[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Commissioners (now Council) of the Town (now Township) of Montclair 4-15-1980 by Ord. No. 80-12 as Art. I of Ch. 98 of the 1979 Code. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Numbering of buildings — See Ch. 104.
Uniform construction codes — See Ch. 121.
Fire prevention — See Ch. 153.
Health standards — See Ch. 186.
Multifamily buildings — See Ch. 213.
Nuisances — See Ch. 218.
Property maintenance — See Ch. 247.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- Any building or structure or part thereof, whether used for human habitation or otherwise, and includes any outhouses and appurtenances belonging thereto or usually enjoyed therewith.
- HEARING ARBITER
- Such member or members of the governing body of the Township of Montclair (including the Mayor) as shall be designated by the Mayor of the Township of Montclair as his or her agent to conduct the hearing or hearings on a specific complaint filed pursuant to the provisions of this chapter.
- The holder or holders of the title in fee simple.
- PARTIES IN INTEREST
- All individuals, associations and corporations who have interests of record in a building and any who are in actual possession thereof.
- PUBLIC AUTHORITY
- Any housing authority or any officer who is in charge of any department or branch of the government of the Township of Montclair, the County of Essex or the State of New Jersey relating to health, fire, building regulations or to other activities concerning buildings in the Township of Montclair.
- PUBLIC OFFICER
- The officer who is authorized by this chapter to exercise the powers hereinafter prescribed for him or her.
It is hereby found and declared that the existence or occupation of any building or buildings or parts thereof in the Township of Montclair which are so old, dilapidated or have become so out of repair as to be dangerous, unsafe, unsanitary or otherwise unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use is inimical to the welfare and dangerous and injurious to the health and safety of the residents of the Township of Montclair, and that a public necessity exists for the repair, closing or demolition of such building or buildings or parts thereof.
The Mayor of the Township of Montclair hereby is designated as the public officer authorized and empowered to exercise the powers prescribed by this chapter.
The Mayor hereby is authorized 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 powers in addition to those granted elsewhere in this chapter:
To investigate the building conditions in the Township of Montclair in order to determine which buildings are unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use.
To enter upon premises for the purpose of making examinations and inspections, provided that such entries shall be made in such manner as to cause the least possible inconvenience to the persons in possession.
To administer oaths, affirmations, examine witnesses and receive evidence.
To appoint and fix the duties of such officers, agents and employees of the Township of Montclair as he or she deems necessary to carry out the purposes of this chapter.
To delegate any of his or her functions and powers under this chapter to such officers and agents as he or she may designate.
Whenever a petition is filed with the Mayor by a public authority or by at least five residents of the Township of Montclair, charging that any building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, or whenever it appears to the Mayor (on his or her own motion) that any building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, the Mayor shall, if his or her preliminary investigation discloses a basis for such charges, issue and cause to be served upon the owner or 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 Mayor or a hearing arbiter, at a place therein fixed, not less than seven days nor more than 30 days after the service of said complaint, that the owner and parties in interest have the right to file an answer to the complaint at or before the time fixed for the hearing and to appear in person or otherwise and give testimony at such hearing, and that the rules of evidence prevailing in the courts shall not be controlling at such hearing.
[Amended 5-23-2000 by Ord. No. 00-19]
If the hearing is to be held before a hearing arbiter, the Mayor shall inform the person named as hearing arbiter, and such hearing shall be conducted by said hearing arbiter. If for any reason such hearing arbiter shall be unable to conduct said hearing at the time and place set forth in the notice, the hearing may be adjourned from time to time with the consent of the Mayor and the owner and other parties in interest, or the Mayor may himself or herself conduct the hearing or may designate another person as hearing arbiter to conduct the hearing.
After notice and hearing, the Mayor may determine that a building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use if he or she finds that conditions exist in such building which are dangerous or injurious to the health or safety of the occupants of such building, the occupants of neighboring buildings or other residents of the Township of Montclair. Such conditions may include the following (without limiting the generality of the foregoing):
The Mayor or other hearing arbiter may request any public authority, officer or employee of the Township of Montclair to make such investigations and inspections of any building or buildings within the Township of Montclair and to present evidence relating to the condition of such building at any hearing held pursuant to the provisions of this chapter.
Within 30 days after the conclusion of any hearing held by a hearing arbiter other than the Mayor, the hearing arbiter shall prepare a report containing his or her recommended conclusions and order and shall file the original with the Mayor and forthwith submit a copy, either personally or by mail, to such of the owner and parties in interest as appeared or to their attorneys. Within 10 days after the delivery or mailing of the report, any owner or party in interest to whom such report was transmitted may file written exceptions and argument with the Mayor.
