[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Woodbury Heights 10-15-14 as Ord. No. 7-2014. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Editor's Note: Former Chapter 44, Commercial and Residential Lot Maintenance was repealed 8-21-13 by Ord. No. 9-2013.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- The title holder of a residential property, agent of the title holder, or any creditor serving a Summons and Complaint in an action to foreclose on a mortgage as further defined within N.J.S.A. 46:10B-51.
- PUBLIC OFFICER
- The Officer, Officers, body or entity as defined at N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.3, et seq., and to specifically include a Municipal Property Code Officer, or any other person or entity designated by the Borough to enforce its Property Maintenance or Nuisance Abatement Ordinances.
- VACANT AND ABANDONED PROPERTY
- For purposes of this chapter, vacant and abandoned property shall mean residential property that is not occupied by an owner, mortgagor, or a tenant as evidenced by a Lease Agreement, and at least two of the following conditions exist:
- (1) Overgrown or neglected vegetation;
- (2) The accumulation of newspapers, circulars, flyers or mail on the property;
- (3) Disconnected gas, electric or water utility services to the property;
- (4) The accumulation of hazardous, noxious, or unhealthy substances or materials on the property;
- (5) The accumulation of junk, litter, trash or debris on the property;
- (6) The absence of window treatments, such as blinds, curtains or shutters;
- (7) The absence of furnishings and personal items;
- (8) Statements of neighbors, delivery persons, or government employees indicating that the residence is vacant and abandoned;
- (9) Windows or entrances to the property that are boarded up or closed off or multiple window panes that are damaged, broken and unrepaired;
- (10) Doors to the property that are smashed through, broken off, unhinged or continuously unlocked;
- (11) A risk to the health, safety or welfare of the public to any adjoining or adjacent property owners exists due to acts of vandalism, loitering, criminal conduct or the physical destruction or deterioration of the property;
- (12) An uncorrected violation of a Municipal Building Code, Housing Code or a similar Code during the preceding year, or an Order by a municipal authority declaring the property to be unfit for occupancy and to remain vacant and unoccupied;
- (13) 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;
- (14) A written statement issued by any mortgagor expressing the clear intent of all mortgagors to abandon the property;
- (15) Any other reasonable indicia of abandonment.
- (16) A Lis Pendens has been filed against the property by a mortgage lender;[Added 8-19-15 by Ord. No. 9-2015]
- (17) (The property is subject to an ongoing Foreclosure Action by a mortgage lender;[Added 8-19-15 by Ord. No. 9-2015]
- (18) The property has been transferred to a mortgage lender under a Deed In Lieu Of Foreclosure.[Added 8-19-15 by Ord. No. 9-2015]
A Creditor serving a Summons and Complaint in an action to foreclose on a mortgage on residential property shall, within 10 days of serving the Summons and Complaint, notify the Municipal Clerk that an action to foreclose on a mortgage has been filed against the subject property. The Notice shall contain the name and contact information for a representative of the Creditor who is responsible for receiving complaints of property maintenance and Code Violations and shall be provided by mail. Thereupon, the Clerk shall forward a copy of the Notice to the Public Officer, or any other Public Official responsible for the administration of the Borough's Property Maintenance or other Public Nuisance Ordinances. If the property being foreclosed is an affordable unit, as defined within the "Fair Housing Act," P.L.1985, c.222(C. 52:27D-301, et al), then the Creditor shall identify that the property is subject to the "Fair Housing Act." The Notice shall also include the street address, lot and block number of the property, full name and contact information of an individual located within the State who is authorized to accept service on behalf of the Creditor.
Any Creditor that has initiated a foreclosure proceeding on any residential property, which is pending in Superior Court prior to the effective date of this chapter (adopted October 15, 2014), shall provide a listing of all residential properties in the Borough for which the Creditor has foreclosure actions pending by street address and lot and block numbers.
