[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Council of the Town of Westerly 8-13-1991 by Ch. No. 983 as §§ 5-51 through 5-74 of the 1991 Code (as amended through Ch. No. 1264). Amendments noted where applicable.]
Building construction — See Ch. 90.
This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the “Westerly Housing Maintenance and Occupancy Code” and is adopted in conjunction with RIGL 45-24.3-1 et seq., entitled “Rhode Island Housing Maintenance and Occupancy Code.”
It is hereby found that there exists and may in the future exist within the Town premises, dwellings, dwelling units, rooming units, structures, or parts thereof, which by reason of their structure, equipment, sanitation, maintenance, use, or occupancy affect or are likely to affect adversely the public health, including the physical, mental, and social well-being of persons and families, safety, and general welfare. To correct and prevent the existence of such adverse conditions, and to achieve and maintain such levels of residential environmental quality as will protect and promote health, safety and general welfare, it is further found that the establishment of minimum housing standards for the Town is required.
It is hereby further found that conditions existing on such blighted premises are dangerous to the public health, safety, morals and general welfare of the people, and that conditions existing on such blighted premises necessitate excessive and disproportionate expenditure of public funds for public health and safety, crime prevention, fire protection, and other public services, and that the conditions existing on such blighted premises cause a drain upon public revenue, impairing the efficient and economical exercise of governmental functions in such areas.
It is hereby further found that the elimination of blighted premises, and the prevention of the recurrence of blighted premises, is in the best interest of the public, and that the accomplishment of this end will be fostered and encouraged by the enactment of this chapter. The enactment and enforcement of this chapter is thereby declared to be essential to the public interest. It is intended that the provisions of this chapter be liberally construed to effectuate its purposes heretofore stated.
The purpose of this chapter shall be to protect the public health, safety and welfare by establishing minimum standards governing the condition and maintenance of all dwellings and dwelling premises or structures; establishing minimum standards governing utilities and facilities and other physical things and conditions essential to make dwellings safe, sanitary and fit for human habitation; fixing certain responsibilities and duties of owners, operators and occupants of dwellings and dwelling premises and structures; and fixing the conditions whereby certain dwellings or structures may be declared unfit for occupancy and condemned for human habitation; and fixing penalties for violations of this chapter.
Every portion of a building or its premises used or intended to be used for the purposes of dwelling, living, eating, sleeping or cooking therein or occupancy shall comply with the provisions of this chapter and with the rules and regulations adopted pursuant thereto irrespective of when such building shall have been constructed, altered or repaired, and irrespective of any permits or licenses which shall have been issued for the use or occupancy of the dwelling and dwelling premises or structure, for the construction or repair of the dwelling or structure or for the installation or repair of dwelling equipment prior to the effective date of the ordinance from which this chapter derives. This chapter establishes minimum standards for the initial and continued occupancy of all dwellings and structures, and does not replace or modify standards otherwise established by the state or a corporate unit for the construction, repair, or use of buildings or the installation of building equipment except as they may be in conflict with the provisions of this chapter as provided by § 145-20.
The following definitions shall apply in the interpretation and enforcement of this chapter:
- ACCESSORY STRUCTURE
- A detached structure which is not used or not intended to be used for living or sleeping by human occupants and which is located on the same premises with a dwelling.
- APPROPRIATE AUTHORITY
- The official department or agency designated by the Town to administer and enforce these regulations pursuant to the provisions of this chapter.
- Approved by the local or state authority having such administrative authority.
- The residue from the burning of combustible materials (and the noncombustible portion of refuse loaded into an incinerator).
- A portion of the building partly underground, but having less than half its clear height below the average grade of the adjoining ground.
- The portion of the building partly underground, having half or more than half of its clear height below the average grade of the adjoining ground.
- CENTRAL HEATING SYSTEM
- A single system supplying heat to one or more dwelling units or more than one rooming unit.
- CORPORATE UNIT
- The Town of Westerly, Rhode Island.
- A room or group of rooms in a dwelling used for living and sleeping purposes by four or more persons.
