[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Committee of the Township of Westampton 10-13-2015 by Ord. No. 13-2015. Amendments noted where applicable.]
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- Consistent with Section 3 of P.L. 2008, c. 86, a state-chartered
bank, savings and loan association or any credit union, any person
required to be licensed under the provisions of the New Jersey Residential
Mortgage Lending Act, and any entity acting on behalf of the Creditor named
in the debt obligation, including, but not limited to, servicers.[Added 11-21-2016 by Ord. No. 22-2016]
- The title holder, any agent of the title holder having authority to act with respect to a vacant property, and foreclosing entity subject to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 46:10B-51 (P.L. 2008, c.127, Sec. 17) or any other entity determined by the Township of Westampton to have authority to act with respect to the property.
- VACANT AND ABANDONED PROPERTY
- Any building used or to be used as a residence or business which is not legally occupied or at which substantially all lawful construction or business operations or residential occupancy has ceased, and which is in such condition that it cannot legally be reoccupied without repair or rehabilitation and at least two of the following conditions exist:
- A. Overgrown or neglected vegetation, including, but not limited to, brush, weeds, dead or dying trees;
- B. Infestation of insects, vermin, rats, or other pests;
- C. The accumulation of newspapers, circulars, flyers, or mail on the property;
- D. Disconnected gas, electric, or water utility services to the property;
- E. The accumulation of hazardous, noxious, or unhealthy substances or materials on the property;
- F. The accumulation of junk, letters, trash, or debris on the property;
- G. The absence of window treatments such as blinds, curtains, or shutters;
- H. The absence of furnishings and personal items;
- I. Statements by neighbors, delivery persons, or government employees indicating that the residence is vacant and abandoned;
- J. Windows or entrances to the property that are boarded up or closed off, or multiple windowpanes that are damaged, broken, and unrepaired;
- K. Doors to the property that are smashed through, broken off, unhinged, or continually unlocked;
- L. A risk to the health, safety, or welfare of the public or any adjoining or adjacent property owners, that exists due to acts of vandalism, loitering, criminal conduct, or the physical destruction or deterioration of the property;
- M. An uncorrected violation of a municipal building, housing, or similar code during the preceding year, or any order by municipal authorities declaring the property to be unfit for occupancy and to remain vacant and unoccupied;
- N. 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;
- O. A written statement issued by a mortgagor expressing the clear intent of all mortgagors to abandon the property; or
- P. Any other reasonable indicia of abandonment.
Editor's Note: See N.J.S.A. 17:11C-51 et seq.
Effective May 1, 2015, the owner of any vacant property as defined herein shall within 60 days after the building becomes vacant property or within 30 days after assuming ownership of the vacant property, whichever is later, file a registration statement for each such vacant property with the Township of Westampton Code Enforcement Official on forms provided by the Township Code Enforcement Official for such purposes. The registration shall remain valid until the end of the calendar year. The owner shall be required to renew the registration annually, no later than January 31, as long as the building remains vacant property and shall pay a registration or renewal fee in the amount prescribed in § 182-4 of this chapter for each vacant property registered.
Any owner of any building that meets the definition of vacant property prior to May 1, 2015, shall file a registration statement for that property on or before May 31, 2015. The registration statement shall include the information required under § 182-3 of this chapter, as well as any additional information that the Township Code Enforcement Official may reasonably require.
The owner shall notify the Township Code Enforcement Official within 30 days of any change in the registration information by filing an amended registration statement on a form provided by the Township Code Enforcement Official 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 of Westampton against the owner or owners of the building.
After filing a registration statement or a renewal of a registration statement, the owner of any vacant property shall provide access to the Township Code Enforcement Official to conduct an exterior and interior inspection of the building to determine compliance with the Township Code, following reasonable notice, during the period covered by the initial registration or any subsequent renewal.
The registration statement shall include the name, street address, and telephone number of a natural person 18 years of age 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. This person must maintain an office in the State of New Jersey or reside within the State of New Jersey. The statement shall also include the name of the person responsible for maintaining and security of the property, if different.
An owner who is a natural person and who meets the requirements of this chapter as to location of residence or office may designate him- or herself as agent.
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 Code Enforcement Official of a change of authorized agent or until the owner files a new annual registration statement. The designation of an authorized agent in no way releases the owner from any requirement of this chapter.
The initial registration fee for a vacant and abandoned property as defined in § 182-1 shall be $250 and shall be prorated until the end of that calendar year.
