Township of Toms River, NJ
Ocean County
By using eCode360 you agree to be legally bound by the Terms of Use. If you do not agree to the Terms of Use, please do not use eCode360.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Township Council of the Township of Toms River 4-10-2018 by Ord. No. 4579-18. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Unfit and unsafe buildings — See Ch. 228.
Housing and rental property standards — See Ch. 335.
Nuisances — See Ch. 368.
As used in this article, the following terms have the meanings set forth:
OWNER
The 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, and any amendments or supplements thereto; or any other entity determined by the Township of Toms River to have authority with respect to the property.
VACANT/ABANDONED PROPERTY
Any building or structure to be used as a residence or commercial or industrial facility 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 be legally reoccupied without repair or rehabilitation, including but not limited to any property that constitutes abandoned property pursuant to N.J.S.A. 55:19-80 et seq.; 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/abandoned property.
A. 
The owner of any vacant/abandoned property, or his or her authorized agent, shall file a registration statement for that property with the Division of Code Enforcement on forms promulgated by the Division of this purpose.
B. 
The registration statement must be filed no later than 30 days after the property becomes vacant/abandoned, or the assumption of ownership of vacant/abandoned property, whichever is later; or no later than 10 days after receiving written notice from the Township. Failure to receive notice from the Township does not constitute grounds for failure to register.
C. 
Each vacant/abandoned property having a separate block and lot number as designated in official records of the Township must be separately registered.
D. 
The registration statement must include the following information:
(1) 
Name, street address, telephone number, and e-mail address (if applicable) of a person 21 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 action.
(2) 
Name, street address, telephone number, and e-mail address (if applicable) of the entity, and the names of the individual principals thereof, if any, responsible for managing and maintaining the property.
E. 
The registration is effective for the calendar year in which issued and must be renewed annually on or before January 31.
F. 
The owner, or his or her authorized agent, must file an amended registration statement on forms provided for this purpose no later than 30 days following any change of information.
G. 
The owner or authorized agent must certify to the truth of all information provided on the registration statement. False or misleading information on the registration statement constitutes a violation of this article.
The owner, or authorized agent thereof, of vacant/abandoned property registered under this article must provide the Township with access thereto for the purpose of conducting interior and exterior inspections to determine compliance with all applicable laws, regulations, codes, and ordinances. The Township shall provide the owner or authorized agent with reasonable notice of such inspections, which will be carried out during regular business hours, or at such other times as circumstances warrant or as agreed to by the parties.
A. 
The owner must appoint an authorized agent for receiving notices of code violations and for receiving process in any court proceeding or administrative enforcement action. The owner may serve in this capacity, or may designate a third party to do so.
B. 
By designating an authorized agent as provided hereunder, the owner consents to receive, by service of process on the authorized agent, any and all notices of code violations, and service of process in any court proceeding or administrative enforcement action, concerning the registered vacant/abandoned property.
C. 
The authorized agent designated pursuant to this subsection and identified on the registration statement pursuant to § 473-2D(1) is hereby deemed to continue in that capacity until the filing of an amended registration statement designating a replacement.
D. 
Owners who fail to register vacant/abandoned properties pursuant to this article are hereby deemed to have consented to receive any and all notices of code violations and process in any court proceeding or administrative enforcement actions served in the following manner: 1) by plain-view posting on the structure; and 2) by service of notice, via regular and certified mail, at the owners' last known address on record with the Township.
E. 
To the extent the owner employs a third party to manage and maintain the vacant/abandoned property, as designated on the registration statement pursuant to § 473-2D(2), that individual or entity may also be designated as the owner's authorized agent hereunder.
Registration of vacant/abandoned properties under this section is subject to the following fees:
A. 
Initial registration: $750.
B. 
First renewal: $2,000.
C. 
Second renewal: $3,000.
D. 
Third and subsequent renewals: $5,000.
The owner, or authorized agent thereof, and any person or entity maintaining, operating, or collecting rent for any structure that has become vacant/abandoned as defined in this article, must, within 30 days thereof, undertake all of the following measures:
A. 
Enclose and secure the structure against unauthorized entry as provided under Chapter 335 of the Township Code.
B. 
Affix to the structure a sign stating the name, address, and telephone number of the owner, or the owner's authorized agent(s) for service of process and management/maintenance. The sign must be sized and located so that it is legible from the nearest public street or sidewalk but cannot be any smaller than eight by 10 inches.
C. 
Secure the structure from unauthorized entry and maintain the sign until the building is again legally occupied, demolished, or until repair or rehabilitation of the structure is completed.
D. 
Ensure that the exterior grounds of the structure, including yards, fences, sidewalks, walkways, rights-of-way, alleys, retaining walks, attached or unattached accessory structures and driveways, are maintained in accordance with Chapter 335 of the Township Code and are free from trash, debris, loose litter, and grass and weed growth.
E. 
Continue to maintain the structure in a secure and closed condition, keep the grounds in a clean and well-maintained condition, and ensure that the sign is visible and intact until the structure is again occupied, demolished, or until rehabilitation of the structure is completed.
A. 
The Division of Code Enforcement is hereby charged with the enforcement of this article, with the assistance, as circumstances warrant, of other Township agencies within their respective jurisdictions.