- Any enclosed space which is wholly or partly used or intended to be used for living or sleeping by human occupants, provided that temporary housing, as hereinafter defined, shall not be regarded as a dwelling.
- DWELLING UNITS
- Any room or group of rooms located within a dwelling and forming a single habitable unit with facilities which are unused or intended to be used for living, sleeping, cooking and eating.
- ENFORCING OFFICER
- The official charged with the administration and enforcement of this chapter or his authorized representative.
- The control and elimination of insects, rodents or other pests by eliminating their harborages, by removing, or making inaccessible, materials that may serve as their food; by poisoning, spraying, fumigating, trapping, or by any other recognized and legal pest elimination methods approved by the health officer.
- One adult person plus one or more persons who are legally related to said person and residing in the same dwelling unit with said person.
- The animal and vegetable waste resulting from the handling, preparation, cooking, serving, and nonconsumption of food.
- Any person who shares a dwelling unit in a nonconsumption of food.
- HABITABLE ROOM
- A room or enclosed floor space used or intended to be used for living, sleeping, cooking, or eating purposes, excluding bathrooms, water closet compartments, laundries, furnace rooms, pantries, kitchenettes and utility rooms of less than 50 square feet, foyers or communicating corridors, stairways, closets, storage spaces and workshops, hobby and recreation areas in unsealed or uninsulated parts of a structure below ground level or in attics.
- HEALTH OFFICER
- The legally designated director of health of this state, or his authorized representative.
- HEATED WATER
- Water heated to a temperature of not less than 120° Fahrenheit.
- A family or one or more unrelated persons, including servants and not more than two boarders, who share the same dwelling and use some or all of its cooking and eating facilities.
- The presence within or around a dwelling or other structure in large numbers of insects, rodents or other pests.
- Any room containing any or all of the following equipment, or area of a room within three feet of such equipment: sink, or other device for dish washing, stove or other device for cooking, refrigerator or other device for cool storage of food.
- LEAD PAINT
- Any pigmented, liquid substances applied to surfaces by brush, roller or spray in which the total nonvolatile ingredients contain more than 1% of lead, by weight, calculated as metallic lead.
- MULTIPLE DWELLING
- Any dwelling containing four or more dwelling units.
- Any person, over one year of age, living, sleeping, cooking or eating in, or actually having possession of, a dwelling unit or a rooming unit, or structure except that in dwelling units, a guest will not be considered an occupant.
- Any person who has charge, care or control of a building, or part thereof, in which dwelling units or rooming units are let.
- Any person who, alone or jointly or severally with others:
- (1) Shall have legal title to any dwelling, dwelling unit or structure without accompanying actual possession thereof; or
- (2) Shall have charge, care or control of any dwelling, dwelling unit or structure as owner or agent of the owner, or an executor, administrator, trustee, or guardian of the estate of the owner, any such person, thus representing the actual owner, shall be bound to comply with the provisions of this chapter and of rules and regulations adopted pursuant thereto to the same extent as if he were the owner.
- PERMISSIBLE OCCUPANCY
- The maximum number of persons permitted as family or household to reside in a dwelling unit or rooming unit based on the square feet per person in habitable rooms.
- Includes all of the following supplied facilities and equipment: gas pipes, gas burning equipment, waste pipes, garbage disposal units, water closets, sinks, installed dishwashers, lavatories, bathtubs, shower baths, installed clothes washing machines, catch basins, drains, vents and any other similar supplied fixtures, together with all connections to water, sewer, septic tank or gas lines.
- POTENTIAL HAZARDOUS MATERIAL
- Any material, including building material containing lead or other toxic heavy-metal compound in concentrations dangerous to the public health as deemed by the Department of Health of this state.
- A platted lot or part thereof or unplatted lot or parcel of land, or plot of land, either occupied or unoccupied by any dwelling or nondwelling structure, and includes any such building, accessory structure or other structure thereon.
- The ability of a person to carry out an activity commenced without interruption or interference, either by sight or sound, by unwanted persons.
- All putrescible and nonputrescible solids (except body wastes) including garbage, rubbish, ashes and dead animals.
