[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Committee (now Township Council) of the Township of Byram 10-2-1974 as Sec. 13-3 of the Revised General Ordinances of 1974. Amendments noted where applicable.]
In accordance with the provisions of N.J.S.A. 40:49-5.1, the New Jersey State Housing Code, as approved by the Departments of Health and Conservation and Economic Development and filed in the Secretary of State's office on January 31, 1962, is hereby adopted as a standard governing supplied utilities and facilities and other physical things and conditions essential to making dwellings safe, sanitary and fit for human habitation, occupancy or use and governing the condition of dwellings. A copy of the New Jersey State Housing Code is attached to and made a part of this section without the text being included herein.
Three copies of the New Jersey State Housing Code have been placed on file in the office of the Clerk and will remain on file there for use and examination by the public.
[Amended 11-19-1990 by Ord. No. 14-1990]
The administrative and enforcing authority for the provisions of this chapter shall be the public officer. As used herein, the term "public officer" shall mean the Township Manager.
This chapter shall constitute the standards to guide the public officer in determining the fitness of any dwelling unit, rooming unit or premises for human habitation, use or occupancy.
The public officer may make rules and regulations which interpret or amplify any provision of this chapter or for the purpose of making the provisions of this chapter more effective. No regulation shall be inconsistent with or alter or amend any provision of this chapter, and no regulation shall impose any requirement which is in addition to or greater than the requirements that are expressly or by implication imposed by any provision of this chapter. Rules and regulations shall be subject to the same penalty as other violations of this chapter.
The public officer or his agents or employees shall make inspections to determine the condition of dwellings, dwelling units, rooming units and premises located within the Township. For the purpose of making inspections, the public officer or his agents are authorized to enter and examine any dwelling, dwelling unit, rooming unit or premises at such reasonable hours as the circumstances of the case permit. This section shall not be construed to prohibit the entry of the public officer or his agents at any time when an actual emergency exists which tends to create a danger to public health or safety or at any time when an inspection is requested by an owner or occupant.
The owner, occupant or person in charge of a dwelling, dwelling unit or rooming unit shall give the public officer or his agents, on their presentation of proper identification, free access to the premises for the purpose of inspection or of making any repairs or alterations which are necessary to effect compliance with this chapter.
The public officer or his agents may, upon affidavit, apply to the Judge of the Municipal Court of the Township 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 chapter exists on the premises; and 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. Search warrants may also be obtained in connection with a general program of inspection.
Whenever the public officer determines that there are reasonable grounds to believe that there has been a violation of any provision of this chapter or of any rule or regulation adopted pursuant thereto, he shall give notice of the alleged violation to the person or persons responsible therefor as hereinafter provided.
The notice shall:
Be put in writing;
Include a statement of the reasons why it is being issued;
Allow a reasonable time for the performance of any act it requires;
Be served upon the owner or his agent, or the occupant, as the case may require, provided that notice shall be deemed to be properly served upon such owner or agent or upon such occupant if a copy thereof is served upon him personally or if a copy thereof is sent by certified mail to his last-known address or if a copy thereof is posted in a conspicuous place in or about the dwelling affected by the notice or if he is served with such notice by any other method authorized or required under the laws of this state.
The notice may contain an outline of remedial action which, if taken, will effect compliance with the provisions of this chapter and with the rules and regulations adopted pursuant thereto.
Any person affected by any notice which has been issued in connection with the enforcement of any provisions of this chapter, or of any rule or regulation adopted pursuant thereto, may request and shall be granted a hearing on the matter before the public officer, provided that such person files in the office of the public officer a written petition requesting a hearing and setting forth a brief statement of the grounds therefor within 10 days after the day the notice is served.
Upon receipt of the petition, the public officer shall set a time and place for the hearing and shall give the petitioner written notice thereof. At the hearing, the petitioner shall be given an opportunity to be heard and to show why the notice should be modified or withdrawn. The hearing shall be commenced not later than 10 days after the day on which the petition is filed, provided that, upon application of the petitioner, the public officer may postpone the date of the hearing for a reasonable time beyond the ten-day period if in his judgment the petitioner has submitted a good and sufficient reason for the postponement. After the hearing, the public officer shall sustain, modify or withdraw the notice, depending upon his findings as to whether the provisions of this chapter and the rules and regulations adopted pursuant thereto have been complied with. If the public officer sustains or modifies the notice, it shall be deemed to be an order. Any notice served pursuant to this chapter shall automatically become an order if a written petition for a hearing is not filed in the office of the public officer within 10 days after notice is served.
