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Borough of Somerville, NJ
Somerset County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Somerville 8-2-76 as Ord. No. 784. Amendments noted where applicable.]
A. 
Terms defined. The following words, when used in this chapter, shall have the meanings indicated:
ATTIC (MINIMUM CEILING HEIGHT)
The ceiling height shall be not less than seven (7) feet over not less than one-third (1/3) of the minimum area required by the BOCA Basic Housing Code, 1975 Edition, when used for sleeping, studying or a similar activity. In calculating, the floor area of the room having a clear ceiling height of five (5) feet or more may be included.
[Amended 5-16-77 by Ord. No. 812]
BOROUGH
The Borough of Somerville.
BOROUGH COUNCIL
The Borough Council of the Borough of Somerville.
CELLAR
That portion of any dwelling having half or more of its clear floor-to-ceiling height below the average grade of the adjoining ground.
FAMILY
Up to two (2) persons unrelated by blood, marriage or adoption, or any number of individuals related by blood, marriage or adoption, living privately together as a single housekeeping unit in a structure or building and using certain rooms and cooking facilities in common.
OWNER
Any person, as herein defined, who, alone or jointly or severally with others, shall have legal title to the premises where any rooming house, as herein defined, is operated or intended to be operated, or is an authorized agent of such owner or an executor, administrator, trustee or guardian of the estate of such owner.
PERSON
A corporation, association, firm and partnership, as well as an individual.
PERSON OPERATING A ROOMING HOUSE (OR WORDS OF SIMILAR IMPORT)
A person, as herein defined, who carries on the business of or conducts a rooming house, as herein defined, as the owner, lessee or sublessee of the premises where such rooming house is operated, or who operates, carries on the business of or conducts a rooming house by or through an agent or manager.
ROOMER OR ROOMERS
Any person or persons who occupies part of any structure or building who is not a member of the family by blood, marriage or legal adoption who, for a consideration or as part of compensation, is furnished accommodations in said building or structure.
ROOMING HOUSE
Any building or structure occupied by two (2) or more roomers; and any building or structure of which one (1) or more rooms are used, maintained, advertised or held out to the public as a place where sleeping accommodations for two (2) or more roomers are offered for pay or as part of compensation. A "rooming house" shall include any premises designated as a "boardinghouse," "lodging house," "tourist home" or by a similar designation.
[Amended 10-5-76 by Ord. No. 793]
B. 
Word usage. Whenever in this chapter any word importing the singular number or masculine gender is used in describing or referring to any person, party, matter or thing, the same shall include and apply to several persons or parties as well as to one (1) person or party, to females as well as males and to several matters or things as well as to one (1) matter or thing.
No person shall operate a rooming house in the borough without having first obtained a license therefor from the Borough Council. Five (5) copies of the application for such license shall be made to the Borough Clerk and shall be signed by both the owner of the premises where such rooming house is operated or intended to be operated and by the person operating or intending to operate the same. No license shall be issued except in conformity with the provisions of this chapter, the Zoning Ordinance and the Building Code applicable in the borough.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 175, Zoning, and Ch. 56, Building Construction
Such application shall accurately state:
A. 
The location of the premises where such rooming house is operated or intended to be operated.
B. 
The names and addresses, respectively, of the owner of such premises and the person operating or intending to operate such rooming house.
C. 
The number of rooms on each floor of such premises, including any basement rooms.
D. 
A floor plan showing:
(1) 
The number of rooms on each floor of such premises for occupation by roomers.
(2) 
The size and height of each of such rooms.
(3) 
The size and location of each window and door in each of such rooms.
(4) 
The relation of each of such rooms to the other rooms in the building.
E. 
The sanitary facilities available for use by the roomers, of what they consist and their location in such premises.
F. 
The means of egress from each floor of such premises.
G. 
The maximum number of roomers such rooming house is designed to house.
H. 
Whether the person operating or intending to operate such rooming house has ever been convicted of a crime.
