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Township of Lakewood, NJ
Ocean County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[1971 Code § 13-1.1]
Pursuant to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 40:49-5.1 the New Jersey State Housing Code (1980 revision) as approved by the Department of Community Affairs and filed in the Secretary of State's Office is hereby accepted, adopted and established as a standard to be used as a guide in determining the fitness of a building for human habitation, occupancy or use. A copy of the code is annexed to this section and three copies have been placed on file in the office of the Township Clerk and are available to all persons desiring to use and examine the Code.
[1971 Code § 13-1.2; Ord. No. 2003-23]
The Department Head of the Department of Code Enforcement and Zoning or his designee are hereby designated as the officers to exercise the powers prescribed by this section and they shall serve in such capacity without additional salary.
[1971 Code § 13-1.3; Ord. No. 2003-23 § 1]
For the purpose of this section the Department Head of the Department of Code Enforcement and Zoning or his designee may determine that a dwelling is unfit for human habitation if they find that conditions exist in such dwelling which are dangerous or injurious to the health or safety of the occupants of the dwelling, the occupants of neighboring dwellings or other residents of the Township. Conditions may include, without limiting the foregoing, defects increasing the hazards of fire, accident or other calamities; lack of adequate ventilation, light or sanitary facilities; dilapidation; disrepair; structural defects or uncleanliness.
[1971 Code § 13-1.4; Ord. No. 2003-23 § 2]
Whenever a petition is filed with the Department of Code Enforcement and Zoning by a public authority as defined in N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.4, or by at least five residents of the Township charging that any dwelling is unfit for human habitation as herein defined or whenever it appears to the Department Head of the Department of Code Enforcement and Zoning or his designee, on their own motion, that any dwelling is unfit for human habitation, they shall, if preliminary investigation discloses a basis for such charges, issue and cause to be served upon the owner of and parties in interest in the dwelling a complaint stating the charges and containing a notice that a hearing will be held before the Township Committee at a place therein fixed not less than 10 days nor more than 30 days after the serving of the complaint. The owner and parties in interest shall be given the right to file an answer to the complaint and to appear in person or otherwise and give testimony at the time and place fixed in the complaints. The rules of evidence prevailing in courts of law or equity shall not be controlling in hearings before the Township Committee.
If after notice and hearing the Township Committee determines that the dwelling under consideration is unfit for human habitation, it shall state in writing its findings of fact in support of such determination and shall issue and cause to be served upon the owner and parties in interest an order requiring:
a. 
The repair, alteration or improvements of the building to be made by the owner within a reasonable time, which time shall be set forth in the order or at the option of the owner to vacate or have the building vacated and closed within the time set forth in the order.
b. 
If the building is in a condition as to make it dangerous to the health and safety of persons on or near the premises and the owner fails to repair, alter or improve the building within the time specified in the order, then the owner shall remove or demolish the building within a reasonable time as specified in the order of removal.
c. 
If the owner fails to comply with an order to repair, alter or improve or, at the option of the owner, to vacate and close the building, the Township Committee may cause the building to be repaired, altered or improved or to be vacated and closed, that the Department Head of the Department of Code Enforcement and Zoning or his designee, may cause to be posted on the main entrance of any building so closed the following words: "This building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use; the use or occupancy of this building is prohibited and unlawful."
d. 
If the owner fails to comply with an order to remove or demolish the building, the Department Head of the Department of Code Enforcement and Zoning or his designee, at the direction of the Township Committee may cause such building to be removed or demolished or may contract for the removal or demolition of the building after advertisement and receipt of bids therefor.
e. 
The following items shall be a municipal lien against the real property upon which the cost was incurred:
1. 
The cost of the filing of legal papers, expert witness fees, search fees and advertising charges incurred in the course of any proceeding taken under this section upon a finding for the Township.
2. 
The cost of the repairs, alterations or improvements or vacating and closing or removal or demolition, if any, or the amount of the balance remaining after deduction of the sum, if any, realized from the sale of materials derived from the building or from any contract for removal or demolition.
f. 
Upon removal or demolition of the building the materials of the building shall be sold. There shall also be credited against the cost of the removal or demolition thereof, the proceeds of any sale of such materials or any sum derived from any contract for the removal or demolition of the building. If there are no credits or if the sum total of the costs exceeds the total of credits, a detailed statement of the costs and the amount due shall be filed with the Municipal Tax Assessor or other custodian of the records of tax liens and a copy thereof shall be forwarded to the owner by certified mail. If the total of the credits exceed the costs, the balance remaining shall be deposited in the Superior Court by the Department Head of the Department of Code Enforcement and Zoning or his designee, shall be secured in such manner as may be directed by the Court and shall be disbursed according to the order of the Court to the persons found to be entitled thereto by final order of the Court, provided, however, that nothing in this section shall be construed to impair or limit in any way the power of the Township to define and declare nuisances and to cause their removal or abatement by summary proceedings or otherwise. Any owner or party in interest may, within 60 days from the date of the filing of the lien certificate proceed in a summary manner in the Superior Court to contest the reasonableness of the amount or the accuracy of the costs set forth in the municipal lien certificate.