Any Creditor filing a Summons and Complaint in an action to foreclose on residential property shall be responsible for the care, maintenance, security and upkeep of the exterior of the vacant and abandoned residential property and, if such Creditor is located out-of-State, shall be responsible for appointing an in-State representative or agent to act for the foreclosing Creditor. An out-of-State Creditor of a property subject to this chapter which is found by the Municipal Court to be in violation of the requirement to appoint an in-State representative or agent shall be subject to a fine of twenty-five hundred dollars ($2,500.00) for each clay of the violation. Such fines imposed on a Creditor for failure to so appoint an in-State representative or agent shall commence on the first day after the 10 day period required for providing Notice to the Municipal Clerk that a Summons and Complaint in an action to foreclose on a mortgage has been served.
Any Creditor found by the Municipal Court to be in violation of this chapter or any Borough Ordinances requiring the care, maintenance, security or upkeep of a property cited in a Notice issued pursuant to such ordinances shall be subject to a fine of $1,500.00 for each day of the violation. Any fines imposed pursuant to this subsection shall commence on the 31st day following the receipt of the Notice, except if the violation presents an imminent risk to public health and safety, in which case any fines shall commence 11 days following receipt of the Notice.
If the Public Officer or any other local official responsible for administration of the Property Maintenance or Public Nuisance Ordinances of the Borough determines that a Creditor has violated the chapter by failing to provide for the care, maintenance, security or upkeep of the exterior of a property, such Public Officer or other local official responsible for the administration of such ordinances shall cause a Notice of Violation to be issued to the Creditor requiring such 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 a Notice pursuant to this subsection shall constitute proof that a property is "Vacant and Abandoned" for the purposes of P.L. 2012, c.70(C.2A:50-73). Such Notice issued to a Creditor shall include a description of the conditions that gave rise to the violation, and shall provide a period of not less than 30 days from the Creditor's receipt of the Notice for the Creditor to remedy the violation. If the Creditor fails to remedy the violation within that time period, the Borough may impose penalties allowed for the violation of Municipal Ordinances pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:49-5.
If the Borough incurs expenditures of public funds to abate a nuisance or correct violations on residential properties in those situations in which the Creditor was given Notice pursuant to the provisions of this chapter and has failed to abate the nuisance or correct the violation as directed, the Borough shall have the same recourse against the Creditor as it would have against the title owner of the property, including but not limited to the recourse provided under Section 23 of P.L.2003, c.210(C. 55:19-100).
[Added 8-19-15 by Ord. No. 9-2015]
Any mortgagee holding a mortgage on real property located within the Borough shall perform an inspection of the property to determine whether it is vacant or occupied upon default by the mortgagor. The mortgagee shall, within 10 days of the inspection, register the property with the Borough's Code Enforcement Officer, or designee, on forms or website access provided by the municipality, or its designee, 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.
If the property is occupied but remains in default, it shall be inspected by the mortgagee or his designee monthly until (1) the mortgagor or other party remedies the default, or (2) it is found to be vacant or shows evidence of vacancy at which time it is deemed abandoned, and the mortgagee shall, within 10 days of that inspection, update the property registration to a vacancy status on forms provided by the municipality.
Registration pursuant to this section shall contain the name of the mortgagee and the server, the direct mailing address of the mortgagee and the server, a direct contact name and telephone number for both parties, facsimile number and email address for both parties, the folio or tax number, and the name and twenty-four hour contact telephone number of the property management company responsible for the security and maintenance of the property.
A non-refundable, annual registration fee in the amount of $300 per property 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 permitted without the consent of the Borough and/or its 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 or Foreclosure Sale.
Properties subject to this section shall remain under the annual registration requirement and the inspection, security and maintenance standards of this section as long as they remain vacant or in default.
Any person or legal entity that has registered a property under this section must report any change of information contained in the registration within 10 days of any 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 section is a violation of the section and shall be subject to enforcement.
Pursuant to any administrative or judicial finding and determination that any property is in violation of this section, the Borough may take the necessary action to ensure compliance and place a lien on the property for the cost of the work performed to benefit the property and bring it into compliance.
The obligation to register properties deemed vacant or abandoned as hereinabove provided shall be an annual requirement commencing on the date that the property is first registered.
Any creditor or mortgagee which shall fail to register abandoned real property shall be subject to a fine or civil penalty in the sum of $500 for each such violation.