- REFUSE CONTAINERS
- A container of impervious material with a lid which shall lock or snap into place so as to render the material therein contained harmless from intrusion of animals, fowl and all other intrusions from whatever source.
- ROOMING HOUSE
- Any dwelling or that part of any dwelling containing three or more rooming units in which space is occupied by three or more persons who are not members of a single family.
- ROOMING UNIT
- Any room or group of rooms forming a single habitable unit used or intended to be used for living and sleeping, but not for cooking or eating purposes.
- Nonputrescible solid wastes (excluding ashes) consisting of both:
- The condition of being free from danger and hazards which may cause accidents or disease.
- SEPTIC TANK
- A receptacle, usually underground, to which sewage is drained and retained to effect disintegration of the organic matter by bacteria.
- SPACE HEATER
- A self-contained, automatically controlled, vented, fuel-burning appliance of either the circulating type or the radiant type.
- All structures used or intended to be used for commercial, business or industrial use or occupancy.
- Paid for, furnished, provided by, or under the control of the owner or operator.
- TEMPORARY HOUSING
- Any tent, trailer, mobile home, or any other structure used for human shelter which is designed to be transportable and is not attached to the ground, to another structure, or to any utility system on the same premises for more than 30 consecutive days.
Meaning of certain words. Wherever the words “dwelling,” “dwelling unit,” “rooming house,” “rooming unit,” “premises” and “structure” are used in this chapter, they shall be construed as though they were followed by the words “or a part thereof.” Words used in the singular include the plural, and the plural the singular; the masculine gender includes the feminine, and the feminine the masculine.
No owner or operator or other person shall occupy, or let to another person, any vacant dwelling, dwelling unit or structure unless it and the premises are clean, sanitary, fit for human occupancy, and comply with this chapter and all applicable legal requirements of the state and the corporate unit.
Every owner of a multiple dwelling shall be responsible for maintaining in a clean and sanitary condition the shared or public areas of the dwelling and premises thereof. Occupants of two- and three-family dwellings shall share the maintenance of clean and sanitary conditions within the shared or public areas of the dwelling and premises thereof.
Every occupant of a dwelling, dwelling unit or structure shall maintain in a clean and sanitary condition that part or those parts of the dwelling, dwelling unit or structure and premises thereof that he occupies and controls.
Every owner or occupant of a dwelling, dwelling unit or structure shall dispose of all his rubbish in a clean, sanitary and safe manner. Every occupant of a dwelling, dwelling unit or structure shall dispose of all his garbage and any other organic waste which might provide food for insects or rodents in a clean, sanitary and safe manner, and if a container is used for storage pending collection, it shall be rodentproof, insectproof and watertight.
In the event that an owner or occupant of a dwelling, dwelling unit, or structure allows rubbish, garbage, refuse, or other organic waste to accumulate in such a manner that, in the opinion of the Minimum Housing Director, a potential health hazard occurs, he shall deem this an emergency situation and the Town shall be empowered to remove such hazard by using its own personnel or by contracting a private firm to make such removal before issuing a summons and complaint for a Municipal Court appearance. The costs of such removal shall be the responsibility of the occupant and/or owner by remuneration to the Town within 15 days of removal. In the absence of such remuneration within the prescribed time, the Town shall place a lien on the subject property.
Every owner or operator of a dwelling containing four or more dwelling units shall supply facilities or containers for the sanitary and safe storage or disposal of rubbish and garbage. In the case of single, two- and three-family dwellings and structures, it shall be the responsibility of the occupant to furnish such facilities or refuse containers. In the absence of such storage facilities, an occupant may properly store indoors any garbage or refuse that may be contained in sealed plastic garbage bags or bags of similar material while awaiting pickup of such garbage and refuse. This indoor containment must be done in a safe and sanitary manner.
The owner of a dwelling, dwelling unit or structure shall be responsible for providing and hanging all screens and double or storm doors and windows where used for ventilation whenever the same are required under the provisions of this chapter or any rule or regulation adopted pursuant thereto, except where there is a written agreement, maintenance or replacement of screens, storm doors and windows, once installed in any one season, become the responsibility of the occupant.