[1971 Code § 13-1.5]
Complaints or orders issued by the Township or the Inspectors shall be served upon persons either personally or by certified mail, but if the whereabouts of the persons is unknown and the same cannot be ascertained by the Township Committee or the Inspectors in the exercise of reasonable diligence, the Township Committee or the Inspectors shall make an affidavit to that effect and then the service of the complaint or order upon such persons may be made by publishing the same once each week for two successive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the Township. A copy of the complaint or order shall be posted in a conspicuous place on the premises affected by the complaint or order and a copy shall be duly recorded or lodged for record with the County Recording Officer.
[1971 Code § 13-1.6; Ord. No. 2003-23 § 3]
The Department Head of the Department of Code Enforcement and Zoning or his designee shall have the following powers to carry out and effectuate the purpose and provisions of this section:
a. 
To investigate the condition of dwellings in the Township to determine which dwellings are unfit for human habitation.
b. 
To administer oaths, affirmations, examine witnesses, and receive evidence.
c. 
To enter upon premises in an unobtrusive manner for the purpose of inspections provided that such entries shall be made in a manner as to cause the least possible inconvenience to the persons in possession.
d. 
To appoint and fix the duties of officers, agents and employees as they deem necessary to carry out the purposes of this section.
e. 
To delegate any functions and powers under this section to such officers and agents as may be lawfully designated.
f. 
Nothing contained herein shall be construed to limit the Department Head of the Department of Code Enforcement and Zoning or his designee's powers as provided by other rules, regulations or statutes.
[1971 Code § 13-1.7; New; Ord. No. 2003-23 § 4]
The Department Head of the Department of Code Enforcement and Zoning or his designee may, upon affidavit, apply to the Judge of the Municipal Court for a search warrant setting forth factually the actual conditions and circumstances that provide a reasonable basis for believing that a nuisance or violation of this section exists on the premises. If the Municipal Judge is satisfied as to the matter set forth in the affidavit, he shall authorize the issuance of a search warrant permitting access to and inspection of that part of the premises on which the nuisance or violation may exist.
[1971 Code § 13-1.8]
No person shall occupy or lease for occupancy, any dwelling unit for the purpose of living therein which does not conform to the provisions of the New Jersey State Housing Code established herein.
[1971 Code § 13-1.8]
Any reinspection of the subject premises necessitated by noncompliance with the provisions of this section or the provisions of the New Jersey State Housing Code shall require payment of a fee of $5 prior to reinspection.
[1971 Code § 13-5.1]
Buildings, walls or structures which are or may become dangerous to property, life or health, or constitute a nuisance, or which are so old, dilapidated or have become so out of repair as to be dangerous, unsafe, unsanitary or otherwise unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use are hereby declared to be inimical to the welfare and dangerous or injurious to the health and safety of the people of the Township. Whenever a finding is made pursuant to the following procedures that any building is unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use, as defined above, power is hereby conferred upon the office or officers hereinafter designated to exercise the police powers of the Township to order repairs, closure, demolition of such building, or parts thereof, in the manner herein provided.
[1971 Code § 13-5.2]
The Township Committee or its lawful designee shall have the authority to exercise the powers prescribed by this section.
[1971 Code § 13-5.3]
As used in this section.
BUILDING
Shall mean any building or structure, or part thereof, whether used for human habitation or otherwise. It shall include any structures appurtenant thereto.
OWNER
Shall mean the record owner of the title to real property as listed on the current tax records of the Township.
PARTIES IN INTEREST
Shall mean all parties who have an interest of record in a building and any parties who are in actual possession thereof.
PUBLIC AUTHORITY
Shall mean any housing authority or any officer or department head overseeing health, fire, building regulations or other activities concerning buildings in the Township.
[1971 Code § 13-5.4]
Whenever a petition is filed with the Township Committee or by at least five residents of the Township charging that any building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use or whenever it appears to the Township Committee, or on its own motion, that any building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, the Township Committee shall, if its preliminary investigation discloses a basis for such charges, issue and cause to be served upon the owner of and parties in interest in such building a complaint stating the charges in that respect and containing a notice that a hearing will be held before the Township Committee at a place therein fixed not less than seven days nor more than 10 days after the serving of the complaint. The owner and parties in interest shall be given the right to file an answer to the complaint and to appear in person, or otherwise, and give testimony at the place and time fixed in the complaint; and that the rules of evidence prevailing in the Courts shall not be controlling in hearings before the Township Committee.
[1971 Code § 13-5.5]
If, after such notice and hearing, the Township Committee determines that the building under consideration is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use it shall state in writing its findings of fact in support of such determination and shall issue and cause to be served upon the owner thereof and parties in interest an order:
a. 
Requiring the repair, alteration or improvement of the building to be made by the owner, within a reasonable time, which time shall be set forth in the order or at the option of the owner to vacate or have the building vacated and closed within the time set forth in the order; and
b. 