I. 
All means of fire protection.
[Amended 5-16-77 by Ord. No. 812]
Each original and renewal application shall be accompanied by an annual license fee of ten dollars ($10) per room available to be used by a roomer or roomers for sleeping purposes, but in no event shall such license fee exceed two hundred dollars ($200) per year. All licenses shall expire on the last day of November of each year and shall be renewable annually. The fee shall be prorated when application is made after the beginning of the license year; except that the license fee for the period from January 1, 1977, through November 30, 1977, shall be five dollars ($5) per room intended or available to be used by a roomer for sleeping purposes, but in no event shall such fee exceed one hundred dollars ($100). No license shall be transferable.
Every application made for renewal of a license shall state, in detail, all changes, alterations, additions or improvements made since the first application or the last renewal application, as the case may be, and the maximum number of roomers such rooming house will, by reason thereof, accommodate.
All applications for a license or renewal of a license shall be referred to the Health Officer, Fire Chief, Building Inspector and Police Chief of the borough for inspection and report. No application shall be approved unless the Health Officer issues a certificate to the effect that the premises fully complies with the sanitary laws, ordinances and rules and regulations of the state and borough and also with the provisions of this chapter, and the said Fire Chief reports, in writing, that no fire hazard exists, and the said Building Inspector reports, in writing, that the premises does not violate the Building Code of the borough, and said Police Chief reports, in writing, that there are no violations of this chapter or any other laws and that the applicant meets all requirements established by this chapter.
The Health Officer, Police Chief, Fire Chief and Building Inspector, or their respective authorized agents, are hereby authorized and directed to make periodic inspections to determine the condition of the rooming house in order that they may perform their duty of safeguarding the health, safety and morals of the roomers thereof and of the general public. Such inspections shall be performed at least once in each license year. For such purpose, the aforesaid officials are hereby authorized to enter, examine and survey, at all reasonable times, the rooming house and its rooms. The owner of the premises, the person operating the rooming house and all roomers of such rooming house shall give the said officials free access to such rooming house and its rooms for the purpose of such inspection. Every roomer of such rooming house shall give the owner of the premises and the person operating such rooming house, and their respective agents and employees, access to any part of such rooming house and its rooms for the making of such repairs, alterations or performing such other work as may be necessary to comply with the provisions of this chapter or any rules or regulations made by the Borough Council pursuant to this chapter; and no roomer as aforesaid shall interfere with or prevent the said owner or the person operating said rooming house, or their respective agents or employees, from complying with the provisions of this chapter or any rule or regulation made by the Borough Council pursuant to this chapter.
Not later than forty-five (45) days from receipt of the completed application and license fee, the Building Inspector, Health Officer, Fire Chief and Chief of Police shall submit reports of their investigations to the Borough Clerk. The Borough Clerk shall promptly transmit said reports, together with the license application, to the Mayor and Council. The Mayor and Council shall approve, conditionally approve or disapprove the application within thirty-five (35) days from receipt of the reports and application from the Borough Clerk. The Mayor and Council shall approve the license application unless any report discloses that the premises are in violation of this chapter or that the applicant is ineligible by virtue of prior criminal conviction, as set forth hereinbelow. The Mayor and Council may conditionally approve a license application by conditioning approval upon corrective action being taken by the applicant within a specified period of time. Prior to disapproval of a license application, the Mayor and Council shall afford to the applicant an opportunity to be heard on the application. If the license application is disapproved because the premises are in violation of this chapter, the applicant may reapply at such time as the violation or violations are corrected.
A. 
In the event that a licensee violates this chapter and/or any rules and regulations promulgated pursuant thereto, the Building Inspector, Health Officer, Fire Chief or Chief of Police may revoke said license, subject to the following procedures:
(1) 
Making a determination that a violation exists.
(2) 
Giving notice of the violation to the licensee, roomer and owner of said premises as set forth in the license application. Said notice shall be given by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the addressee set forth in said application, or personally upon said persons. A roomer may be given notice by posting same at the entrance to the rooming house.