The proceedings at the hearing, including the findings and the decision of the public officer, shall be summarized, reduced to writing and entered as a matter of public record in the office of the public officer. The record shall also include a copy of every notice or order issued in connection with the matter. Any person aggrieved by the decision of the public officer may seek relief therefrom in any court of competent jurisdiction, as provided by the laws of the state.
Whenever the public officer finds that an emergency exists which requires immediate action to protect public health or safety, he may, without notice or hearing, issue an order reciting the existence of such an emergency and requiring that such action be taken as he deems necessary to meet the emergency. Notwithstanding the other provisions of this chapter, such order shall be effective immediately. Any person to whom such order is directed shall comply therewith immediately, but upon petition to the public officer shall be afforded a hearing as soon as possible. After such hearing, depending upon his findings as to whether the provisions of this chapter and of the rules and regulations adopted pursuant thereto have been complied with, the public officer shall continue such order in effect or modify or revoke it.
[Amended 11-19-1990 by Ord. No. 14-1990]
Whenever a petition is filed with the public officer 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 defined in the Housing Code or whenever it appears to the public officer on his own motion that any dwelling is unfit for human habitation, he shall, if his preliminary investigation discloses a basis for such charges, issue and cause to be served upon the owner of and parties in interest in such dwelling a complaint stating the charges in that respect and containing a notice that a hearing will be held before the public officer at a place therein fixed not fewer than seven days nor more than 30 days after the serving of the complaint; that 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 complaint; and that the rules of evidence prevailing in courts of law or equity shall not be controlling in hearings before the public officer.
If after notice and hearing as provided above the public officer determines that the dwelling under consideration is unfit for human habitation, as defined in the Housing Code, he shall state in writing his 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 requiring the repair, alteration or improvement of the building to be made by the owner, within a reasonable time, which shall be set forth in the order, or, at the option of the owner, to vacate or to have the building vacated and closed within the time set forth in the order.
If the building is in such 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, that the owner shall remove or demolish the building within a reasonable time as specified in the order of removal.
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 public officer may cause such building to be repaired, altered or improved or to be vacated and closed; the public officer 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."
If the owner fails to comply with an order to remove or demolish the building, the public officer may cause such building to be removed or demolished or may contract for the removal or demolition thereof after advertisement and receipt of bids therefor.
The amount of the cost of the filing of legal papers, expert witnesses' fees, search fees and advertising charges incurred in the course of any proceeding taken under this chapter and determined in favor of the Township and the cost of 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 such building or from any contract for removal or demolition thereof shall be a municipal lien against the real property upon which such cost was incurred.
If the building is removed or demolished by the public officer, he shall sell the materials of such building. There shall be credited against the cost of 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 such 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 forthwith forwarded to the owner by certified mail. If the total of the credits exceeds such costs, the balance remaining shall be deposited in the Superior Court by the public officer, shall be secured in such manner as may be directed by such Court and shall be disbursed, according to the order or judgment of the Court, to the persons found to be entitled thereto by the final order or judgment of such Court; provided, however, that nothing in this chapter 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 30 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.
[Amended 11-19-1990 by Ord. No. 14-1990]
[Amended 11-19-1990 by Ord. No. 14-1990]
Complaints or orders issued by the public officer pursuant to this chapter 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 public officer in the exercise of reasonable diligence, and the public officer shall make an affidavit to that effect, then the serving of the complaint or order upon such persons may be made by publishing the same once in a newspaper having circulation in the Township. A copy of such complaint or order shall be posted in a conspicuous place on the premises affected by the complaint or order, and a copy of such complaint or order shall be duly recorded or lodged for record with the Sussex County recording officer.
The public officer is hereby authorized and empowered to exercise such powers as may be necessary or convenient to carry out and effectuate the purposes and provisions of this chapter, including the following, in addition to others herein granted:
To investigate the dwelling conditions in the Township in order to determine which dwellings therein are unfit for human habitation.
To administer oaths, affirmations, examine witnesses and receive evidence.
To enter upon premises for the purpose of making examination, provided that such entries shall be made in such a manner as to cause the least possible inconvenience to the persons in possession.
To appoint and fix the duties of such officers, agents and employees as he deems necessary to carry out the purpose of this chapter.
To delegate any of his functions and powers under this chapter to such officers and agents as he may designate.