If the building is in a condition as to make it dangerous to the health and safety of persons on or near the premises, and the owner fails to repair, alter or improve the building within the time specified in the order, then the owner shall be required to remove or demolish the building within a reasonable time as specified in the order of removal.
c. 
If the owner fails to comply with an order to repair, alter or improve or, at the option of the owner, to vacate and close the building, the Township Committee may cause the building to be repaired, altered or improved, or to be vacated and closed. The Township Committee may cause to be posted on the main entrance of any building so closed, a placard with the following words: "This building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use; the use or occupation of this building is prohibited and unlawful."
d. 
If the owner fails to comply with an order to remove or demolish the building, the Township Committee may cause the building to be removed or demolished or may contract for the removal or demolition thereof after advertisement and receipt of bids therefor.
e. 
The following items shall be a municipal lien against the real property upon which the cost was incurred.
1. 
The cost of the filing of legal papers, expert witness fees, search fees and advertising charges, incurred in the course of any proceeding taken under this section with a finding in favor of the Township, and
2. 
The cost of the repairs, alterations or improvements, or vacating and closing, or removal or demolition, if any, or the amount of the balance thereof remaining after deduction of the sum, if any, realized from the sale of materials derived from the building or from any contract for removal or demolition thereof, shall be a municipal lien against the real property upon which the cost was incurred.
Upon removal or demolition of the building the materials of the building shall be sold. There shall be credited against the cost of the removal or demolition thereof, the proceeds of any sale of such materials or any sum derived from any contract for the removal or demolition of the building. If there are no credits or if the sum total of such costs exceeds the total of such credits, a detailed statement of the aforesaid costs and the amount so due shall be filed with the Municipal Tax Assessor or other custodian of the records of tax liens and a copy thereof shall be forwarded to the owner by certified, regular mail. If the total of the credits exceed the costs, the balance remaining shall be deposited in the Superior Court by the Township Committee, shall be secured in such manner as may be directed by the Court, and shall be disbursed according to the order or judgment of the Court to the persons found to be entitled thereto by final order or judgment of the Court; provided, however, that nothing in this section shall be construed to impair or limit in any way the power of the Township to define and declare nuisances and to cause their removal or abatement, by summary proceedings or otherwise. Any owner or party in interest may, within 60 days from the date of the filing of the lien certificate, proceed in a summary manner in the Superior Court to contest the reasonableness of the amount or the accuracy of the costs set forth in the municipal lien certificate.
f. 
The Township Committee may determine that a building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or if it finds that conditions exist in such building or part thereof which are dangerous or injurious to the health or safety of the occupants of such building or part thereof, the occupants of neighboring buildings or other residents of the Township; such conditions (without limiting the foregoing) therein increasing the hazard of fire, accident or other calamities; lack of adequate ventilation, light or sanitary facilities; dilapidation; disrepair; structural defects; uncleanliness; or that such building or part thereof creates such an unsightly appearance and is in such a poor state of repair as to be detrimental to the health and welfare of the residents of the Township or the occupants of neighboring buildings; or that the building or part thereof contain such a number of violations of the existing ordinances of the Township as to constitute an immediate hazard to the health or safety of the occupants of the building, the occupants of neighboring buildings or other residents of the Township.
[1971 Code § 13-5.6]
Complaints or orders issued by the Township Committee pursuant to this section shall be served upon persons either personally or by certified mail, but if the whereabouts of such persons is unknown and the same cannot be ascertained by the Township Committee in the exercise of reasonable diligence, and the agent of the Township Committee charged with service shall make an affidavit to that effect, then the service of the complaint or order upon such persons may be made by publishing the same once each week for two successive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the Township. A copy of the complaint or order shall be posted in a conspicuous place on premises affected by the complaint or order. A copy of the complaint or order shall be duly recorded or lodged for record with the County Recording Officer. The Township Clerk is hereby designated agent in charge of effecting such service.
[1971 Code § 13-5.7]
Any person aggrieved by an order issued by the Township Committee may, within 60 days after the posting and service of such order, bring an action for injunctive relief to restrain the Township Committee from carrying out the provisions of the order and for any other appropriate relief. The appeal shall be exclusive, and no person affected by an order of the Township Committee shall be entitled to recover any damages for action taken pursuant thereto, or because of noncompliance by any person with any order of the Township Committee.
[1971 Code § 13-5.8]
The Township Committee may exercise such powers as may be necessary or convenient to carry out and effectuate the purposes and provisions of this section, including but not limited to the following powers:
a. 
To investigate the condition of buildings in the Township in order to determine which buildings are unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use.
b. 
To administer oaths, affirmations, examine witnesses, receive evidence and conduct hearings.
c. 
To enter upon premises for the purpose of making inspections in an unobtrusive manner, provided that such entries shall be made in a manner as to cause the least possible inconvenience to the persons in possession.
d. 
To appoint and fix the duties of officers, agents and employees as it deems necessary to carry out the purposes of this section.
e. 
To delegate any of its functions and powers under this section to such officers and agents as may be lawfully designated.