The owner of a dwelling or dwelling unit shall be responsible for providing and hanging of shades or other devices on every window of every room used for sleeping and for every room equipped with a flush water closet or bathtub, affording privacy to persons within the rooms. Once installed in any one rental by the owner, replacements become the responsibility of the occupant.
Every occupant of a dwelling containing a single dwelling unit and every occupant of a structure shall be responsible for the extermination of any insects, rodents, or other pests therein or on the premises; and every occupant of a dwelling unit, in a dwelling containing more than one dwelling unit, shall be responsible for such extermination whenever his dwelling is the only one infested. Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of this section, whenever infestation is caused by failure of the owner to maintain a dwelling in a rodentproof or reasonably insectproof condition, extermination shall be the responsibility of the owner. Whenever infestation exists in two or more of the dwelling units in any dwelling, or in the shared or public parts of any dwelling containing two or more dwelling units, extermination thereof shall be the responsibility of the owner.
Every occupant of a dwelling unit or structure shall keep all supplied plumbing fixtures and facilities therein in a clean, sanitary condition, and shall be responsible for the exercise of reasonable care in the proper use and operation thereof.
No owner or occupant of a dwelling, dwelling unit or structure shall accumulate or permit the accumulation of rubbish, boxes, lumber, scrap metal, or any other materials in such a manner that may provide a rodent harborage in or about any dwelling, dwelling unit or structure. Stored materials shall be stacked neatly in piles elevated at least 18 inches above the ground or floor.
No person shall occupy as owner, occupant, or let to another for occupancy, any dwelling or dwelling unit for the purposes of living, sleeping, cooking or eating therein, which does not comply with the following requirements:
Every dwelling unit shall have a room or portion of a room in which food may be prepared or cooked, which shall have an adequate circulation area and which shall be equipped with the following:
A kitchen sink in good working condition and properly connected to a water supply system which is approved by the appropriate authority, and which provides at all times an adequate amount of heated and unheated running water under pressure, and which is connected to a sewerage system or septic tank which is approved by the appropriate authority.
Cabinet or shelves for the storage of eating and drinking and cooking equipment and utensils, and of food that does not, under ordinary maximum summer conditions, require refrigeration for safekeeping and a counter or table for food preparation; said cabinets or shelves shall be adequate for the permissible occupancy of the dwelling unit and shall be of sound construction finished with surfaces that are easily cleanable and that will not impart any toxic or deleterious effect to food.
A stove or similar device for cooking food and a refrigerator or similar device for the safe storage of food at temperatures less than 50° Fahrenheit, but more than 32° Fahrenheit, under ordinary maximum summer conditions, which are properly installed with all necessary connections for safe, sanitary and efficient operation, provided that such stove, refrigerator, or similar devices, need not be installed when a dwelling unit is not occupied and when the occupant is expected to provide same on occupancy, and that sufficient space and adequate connections for the safe and efficient installation and operation of the stove, refrigerator or similar devices is provided.
Within every dwelling unit, there shall be a nonhabitable room which is equipped with a flush water closet and lavatory basin in good working condition. Such flush water closet shall be equipped with easily cleanable surfaces, be connected to a water system that at all times provides an adequate amount of running water under pressure so as to cause the water closet to be operated properly, and shall be connected to a sewerage system or septic tank which is approved by the appropriate authority, and such lavatory basin shall be equipped with easily cleanable surfaces and be in good working condition and properly connected to an approved water supply system and which provides adequate heated and unheated running water under pressure at all times and connected to a sewer or septic system approved by the appropriate authority.
Within every dwelling unit, there shall be a room which affords privacy to a person within such room and which is equipped with a bathtub or shower in good working condition. The bathtub or shower may be in the same room as the flush water closet or in another nonhabitable room and shall be properly connected to a water supply system which is approved by the appropriate authority and which provides at all times an adequate amount of heated and unheated running water under pressure, and which is connected to a sewerage system or septic tank which is approved by the appropriate authority.