The report of the hearing arbiter and the written exceptions and argument, if any, shall be considered by the Mayor before making his or her determination. Such report of the hearing arbiter shall not be binding upon the Mayor, and the Mayor's determination may, in whole or in part, adopt, modify or reject the report; provided, however, that if the Mayor shall change the order recommended, he or she shall not do so without first affording the owner and other parties in interest who have appeared at the hearing an opportunity to present oral argument before the Mayor.
If, after notice and hearing by the Mayor or after notice of hearing and report by a hearing arbiter other than the Mayor as set forth in § 108-5 hereof, the Mayor shall determine that the building under consideration is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, he or she shall state in writing his or her findings of fact in support of such determination and shall issue and cause to be served upon the owner thereof and the parties in interest an order:
Requiring the repair, alteration or improvement of the said 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 said building vacated and closed within the time set forth in the order; and
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 said building within the time specified in the order, then the owner shall be required to remove or demolish the said building within a reasonable time as specified in the said order of removal.
Placarding of unfit building.
If an 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 Mayor may cause such building to be repaired, altered or improved, or to be vacated and closed; and the Mayor may cause to be posted on the main entrance of any building so closed a placard with the words: "This building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use; the use or occupancy of this building is prohibited and unlawful."
Any building which has been so declared and placarded as unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use shall be vacated forthwith, and no person shall thereafter occupy or use, permit, suffer or allow the occupancy or use of such building until such time as the building has been declared fit for human habitation, occupancy and use by the Mayor, in writing. The Mayor shall declare such building fit for human habitation, occupancy and use upon proof that the repairs, alterations and improvements required under the order have been made, and the placard shall thereupon be removed forthwith.
No person shall deface or remove any such placard from any building so declared unfit for human habitation except the Mayor or his or her duly authorized agent.
If the owner of any building fails to comply with an order to remove or demolish the building, the Mayor may cause such building to be removed or demolished or may contract for the removal or demolition thereof after advertisement for and receipt of bids therefor.
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 determined in favor of the Township of Montclair, and the cost of such 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 Mayor, he or she shall sell the materials of such building. 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 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 Tax Assessor or other custodian of the records of tax liens of the Township of Montclair, and a copy thereof shall be forwarded forthwith to the owner by registered mail. If the total of the credits exceeds such costs, the balance remaining shall be deposited in the Superior Court of New Jersey by the Mayor, 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 final order or judgment of such Court. 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 of New Jersey to contest the reasonableness of the amount or the accuracy of the costs set forth in the municipal lien certificate.
Complaints or orders issued by the Mayor pursuant to the provisions of this chapter shall be served upon persons either personally or by registered mail. If, however, the whereabouts of any person is unknown and the same cannot be ascertained by the Mayor in the exercise of reasonable diligence, and the Mayor shall make an affidavit to that effect, then the serving of such complaint or order upon said person may be made by publishing the same once each week two successive weeks in a newspaper printed or published in the Township of Montclair or, in the absence of such newspaper, in a newspaper printed and published in Essex County and circulated in the Township of Montclair.
A copy of such complaint or order shall be posted in a conspicuous place on the premises affected by the complaint or order and shall also be duly recorded or lodged for record with the recording officer of the County of Essex.
This chapter shall not be construed to impair or limit in any way the power of the Township to define and declare public nuisances and to cause their removal or abatement, by summary proceedings or otherwise.
Any person affected by an order issued by the Mayor shall be entitled to the remedies prescribed by Section 6 of Chapter 112 of the Laws of 1942, as amended and supplemented.
Editor's Note: See N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.8.
The Township Council shall prepare an estimate of the annual expenses or costs to provide the equipment, personnel and supplies necessary for periodic examinations and investigations of buildings in , for the purpose of determining the fitness of such buildings for human habitation or occupancy or use and for the enforcement and administration of this chapter. The Council shall make such appropriation from its revenues as it may deem necessary for the purposes of this chapter. The Council may accept or apply grants or donations to assist it in carrying out the provisions of this chapter.
Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to abrogate or impair the powers of any department of the Township to enforce any provisions of its Charter or its ordinances or regulations or to prevent or punish the violation thereof.
[Amended 5-23-2000 by Ord. No. 00-19; 4-10-2007 by Ord. No. 07-17]
Any person who violates any provision of this chapter shall, upon conviction thereof, be punished by a fine not exceeding $2,000, imprisonment in the county/municipal jail for a term not exceeding 90 days, or a period of community service not exceeding 90 days, or any combination thereof as determined by the Municipal Court Judge. Each day on which a violation of an ordinance exists shall be considered a separate and distinct violation and shall be subject to imposition of a separate penalty for each day of the violation as the Municipal Court Judge may determine.