; provided, however, that any property where all building systems are in working order, where the building and grounds are maintained in good order, or where the building is in habitable condition, and where the building is being actively marketed by its owner for sale or rental, shall not be deemed a vacant property for purposes of this article.
Effective January 1, 2015, the owner of any vacant property as defined herein shall, within 30 calendar days after the building becomes vacant property or within 30 calendar days after assuming ownership of the vacant property, whichever is later; or within 10 calendar days of receipt of notice by the municipality, file a registration statement for such vacant property with the Property Maintenance Officer on forms provided by the Township for such purposes. Failure to receive notice from the municipality shall not constitute grounds for failing to register the property.
Each party having a separate block and lot number as designated in official records of the municipality shall be registered separately.
The registration statement shall include the name, street address, telephone number, and e-mail address (if applicable) of a person 21 years or older, designated by the owner or owners as the authorized agent for receiving notices of code violations and for receiving process in any court proceeding or administrative enforcement proceeding on behalf of such owner or owners in connection with the enforcement of any applicable code; and the name, street address, telephone number, and e-mail address (if applicable) of the firm and the actual name(s) of the firm's individual principal(s) responsible for maintaining the property, who shall be available by telephone or in person on a twenty-four-hour-per-day, seven-day-per-week basis. The two entities may be the same or different persons. Both entities shown on the statement must maintain offices in the State of New Jersey or reside within the State of New Jersey.
The registration shall remain valid for one year from the date of registration except for the initial registration time, which shall be prorated through December 31. The owner shall be required to renew the registration annually as long as the building remains a vacant property and shall pay a registration or renewal fee in the amount prescribed in this article for each vacant property registered.
The annual renewal shall be completed by January 1 each year. The initial registration fee shall be prorated for registration statements received less than 10 months prior to that date, but not the escrow fee.
The owner shall notify the Property Maintenance Officer within 30 calendar days of any change in the registration information by filing an amended registration statement on a form provided by the Property Maintenance Officer for such purpose.
The registration statement shall be deemed prima facie proof of the statements therein contained in any administrative enforcement proceeding or court proceeding instituted by the Township against the owner or owners of the building.
The owner of any vacant property registered under this article shall provide access to the Township to conduct exterior and interior inspections of the building to determine compliance with municipal codes, upon reasonable notice to the property owner or the designated agent. Such inspections shall be carried out on weekdays during the hours of 9:00 a.m. through 4:00 p.m., or such other time as may be mutually agreed upon between the owner and the Township.
An owner who meets the requirements of this article with respect to the location of his or her residence or workplace in the State of New Jersey may designate himself or herself as agent or as the individual responsible for maintaining the property.
By designating an authorized agent under the provisions of this section, the owner consents to receive any and all notices of code violations concerning the registered vacant property and all process in any court proceeding or administrative enforcement proceeding brought to enforce code provisions concerning the registered building by service of the notice or process on the authorized agent. Any owner who has designated an authorized agent under the provisions of this section shall be deemed to consent to the continuation of the agent's designation for the purposes of this section until the owner notifies the Township of Rochelle Park, in writing, of a change of authorized agent or until the owner files a new annual registration statement.
Any owner who fails to register a vacant property under the provisions of this article shall further be deemed to consent to receive, by posting on the building, in plain view, and by service of notice at the last known address of the owner of the property on record with the Township of Rochelle Park, by regular and certified mail, any and all notices of code violations and all process in an administrative proceeding brought to enforce code provisions concerning the building.
The initial registration fee for each building shall be $100. The fee for each subsequent year renewal shall be $100. In addition to such registration fee, the owner shall post an escrow for each and every vacant property according to the annual fee schedule below. Said escrow shall be used for any costs expended by the Township in maintaining, abating, or correcting any nuisance or property maintenance violation, or securing the premises from unauthorized entry and any other matter that the Township deems appropriate for the public's health, safety and welfare.
The initial escrow shall be deposited at the time of registration, and all subsequent years shall be posted by January 31 of the following year. If at any point the escrow shall become deficient, the owner shall replenish the escrow account according to years since initial registration. Any unused escrow amount shall be refunded to the owner at the time the premises becomes occupied and shall not be subject to the requirements of this article.
The owner of any building that has become vacant property, and any person maintaining or operating or collecting rent for any such building that has become vacant, shall, within 30 days thereof:
Enclose and secure the building against unauthorized entry as provided in the applicable provisions of the Township Code, or as set forth in the rules and regulations supplementing those codes, until the building is again legally occupied or demolished or until repair or rehabilitation of the building is complete; and
Ensure that the exterior grounds of the structure, including yards, fences, swimming pools, sidewalks, walkways, rights-of-way, alleys, retaining walls, attached or unattached accessory structures and driveways, are well maintained and free from trash, debris, loose litter, and grass and weed growth.
If the owner is in violation of any terms and conditions of this article, the Township shall send notice to the owner, via certified and regular mail, as identified on the registration, that such violation must be remedied within 30 days. If such violation is not remedied within 30 days of such notice, the Township shall cause a summons to be issued.
In addition to such summons, the Township shall have the right to expend public funds in order to abate the nuisance, correct or remedy the violation, or secure the premises against unauthorized entry, and such costs shall be paid from the escrow established pursuant to § 151-5B.
If the amount of escrow posted shall be insufficient to reimburse the municipality for such costs, then notice shall be given to the owner, and any unpaid costs after 30 days shall become a lien upon the property and shall be added to and form a part of the taxes next to be assessed and levied and shall be certified to the person or persons whose duty it is to collect the taxes of the Township and shall be collected in the same manner and at the same time as other taxes.
For the purposes of obnoxious weeds or growth, the cutting of the grass, or removal of snow and ice, the notice provided to the owner pursuant to Subsection A above, shall include such notice that unless the owner shall object, a regular schedule shall be established between the contractor and the Township to trim said obnoxious weeds or growth, to cut the grass, or to remove the snow and ice on the property. Said regular schedule of work shall be no more than twice a month.
The Property Maintenance Officer shall enforce this article.
For purposes of this section, failure to file a registration statement within 30 calendar days after a building becomes vacant property or within 30 calendar days after assuming ownership of a vacant property, whichever is later, or within 10 calendar days of receipt of notice by the municipality, and failure to provide correct information on the registration statement, or failure to comply with the provisions contained herein, shall be deemed to be violations of this article.
Any person who violates any provision of this article or of the rules and regulations issued hereunder shall be fined not less than $100 and not more than $2,000 for each offense. Every day that a violation continues shall constitute a separate and distinct offense. Fines assessed under this chapter shall be recoverable from the owner.