Every dwelling unit above the first floor shall have approved dual means of egress, with minimum head room of six feet six inches, leading to safe and open space at ground level. Every dwelling unit in a multiple dwelling shall have immediate access to two or more approved means of egress, one of which will have minimum head room of six feet, six inches, leading to safe and open space at ground level, or as required by the laws of this state and the appropriate authority.
No person shall occupy as owner, occupant, or let to another for occupancy, any dwelling or dwelling unit, for the purpose of living therein, which does not comply with the following requirements:
Every habitable room shall have at least one window or skylight facing directly outdoors (provided that if connected to a room or area used seasonally, e.g., a porch, then adequate daylight must be passable through this interconnection). The minimum total window area, measured between stops, for every habitable room shall not be less than 10% of the floor area of such room. Wherever walls, or other portions of structures, face a window of any such room, and such light-obstructing structures are located less than three feet from the window and extend to a level above that of the ceiling of the room, such window shall not be deemed to face directly to the outdoors and shall not be included as contributing to the required minimum total window area. Whenever the only window in a room is a skylight-type window in the top of such room, the total window area of such skylight shall equal at least 10% of the total floor area of such room. Each window shall be not less than three square feet in area.
Every habitable room shall have at least one window or skylight facing directly outdoors which can be easily opened, or such other device as will adequately ventilate the room, provided that if connected to a room or area used seasonally, then adequate ventilation must be possible through this interconnection. The total of openable window area in every habitable room shall be equal to at least 50% of the minimum window area size, or minimum skylight-type window size, as required in this section, except where there is supplied some other device affording adequate ventilation and approved by the appropriate authority.
Every bathroom and water closet compartment and nonhabitable room used for food preparation shall comply with the light and ventilation requirements for habitable rooms contained in this section, except that no window or skylight shall be required in adequately ventilated bathrooms and water closet compartments equipped with a ventilation system which is approved by the appropriate authority.
Where there is usable electric service available from power lines, which are not more than 300 feet away from a dwelling, every dwelling unit, and all public and common areas, shall be supplied with electric service. Outlets and fixtures which shall be properly installed, shall be maintained in good and safe working condition, and shall be connected to the source of electric power in a manner prescribed by the ordinances, rules and regulations of the corporate unit. The minimum capacity of such services, and the minimum number of outlets and fixtures, shall be as follows:
Every habitable room shall have an electric service and outlets or fixtures capable of providing at least three watts per square foot of floor area.
Every habitable room and nonhabitable room used for food preparation shall have at least one floor- or wall-type electric convenience outlet for each 60 square feet, or fraction thereof, of floor area, and in no case fewer than two outlets.
Every water closet compartment, bathroom and kitchen or kitchenette, laundry room, furnace room, and public hall shall contain at least one supplied ceiling, or wall-type electric light fixture.
Convenient switches or equivalent devices for turning on one light in each room or passageway shall be located so as to permit the area ahead to be lighted.
Every public hall and stairway in every multiple dwelling shall be adequately lighted by natural or electric light at all times so as to provide in all parts thereof at least six footcandles of light at the tread or floor level. Every public hall and stairway in structures containing not more than three dwelling units may be supplied with conveniently located light switches, controlling an adequate lighting system which may be turned on when needed, instead of full-time lighting.
No person shall occupy as owner, occupant, or let to another for occupancy, any dwelling or dwelling unit, for the purposes of living therein, which does not comply with the following requirements:
Every dwelling shall have heating facilities which are properly installed and are maintained in safe and working condition, and are capable of safely and adequately heating all habitable rooms, bathrooms and water closet compartments in every dwelling unit located therein at a distance of 18 inches above the floor level under average winter conditions to a temperature of at least 68° Fahrenheit.
Unvented flame space heaters are prohibited. No owner or occupant shall install, operate or use a space heater employing a flame that is not vented outside the structure in an approved manner. Portable electric heaters, approved under the appropriate local or state electrical or fire prevention code, are acceptable where they meet the above provisions of this section.