B. 
Any person or entity violating this article shall be subject to the maximum fines and penalties established under N.J.S.A. 40:49-5 and N.J.S.A. 40:69A-29, and any subsequent amendments to those statutes.
C. 
Each day that a violation continues constitutes a separate and distinct offense.
D. 
Fines and penalties imposed under this article are recoverable from the owner and, if not paid, may be imposed as a lien against the property.
E. 
No less than 20% of any money collected by the Township pursuant to this article shall be earmarked for code enforcement purposes.
As used in this article, the following terms have the meanings set forth:
CREDITOR
A state-chartered bank; savings bank; savings and loan association or credit union; any person or entity required to be licensed under the provisions of the New Jersey Residential Mortgage Act, N.J.S.A. 17:11C-51 to 17:11C-89, and any amendments or supplements thereto; any foreclosing entity subject to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 46:10B-51, and any amendments or supplements thereto; and any entity acting on behalf of the creditor named in the debt obligation including, but not limited to, servicers.
VACANT/ABANDONED
Consistent with N.J.S.A. 2A:50-73, residential real estate for which a notice of violation has been issued pursuant to this article and N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.12s(b). Residential property shall further be deemed vacant/abandoned where a mortgaged property is not occupied by a mortgagor or tenant and at least two of the following conditions exist:
A. 
Overgrown and neglected vegetation.
B. 
Accumulation of newspapers, circulars, flyers, or mail on the property.
C. 
Disconnected utility services.
D. 
Accumulation of hazardous, noxious, or unhealthy substances or materials on the property.
E. 
Accumulation of junk, litter, trash, or debris on the property.
F. 
Absence of window treatments such as blinds, curtains, or shutters.
G. 
Absence of furnishings or personal items.
H. 
Statements of neighbors, association management, delivery persons, or government employees indicating that the residence is vacant/abandoned.
I. 
Windows or entrances to the property that are boarded up or closed off or multiple window panes that are damaged, broken, and unrepaired.
J. 
Doors that are smashed through, broken off, unhinged, or continuously unlocked.
K. 
Risks to the health, safety, or welfare of the public, or any adjoining or adjacent property owners resulting from vandalism, loitering, criminal conduct, or the physical destruction or deterioration of the property.
L. 
Uncorrected violations of municipal building, housing, fire, zoning, or property maintenance codes, or other state or federal law or regulation, during the preceding year, or an order by municipal authorities declaring the property to be unfit for occupancy and to remain vacant and unoccupied.
M. 
The property has been winterized or secured as the result of vacancy and being unprotected and in danger of freezing.
N. 
A written statement issued by any mortgagor expressing the clear intent of all mortgagors to abandon the property.
O. 
Any other reasonable indicia of vacancy/abandonment.
A. 
A creditor filing a summons and complaint in an action to foreclose on a vacant/abandoned property, or a creditor that has previously filed a summons and complaint to foreclose on residential property that subsequently becomes vacant/abandoned must register the property in accordance with the provisions of, and follow all other registration requirements established under, Article I of this chapter.
B. 
The fee schedule established under Article I of this chapter governs the registration of foreclosed properties under this article.
A. 
A creditor filing a summons and complaint in an action to foreclose on a residential property within the Township shall be immediately responsible for the care, maintenance, security, and upkeep of the exterior of the property after the property has become vacant/abandoned as defined in this article.
B. 
Out-of-state creditors are responsible for appointing an in-state representative or agent to act on their behalf to satisfy the maintenance and security requirements imposed under the preceding subsection. This representative shall be identified on the required registration documents.
A. 
The Division of Code Enforcement is hereby charged with the enforcement of this article, with the assistance, as circumstances warrant, of other Township agencies within their respective jurisdictions.
B. 
Notices of violations may be issued to creditors or, if of out-of-state, the authorized agents thereof.
C. 
Violations must be corrected no later than 30 days from receipt of the notice or no later than 10 days from receipt of the notice where the violation presents an imminent threat to public health and safety.
D. 
The issuance of a notice of violation pursuant to this subsection constitutes proof that the property is vacant/abandoned as defined hereunder.
A. 
Any creditor convicted in a court of competent jurisdiction of violating the requirement to maintain, secure, care for, and upkeep vacant/abandoned property shall be subject to a fine of $1,500 for each day of the violation. Fines shall accrue 31 days following receipt of the notice of violation, or, where the violation presents an imminent threat to public health and safety, 11 days following the issuance of the notice.
B. 
Any out-of-state creditor convicted in a court of competent jurisdiction of violating the requirement to appoint an in-state representative or agent shall be subject to a fine of $2,500 for each day of the violation. These fines commence on the day after the ten-day period established under N.J.S.A. 46:10B-51a(1), and any amendments or supplements thereto, to provide notice to the municipal clerk that a summons and complaint in a foreclosure action have been served.
C. 
Any creditor convicted in a court of competent jurisdiction for failing to register vacant/abandoned property pursuant to this article shall be subject to a fine not exceeding $2,000. These fines shall accrue 11 days following receipt of the notice of violation.
D. 
No less than 20% of any money collected by the Township pursuant to this article shall be earmarked for code enforcement purposes.