[HISTORY: Adopted by the Borough Council of the Borough of Bath Adopted 10-5-2015 by Ord. No. 2015-654. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Property maintenance — See Ch. 270.
This chapter shall be known as the "Distressed Real Property Registration Act."
It is the purpose and intent of the Borough to establish a process to address the deterioration and blight of Borough neighborhoods caused by an increasing amount of abandoned, foreclosed or distressed real property located within the Borough, and to identify, regulate, limit and reduce the number of unmaintained properties located within the Borough. It is the Borough's further intent to establish a registration, inspection and maintenance program as a mechanism to protect neighborhoods from becoming blighted due to the lack of adequate maintenance and security of abandoned, foreclosed properties.
The following words, terms and phrases, when used in this chapter, shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this section, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning:
- The Borough of Bath, Northampton County, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
- DISTRESSED REAL PROPERTY
- Any real property located in the Borough, whether vacant or occupied, that is in default on a mortgage, has had a lis pendens filed against it by the lender holding a mortgage on the property, is subject to an ongoing foreclosure action, is subject to an application for a tax deed or pending Tax Assessor lien sale, or has been transferred under a deed in lieu of foreclosure. The designation of a property as distressed real property shall remain in place until such time as the property is sold or transferred to a bona fide purchaser for value, the foreclosure action has been dismissed, or any default on the mortgage has been cured.
- ENFORCEMENT OFFICER
- Any law enforcement officer, Building Official, zoning inspector, Code Enforcement Officer, fire inspector or Building Inspector, or other person authorized by the Borough to enforce the applicable code(s).
- Any person having any ownership interest, whether legal or equitable, in real property. This term shall also apply to any person or agent responsible for the construction, maintenance or operation of the property involved.
- An individual, organization, corporation, partnership, business trust, estate, trust, association or any other legal or commercial entity.
- PROPERTY MANAGEMENT COMPANY
- A local property manager, property maintenance company or similar entity responsible for the maintenance of distressed real property.
- Any building or structure that is not legally occupied.
This chapter shall be considered cumulative and not superseded by or subject to any other law or provision for same, but rather be an additional remedy available to the Borough above and beyond any other state, county or local provisions for same.
The Borough or its designee shall establish a registry cataloging each distressed real property within the Borough. The registry shall contain the information required by § 466-6C.
Any mortgagee who holds a mortgage on real property located within the Borough shall perform an inspection of the property to determine vacancy or occupancy, upon default of the mortgage by the mortgagor. The mortgagee shall, within 10 days of the inspection, register the property with the Borough, or its designee, on forms or website access provided by the Borough, and indicate whether the property is vacant or occupied. A separate registration is required for each property, whether it is found to be vacant or occupied.
Distressed real property shall be inspected by the mortgagee, or its designee, monthly. During the course of inspection, if the property is found to be vacant or shows evidence of vacancy, the mortgagee shall, within 10 days of that inspection, update the property registration to a vacancy status on forms provided by the Borough.
Registration pursuant to this section shall contain the name of the mortgagee and the servicer, the direct mailing address of the mortgagee and the servicer, a direct contact name and telephone number for both parties, facsimile number and e-mail address for both parties, the folio or tax number of the property, and the name and twenty-four-hour contact phone number of the property management company responsible for the security and maintenance of the property.
A nonrefundable annual per-property registration fee in an amount to be set forth in the Borough's fee schedule, payable to the Borough's designee, shall accompany the registration form or website registration.
All registration fees must be paid directly from the mortgagee, servicer, trustee, or owner. Third-party registration fees are not allowed without the consent of the Borough or the Borough's authorized designee.
This section shall also apply to properties that have been the subject of a foreclosure sale where the title was transferred to the beneficiary of a mortgage involved in the foreclosure and any properties transferred under a deed in lieu of foreclosure/sale.
Properties subject to this section shall remain under the annual registration requirement, and the inspection, security and maintenance standards of this chapter as long as the distressed real property remains vacant or in default.
Any person that has registered a property under this section must report any change of information contained in the registration within 10 days of the change.
Failure of the mortgagee and/or owner to properly register or to modify the registration form from time to time to reflect a change of circumstances as required by this chapter is a violation of this section and shall be subject to enforcement.
Distressed real properties shall be kept free of weeds, overgrown brush, dead vegetation, trash, junk, debris, building materials, any accumulation of newspapers circulars, flyers, notices, except those required by federal, state or local law, discarded personal items including, but not limited to, furniture, clothing, large and small appliances, printed material or any other items that give the appearance that the property is abandoned.
Distressed real property shall be maintained free of graffiti or similar markings by removal or painting over with an exterior grade paint that matches the color of the exterior structure.
Pools and spas shall be maintained so the water remains free and clear of pollutants and debris.
In addition to the above, distressed real property is required to be maintained in accordance with applicable code(s). Failure of the mortgagee and/or owner to properly maintain the distressed real property may result in a violation of applicable code(s) and commencement of an action or actions by the Borough in accordance with the applicable code(s).
Distressed real property shall be maintained in a secure manner so as not to be accessible to unauthorized persons.
A "secure manner" shall include, but not be limited to, the closure and locking of windows, doors, gates and other openings of such size that may allow a child to access the interior of the property or structure. Broken windows, doors, gates and other openings of such size that may allow a child to access the interior of the property or structure must be repaired. Broken windows shall be secured by reglazing of the window.
If a distressed real property is vacant, a property management company shall be designated by the mortgagee to perform the work necessary to bring the property into compliance with this chapter and applicable code(s), and the property management company must perform the monthly inspections required by this chapter to verify compliance with the requirements of this chapter and any other applicable laws.
Adherence to this chapter does not relieve any person or agent from any obligations set forth in any applicable code(s) which may apply to the distressed real property. Upon sale or transfer of title to distressed real property, the owner shall be responsible for all violations of the applicable code(s) and, within 45 days after sale or transfer of title to distressed real property, the owner shall schedule an inspection of the property by the Borough's enforcement officer. Prior to inspection, the owner shall pay an inspection fee in an amount to be set forth in the Borough's fee schedule for the cost of the inspection.
[Amended 11-5-2018 by Ord. No. 2018-678]
Any person who shall violate any provision of this chapter shall, upon conviction thereof, be sentenced to pay a fine of not less than $250 but not more than $1,000 plus court costs and reasonable attorney fees incurred by the Borough and, in default of payment thereof, shall be subject to imprisonment for a term not to exceed 30 days. Each section of this chapter violated shall constitute a separate offense. Each day that a violation of a section of this chapter continues shall constitute a separate offense. In addition, court costs and reasonable attorney fees incurred by the Borough in enforcement proceedings shall be assessed against violator and awarded to the Borough.
The Borough Solicitor, Borough Manager, or his or her designee, any Borough police officer, or Borough Code Enforcement Officer is hereby authorized to act on behalf of the Borough to enforce this chapter.
The registration fee and inspection fee set forth in this chapter may be modified by a resolution enacted by Borough Council of the Borough.