No person shall occupy as owner, occupant, or let to another for occupancy, any dwelling or dwelling unit, for the purpose of living therein, which does not comply with the following requirements:
Every foundation, floor, roof, ceiling, exterior and interior wall shall be reasonably weathertight, watertight and damp-free, and shall be kept in sound condition and good repair. Floors, interior walls, and ceilings shall be sound and in good repair. All exterior wood surfaces, other than decay-resistant woods, shall be protected from the elements and decay by paint or other protective covering or treatment. Toxic paint and materials will not be used where readily accessible to children. Walls shall be capable of affording privacy for the occupants. All premises shall be graded, drained, free of standing water, and maintained in a clean, sanitary and safe condition.
Lead paint or potentially hazardous material on the interior surfaces of any dwelling unit, rooming house, rooming unit or facility occupied by children is prohibited. Such interior surfaces include but are not limited to window sills, window frames, doors, door frames, walls, ceilings, stair-rails and spindles or other appurtenances.
In each instance where the interior surfaces exhibit a condition of loose, flaking, chipping or falling paint, and there is reason to believe that the presence of lead paint or toxic material exists as a potential hazard, the enforcing officer shall take samples in a manner prescribed by the appropriate authority and submit such samples for analysis to the Department of Health of this state.
During the portion of the year when there is a need for protection against mosquitoes, flies and other flying insects, every door opening directly from a dwelling unit to outside space shall have supplied properly fitting screens having at least 16 mesh and a self-closing device; and every window, door or other device with openings to outdoor space, used or intended to be used for ventilation, shall be supplied with screens.
Every window located at or near ground level, used or intended to be used for ventilation, and every other opening located at or near ground level which might provide an entry for rodents, shall be supplied with adequate screens or such other devices as will effectively prevent their entrance.
Every dwelling or accessory structure and the premises upon which located shall be rodentproofed and maintained so as to prevent rodent harborage.
All openings in the exterior walls, foundations, basements, ground or first floors and roofs which have a one-half-inch diameter or more opening shall be ratproofed in an approved manner if they are within 48 inches of the existing exterior ground level immediately below such openings, or if they may be reached by rats from the ground by climbing unguarded pipes, wires, cornices, stairs, roofs and other items such as trees or vines or by burrowing.
Skirting, lattice or other nonratproofed enclosure creating a possible rat harborage under a porch or any portions of a building shall be ratproofed at all locations where a rat could find, burrow, or gnaw an access opening.
In the event that occupancy usages would result in stacking or piling materials, the materials shall be so arranged as to prohibit the creation of a harborage area. This can be accomplished by orderly stacking and elevating so that there will be a twelve-inch opening between the material and the ground level. No stacking or piling of material shall take place against the exterior walls of the structure.
All doors, including swinging, sliding and folding types, shall be constructed so that the space between the lower edge of the door and the threshold shall not exceed 3/8 inch; provided further that the space between sections of folding and sliding doors when closed shall not exceed 3/8 inch.
Interior floors of basements, cellars and other areas in contact with the soil shall be paved with concrete or other rat-impervious material.
Any material used for rodent control shall be acceptable to the appropriate authority.
All fences provided by the owner or agent on the premises or all fences erected or caused to be erected by an occupant shall be constructed of manufactured metal fencing material, wood, masonry, or other inert material. Such fences shall be maintained in good condition. Wood materials shall be protected against decay by use of paint or other preservative. The permissible height and other characteristics of all fences shall conform to the appropriate statutes, ordinances, and regulations of this state and the corporate unit. Wherever any egress from the dwelling opens into the fenced area, there shall be a means of egress from the premises to any public way adjacent thereto.
Accessory structures present or provided by the owner, agency, or tenant occupant on the premises shall be structurally sound and be maintained in good repair and free from insects and rodents, or such structure shall be removed from the premises. The exterior of such structures shall be made weather-resistant through the use of decay-resistant materials or the use of paint or other preservatives.
Every plumbing fixture and all water and waste pipes shall be properly installed and maintained in good sanitary working condition.
No owner, operator or occupant shall cause any service, facility, equipment or utility which is required under this chapter to be removed from, or shut off from, or discontinued for any occupied dwelling or dwelling unit let or occupied by him, except for such temporary interruption as may be necessary while actual repairs or alterations are in process, or during temporary emergencies when discontinuance of service is approved by the appropriate authority.