(3) 
Said notice shall give said persons ten (10) days to correct said violation and notification that if the violation is not corrected within said ten-day period the license shall be revoked.
(4) 
If the person notified disputes the notice given or the revocation of said license by the Building Inspector, Health Officer, Fire Chief or Chief of Police, said person may make an appeal to the Mayor and Council by personally serving upon said Mayor and Council written notice, within five (5) days after said notice of revocation, of the appeal and the basis of the appeal. The Mayor and Council shall hold a hearing and make a determination within fifteen (15) days of receipt of said notice. The decision of the Mayor and Council shall be final.
B. 
After revocation of said license the applicant may at any time apply for a new license, provided that said violation has been corrected.
No person shall occupy, nor shall any person operating such rooming house let or lease to any person, nor shall the owner of the premises permit the operator of such rooming house to let or lease to any person a room in such rooming house which does not comply with the following requirements:
A. 
Every room occupied for sleeping purposes by one (1) roomer shall contain at least eighty (80) square feet of floor space, and every room occupied for sleeping purposes by more than one (1) roomer shall contain an additional sixty (60) square feet of floor space for each additional roomer. Not more than two (2) roomers shall occupy any one (1) room for sleeping purposes.
B. 
Room arrangements shall be such that access to a sleeping room can be had without going through another sleeping room or a bathroom or a water closet compartment.
C. 
Room arrangements shall be such that access to a bathroom or water closet compartment intended for use by roomers of more than one (1) sleeping room can be had without going through another sleeping room.
D. 
Every sleeping room shall have a ceiling height of at least seven and one-half (7 1/2) feet in at least one-half (1/2) of its area. Any floor area of that part of any sleeping room where the ceiling height is less than five (5) feet shall not be considered as part of the floor area in computing the total floor area of such sleeping room for determining the maximum permissible occupancy thereof.
E. 
No cellar or attic space shall be rented to a roomer or roomers.
F. 
Every sleeping room, bathroom and water closet compartment shall have at least one (1) window facing directly to the outdoors which can be easily opened and closed. The size of each window in each bedroom shall be not less than eight (8) square feet and the size of each window in each bathroom and water closet compartment shall be not less than three (3) square feet, unless provided with an automatic exhaust system in accordance with the Borough Plumbing Code.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 182, Plumbing.
G. 
G. There shall be at least one (1) complete bathroom, having a toilet in good working order at all times, a wash basin with adequate running hot and cold water at all times and a tub or shower with adequate hot and cold water at all times, for every eight (8) roomers or fraction thereof; however, there shall be no less than one (1) bathroom on each floor.
[Amended 5-16-77 by Ord. No. 812]
H. 
Neither cooking facilities nor cooking shall be permitted in any sleeping room.
I. 
Clean towels, washcloths and bed linen shall be supplied to each roomer when he first becomes a roomer and at least once a week thereafter. The roomer, however, may, in writing, waive this requirement.
J. 
J. No room above the second floor shall be rented to or occupied by a roomer or roomers unless there is a means of secondary egress separate and removed for the primary means of egress. Said secondary means of egress shall be accessible to said roomer without the necessity of going through any area or door subject to locking by a person other than the roomer. Said secondary means of egress shall be approved by the Fire Chief in accordance with the requirements of the borough's fire prevention codes.
[Added 5-16-77 by Ord. No. 812]
K. 
K. No room shall be rented to or occupied by a roomer or roomers unless the room has one (1) door opening of at least two (2) feet eight (8) inches in width and six (6) feet eight (8) inches in height. No room shall be rented to or occupied by a roomer or roomers unless hallways, stairways or other accessways leading to and from the room shall be at least three (3) feet in width and six (6) feet eight (8) inches in height.
