[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of East Rutherford 9-15-2015 by Ord. No. 2015-24. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Property maintenance — See Ch. 340
N.J.S.A. 40:48-2 provides in relevant part that a municipality may make and enforce such ordinances, rules and regulations not contrary to the laws of this state or of the United States as it may deem necessary and proper for the good government, order and protection of persons and property and for the preservation of the public health, safety and welfare of the municipality and its inhabitants.
N.J.S.A. 46:10B-51a provides in relevant part that a creditor serving a summons and complaint in an action to foreclose on a mortgage on residential property in this state shall, within 10 days of serving the summons and complaint, notify the Municipal Clerk of the municipality in which the property is located that a summons and complaint in an action to foreclose on a mortgage has been filed against the subject property. The notice shall contain the name and contact information for the representative of the creditor who is responsible for receiving complaints of property maintenance and code violations. The notice may contain information about more than one property and shall be provided by mail or electronic communication, at the discretion of the Municipal Clerk. The notice shall also include the street address, lot and block number of the property and the full name and contact information of an individual located within the state who is authorized to accept service on behalf of the creditor.
N.J.S.A. 46:10B-51b provides in relevant part that if the owner of a residential property vacates or abandons any property on which a foreclosure proceeding has been initiated or if a residential property becomes vacant at any point subsequent to the creditor's filing the summons and complaint in an action to foreclose on a mortgage against the subject property, but prior to vesting of title in the creditor or any other third party, and the property is found to be a nuisance or in violation of any applicable state or local code, the appropriate local municipal official shall notify the creditor of the nuisance or violation. The creditor shall have the responsibility to abate the nuisance or correct the violation in the same manner and to the same extent as the title owner of the property, to such standard or specification as may be required by state law or municipal ordinance.
N.J.S.A. 46:10B-51c provides in relevant part that if the municipality expends public funds in order to abate a nuisance or correct a violation on a residential property in situations where the creditor was given notice pursuant to the aforesaid statute but failed to abate the nuisance or correct the violation as directed, the municipality shall have the same recourse against the creditor as it would have against the title owner of the property, including, but not limited to, the recourse provided under N.J.S.A. 55:19-100.
N.J.S.A. 46:10B-51.1 provides in relevant part that the owner of any non-owner-occupied residential property who takes title to the property as the result of a Sheriff's sale or deed in lieu of foreclosure, other than an owner who has previously provided notice to the municipality pursuant to N.J.S.A. 46:10B-51, shall provide notice, within 10 business days, to the Municipal Clerk of the municipality wherein the property is located providing the name and address of the owner. If the owner is not located within New Jersey, then the owner shall designate an agent within New Jersey, including the agent's address, who is authorized to accept service of process on behalf of the property owner.
N.J.S.A. 55:19-100 provides in relevant part that with respect to any lien placed against any real property pursuant to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.3 or N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.3a or N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.5 or any receiver's lien pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:42-114 et seq., the municipality shall have recourse with respect to the lien against any asset of the owner of the property if an individual, against any asset of any partner if a partnership, and against any asset of any owner of a ten-percent interest or greater if the owner is any other business organization or entity recognized pursuant to law.
The Mayor and Council finds and declares that residential properties with pending foreclosure proceedings typically become vacant. These vacant properties, if not maintained, rapidly become eyesores with unkempt lawns and overgrown vegetation, broken doors and windows, and deteriorating structures. These properties create a wide range of negative secondary effects in the neighborhoods where they are located in that they foster criminal activity, create public health problems, and otherwise diminish the quality of life for residents and business operators located in those areas.
The Mayor and Council finds and declares that residential properties with pending foreclosure proceedings which have become vacant typically are not maintained by the creditor who has filed the foreclosure proceedings. These vacant properties deteriorate by neglect and diminish property values of neighboring properties, increase the risk of property damage through arson and vandalism, and discourage neighborhood stability and revitalization.
The Mayor and Council finds and declares that there are vacant residential properties located within the community that constitute a nuisance which require the abatement or removal of the nuisance by summary proceedings. Where a creditor has filed a summons and complaint for the foreclosure of a mortgage on a residential property that is vacant, the creditor is responsible for the abatement or removal of the nuisance.
The Mayor and Council finds and declares that there are vacant residential properties located within the community that have violations of the Property Maintenance Code which require affirmative action to correct the violation to protect the public health, safety or welfare. Where a creditor has filed a summons and complaint for the foreclosure of a mortgage on a residential property that is vacant, the creditor is responsible for the correction of the violation of the Property Maintenance Code.
It is the purpose and intent of this chapter to require the registration of residential properties where a creditor has filed a summons and complaint for the foreclosure of a mortgage on the property so that the Borough can identify these properties, inspect the structures, monitor the condition of the properties, ensure that the properties are maintained, and have a database of information to contact and provide legal notice to the creditor.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates that a different meaning is intended. Any words not defined herein shall have the meanings given in Webster's Unabridged Dictionary.
- A state-chartered bank, savings bank, savings and loan association or credit union, any person required to be licensed under the provisions of the New Jersey Licensed Lenders Act, (N.J.S.A. 17:11C-1 et seq.), and any entity acting on behalf of the creditor named in the debt obligations, including, but not limited to, servicers.
- IMMEDIATE FAMILY MEMBER
- Grandfather, grandmother, father, mother, son, daughter, grandson, granddaughter, brother, sister, uncle or aunt.
- RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY
- A single-family, owner-occupied residential dwelling. It shall also include a single-family residential dwelling which is occupied by an immediate family member of the person who owns the property.