[Amended 11-21-2016 by Ord. No. 22-2016]
The owner of any building that has become a vacant and abandoned property, and any person maintaining, 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 rules and regulations supplementing those codes; and
Post a sign affixed to the inside of the building indicating the name, address, and telephone number of the owner, the owner's authorized agent for the purpose of service of process (if designated pursuant to § 182-3 of this chapter), and the person responsible for day-to-day supervision and management of the building, if such person is different from the owner holding title or authorized agent. The sign shall be of a size and placed in such a location so as to be legible from the nearest public street or sidewalk, whichever is nearer, but shall be no smaller than 15 inches by 17 inches; and
Secure the building from unauthorized entry and maintain the sign until the building is again legally occupied or demolished or until repair or rehabilitation of the building is complete.
Place a sign or posting indicating that unauthorized persons are not permitted entry into the building or on the porch, curtilage or surrounding areas in accordance with the provisions of N.J.S.A. 2C:18-3b(2). Said sign/posting shall clearly indicate "No trespassing" in a form approved by the Township of Westampton and shall be placed in a conspicuous location on the premises.
The owner of any vacant building shall acquire and otherwise maintain liability insurance by procuring a vacancy policy in an amount of not less than $300,000 for buildings designed primarily for use as residential units and not less than $1,000,000 for any other building, including, but not limited to, buildings designed for manufacturing, industrial, storage or commercial uses, covering any damage to any person or any property caused by any physical condition of or in the building.
The owner shall attach evidence of the insurance to the owner's registration statement. Any registration statement submitted that does not include such evidence shall not be deemed to be a valid registration.
The Township Committee for the Township of Westampton may issue rules and regulations for the administration of the provisions of this chapter.
Any owner who is not in full compliance with this chapter or who otherwise violates any provision of this chapter or of the rules and regulations issued hereunder shall be subject to a fine of not less than $500 and not more than $1,000 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 and shall be a lien on the property.
For purposes of this chapter, failure to file a registration statement in time, failure to provide correct information on the registration statement, failure to comply with the provisions of § 182-5 of this chapter, or such other matters as may be established by the rules and regulations of the Township Committee for the Township of Westampton shall be deemed to be violation of this chapter.
Nothing in this chapter is intended to nor shall be read to conflict or prevent the Township of Westampton from taking action against buildings found to be unfit for human habitation or unsafe structures as provided in applicable provisions of the Code of the Township of Westampton and/or the Uniform Construction Code. Further, any action taken under any such code provision other than the demolition of a structure shall not relieve an owner from its obligations under this chapter.
[Amended 11-21-2016 by Ord. No. 22-2016]
Pursuant to the provisions of the Public Laws of 2014, Chapter 35, a creditor, as defined in § 182-1, filing a summons and complaint to foreclose a lien on a residential property that is vacant and abandoned, whether the filing of the summons and complaint is made before or after the determination that the property is vacant and abandoned, shall be responsible for the care, maintenance, security, and upkeep of the exterior of the residential property. This obligation applies whether the determination that the property is vacant and abandoned is made by the public officer pursuant to the provisions of this chapter of the Code of the Township of Westampton, pursuant to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 2A:50-73 or otherwise.
Editor's Note: See N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.12s.
If the public officer, or other authorized municipal official, determines that a creditor obligated to care, maintain, secure and keep up a vacant and abandoned property has failed to do so in violation of the provisions of this chapter of the Code, the public officer or other authorized municipal official shall issue a notice of violation to the creditor that has filed a summons and complaint to foreclose on the property in question. The notice shall require the person or entity to correct the violation within 30 days of receipt of the notice, or within 10 days of receipt of the notice if the violation presents an imminent threat to public health and safety. The issuance of this notice shall constitute evidence that a property is vacant and abandoned for purposes of N.J.S.A. 2A:50-73.
An out-of-state creditor shall include the full name and contact information of the in-state representative or agent in the notice required to be provided to the Municipal Clerk pursuant to paragraph one of N.J.S.A. 46:10B-51. An out-of-state creditor found by a court of competent jurisdiction to have violated this provision shall be subject to a fine of $2,500 for each day of the violation commencing on the day after the ten-day period set forth in paragraph one of N.J.S.A. 46:10b-51 with respect to notifying the Municipal Clerk that an action to foreclose on the property has been filed.
Except as set forth in this chapter and herein, any person, firm, corporation or entity violating any provision of this chapter shall, upon conviction, be punishable as provided in this Code. A creditor required to care, maintain, secure and keep up a property under this chapter cited in a notice issued pursuant to Subsection 9B shall be subject to a fine of $1,500 for each day of the violation.
Notice of violations of property maintenance, building or other property codes for any property declared vacant and abandoned pursuant to this chapter shall be given to a foreclosing creditor pursuant to the procedures of this Code as required by P.L. 2014, c. 35.
Editor's Note: See N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.12s.