[Added 5-16-77 by Ord. No. 812]
Anything in this chapter to the contrary notwithstanding, no roomers of such rooming house or any other persons shall sleep in shifts or take turns sleeping in the same beds in any sleeping room occupied by or used for roomers. The owner of the premises where such rooming house is operated and the person operating such rooming house shall not permit any roomers or any persons to sleep in shifts or take turns sleeping in the same beds in any sleeping room occupied by or used for roomers.
The owner of said premises and the person operating such rooming house are both charged with the duty to and they shall keep the said premises and rooming house in a clean and sanitary condition and in a good state of repair, free from rodent, bug and insect infestation and free from foul and ill-smelling odors.
Said premises and rooming house shall not be used for illegal or immoral purposes, and the owner of said premises and the person operating such rooming house shall not permit said premises or rooming house to be used for immoral purposes.
No person shall operate a rooming house who has been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude.
No room, other than on the first floor, shall be let or leased to any person who is unable to ascend and descend stairs unassisted, dress and bathe without assistance or leave the premises without assistance, care or supervision.
Every corridor, stairway or hallway on every floor of the premises used for ingress and egress shall be kept adequately lighted by the person operating a rooming house from the time of sunset each evening until the time of sunrise the following day.
The operator of the rooming house shall maintain in such rooming house the names and previous addresses of all persons having or leasing a room, and the names and addresses of the persons who should be notified in cases of emergency, which register shall be readily available at all times for examination by the Building Inspector, Health Officer, Fire Chief and Police Department or their authorized agents.
The Borough Council is hereby authorized, upon the recommendation of the Health Officer, Building Inspector, Fire Chief or Police Chief, to make, by resolution, written rules and regulations for the proper enforcement of the provisions of this chapter. Such rules and regulations shall have the same force and effect as the provisions of this chapter, and the penalty for the violation thereof shall be the same as the penalty for the violation of the provisions of this chapter.
A. 
The regulations as set forth in § 135-10 and the requirement of licensing shall not apply to an apartment building, which shall be defined as a building containing more than two (2) separate apartments, each apartment having a separate and individual bathroom and kitchen and designed for one-family occupancy and containing no dwelling units other than apartments.
B. 
Nothing herein contained shall apply to a hotel or motel as defined by N.J.S.A. 55:13A-1 et seq.
C. 
Nothing herein contained shall be applied so as to permit a rooming house in an apartment building or any part thereof.
Any person violating any of the provisions of this chapter shall, upon conviction thereof, be subject to the payment of a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars ($500) per violation or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding ninety (90) days, or both. Each and every day such violation continues shall be deemed a separate and distinct violation.
This chapter shall take effect on January 1, 1977, except that applications for rooming house licenses shall be submitted to the Borough Clerk not later than October 15, 1976, and except that the provisions of this chapter reasonably necessary to permit submission of the application, necessary inspections and approval of the license application shall take effect immediately upon adoption and publication according to law.
[Added 5-16-77 by Ord. No. 812]
A. 
It shall be the duty of the Building Inspector to enforce this chapter and, pursuant to that duty, to investigate any violation or alleged violation of this chapter coming to his attention, whether by complaint of third persons or from his own personal knowledge or observation. When any building is maintained or used in violation of any provision of this chapter, it shall be the duty of the Building Inspector to proceed with the enforcement of this chapter and the penalties provided for hereunder. He may also, in his discretion, pursue such other statutory method or methods heretofore or hereafter provided, as may be open to him, including institution of appropriate proceedings in Superior or County Court to restrain, enjoin or prohibit violations or threatened violations.
B. 
In enforcement of this chapter, the Building Inspector may apply to the Magistrate of the Borough of Somerville for a warrant or warrants to search and inspect the properties and premises upon which he has reason to believe any violation of this chapter has taken or is taking place; and, upon probable cause shown, the Magistrate may issue such a warrant or warrants, and the information obtained pursuant thereto shall be admissible as evidence in any court of competent jurisdiction for the purpose of proving any case brought for violation of this chapter.