- A. Residential or commercial real estate for which a notice of violation has been issued pursuant to § 341-7 of this chapter; or
- B. Where a notice of violation has not been issued pursuant to § 341-7 subject to a mortgage and not occupied by a mortgagor or tenant as evidenced by a lease agreement entered into prior to the service of a notice of intention to commence foreclosure according to N.J.S.A. 2A:50-56 and at least two of the following conditions exists:
- (1) Overgrown or neglected vegetation;
- (2) The accumulation of newspapers, circulars, flyers, or mail on the property;
- (3) Disconnected gas, electric, or water utility services to the property;
- (4) The accumulation of hazardous, noxious, or unhealthy substances or materials on the property;
- (5) The accumulation of junk, litter, trash or debris (including piles of rubble or construction debris) on the property;
- (6) The absence of window treatments such as blinds, curtains or shutters;
- (7) The absence of furnishings and personal items;
- (8) Statements of neighbors, delivery persons, or government employees indicating that the residence is vacant and abandoned;
- (9) Windows or entrances to the property that are boarded up or closed off or multiple window panes that are damaged, broken and unrepaired;
- (10) Doors to the property that are smashed through, broken off, unhinged, or continuously unlocked;
- (11) A risk to the health, safety or welfare of the public, or any adjoining or adjacent property owners, exists due to acts of vandalism, loitering, criminal conduct, or the physical destruction or deterioration of the property;
- (13) The mortgagee or other authorized party has secured or winterized the property due to the property being deemed vacant and unprotected or in danger of freezing;
- (14) A written statement issued by any mortgagor expressing the clear intent of all mortgagors to abandon the property; and
- (15) Any other reasonable indicia of abandonment.
The Property Maintenance Code of the Borough is hereby made applicable to all residential properties where a creditor has filed a summons and complaint for the foreclosure of a mortgage.
A creditor filing a summons and complaint to foreclose a mortgage on residential property within the Borough must also register the dwelling with the municipality through the Borough Clerk's office within 30 days from the date the complaint is filed with the court.
The registration form shall include the full name and contact information of an individual located within the State of New Jersey who is authorized to accept service on behalf of the creditor. The registration form shall be accompanied with a registration fee of $250 for each dwelling for the first year and $500 for each dwelling in each subsequent year. Registration forms shall be available at the Borough Clerk's office. Registrants shall deliver the completed and executed form to the Borough Clerk along with a check made payable to the Borough. A separate registration form is required for each house, commercial property, townhouse, condominium or duplex that is the subject of a foreclosure action.
The cost of inspections is included in the fee charged above.
Property registration shall be renewed every 12 months. The renewal form shall be due on the anniversary date following the original registration date. Failure to register a property in a timely basis shall result in the assessment of civil penalties. It shall be the responsibility of the registrant to notify the Borough Clerk in writing whenever there is a change in the contact information of the registrant.
[Amended 6-21-2016 by Ord. No. 2016-06]
Both the owner and occupant in possession of the subject property is a responsible party for the upkeep of the property; provided that: if a residential or commercial property becomes vacant and abandoned at any point subsequent to the filing of a summons and complaint but prior to vesting of title in the creditor/lender, the creditor/lender shall become a responsible party for the upkeep of the property immediately upon that filing. This obligation includes abatement of a nuisance and correction of violations of the municipal property maintenance code. If a residential or commercial property becomes vacant and abandoned, the creditor/lender shall be the responsible party 30 days after receiving notice from the municipality that the property has become vacant without regard to whether the creditor has filed a summons and complaint. Said notice must be sent immediately upon receipt to the creditor/lender by certified mail. If the certified mail has not been able to be delivered, the 30 days shall run from the time of the property’s being posted in a conspicuous place or a notice’s being forwarded by regular mail to the last known address of the creditor as noted in the records of the Tax Collector.
[Amended 6-21-2016 by Ord. No. 2016-06]
Once a home is registered, the Borough Clerk shall notify the code enforcement inspectors who shall send an inspector to the property to determine whether there are any violations of the Property Maintenance Code. After the inspection notice shall be sent to the contact for the responsible party identified in the registration made pursuant to § 341-5 indicating what problems must be remedied. The notice shall state the time period for the completion of the work which shall be no earlier than 30 days after receipt, provided that in the event of an imminent threat to public health and safety, no greater than 10 days after receipt. A reinspection of the property shall take place at the end of that time period to determine whether compliance has occurred.
The procedural requirements of Chapter 340 of this Code shall be applicable to this chapter.
It shall be unlawful for any person to be in conflict with, or in violation of, any of the provisions of this chapter. Each day that a violation continues, after the notice of violation and order for compliance has been served and the time specified in the order has expired, shall constitute a separate offense. Any person who shall violate the regulations contained herein shall be subject to a fine of not less than $500 nor more than $1,000 for each offense. Repeat offenders shall be subject to a fine of not less than $1,000 nor more than $2,000. Repeat offenders may also be sentenced to a term of community service not exceeding 90 days and/or 30 days in the county jail.
If the municipality expends public funds in order to abate a nuisance or correct a violation of the Property Maintenance Code on a residential property in situations in which the creditor was given notice pursuant to this chapter, but failed to abate the nuisance or correct the violations as directed, the municipality shall have the same recourse against the creditor as it would have against the title owner of the property. The municipality may assess a lien against the subject property for the moneys expended by the municipality. This lien may be enforced and collected in the same manner as real estate taxes are enforced and collected.