All construction and materials, ways and means of egress, and all installation and use of equipment shall conform to applicable state and local laws dealing with fire protection.
Windows or doors on any residential structure may be boarded up as a temporary security measure by the owner of said residential property, provided the broken or inoperable door or window will be replaced within six months of the opening having been boarded up. The property owner will be subject to a fine of $25 per day for any boarded up window or door which is not replaced within six months of the opening having been boarded up. The initial six-month period can be extended with the written permission of the Minimum Housing Official for an additional period not to exceed six months.
[Added 8-9-2005 by Ch. No. 1550]
No person shall occupy, or let to be occupied, any dwelling or dwelling unit, for the purpose of living therein, unless there is compliance with the following requirements:
Every dwelling unit shall contain at least 160 square feet of floor space for the first occupant thereof, and at least 100 square feet of floor space for every additional occupant thereof, the floor space to be calculated on the basis of total habitable room space.
In every dwelling unit for two or more rooms, every room occupied for sleeping purposes shall contain at least 70 square feet of floor space for the first occupant, and at least 40 square feet of floor space for each additional occupant thereof.
A bathroom or water closet compartment shall not be used as the only passageway to any habitable room, hall, basement or cellar or to the exterior of a dwelling unit.
At least 75% of the floor area of every habitable room shall have a ceiling height of no less than seven feet and the floor area of that part of any room, where the ceiling height is less than five feet, shall not be considered as part of the floor area of the room for the purpose of determining the maximum permissible occupancy thereof. At least 50% of the floor area in attic rooms shall have a ceiling height of seven feet.
No space, located totally or partially below grade, shall be used as a habitable room or dwelling unit unless:
The floor, and those portions of the walls below grade, are of waterproof and dampproof construction.
The minimum window area, required in § 145-8, is located entirely above grade of the ground adjoining such window area or, if windows are located wholly or partly below grade, that there be constructed a properly drained widow well whose ground open area shall be equal to, or greater than, the area of the window opening; the bottom of the window well shall be below the top of the impervious masonry construction under this window; and the minimum horizontal projections of the bottom of the window well shall be equal to or greater than the vertical dimensions (depth) of the window well as measured from the bottom of the masonry opening for the window, and no part of the window well opposite this window shall protrude above the line projected at a forty-five-degree angle from the bottom of the window opening at right angles to the outer wall.
The total openable window area in each room is equal to at least the minimum, as required under this chapter, except where there is supplied some other device affording adequate ventilation and humidity control and approved by the appropriate authority.
There are no pipes, ducts, or other obstructions, less than six feet above the floor level which interfere with the normal use of the room or area.
Every dwelling unit shall have at least four square feet of floor-to-ceiling height closet space, for the personal effects of each permissible occupant. If it is lacking in whole or in part, an amount of space, equal in square footage to the deficiency, shall be subtracted from the area of habitable room space used in determining permissible occupancy.
A dwelling unit shall not be occupied by more than one family plus two occupants unrelated to the family, except for guests or domestic employees or by not more than one household if the occupants are unrelated, unless a permit for a rooming house has been granted by the appropriate authority.
Each dwelling shall have a suitable facility for the safe storage of medicines, toxic materials and household poisons, such as ammonia, paint, gasoline, etc., to ensure safety for children in the residential environment.
No person shall operate a rooming house, or shall occupy, or let to another for occupancy, any rooming house except in compliance with the provisions of §§ 145-6, 145-7 and 145-11E(1) through (4). No owner or other person shall occupy, or let to another person, any vacant rooming unit unless it is clean, sanitary and fit for human occupancy, and in compliance with all applicable requirements of this state and of the corporate unit.
No person shall operate a rooming house unless he holds a valid rooming house permit issued by the appropriate authority in the name of the operator and for the specific dwelling or dwelling unit specified therein. The operator shall apply to the appropriate authority for such permit, which shall be issued only after it has been determined that the rooming house is in compliance with the applicable provisions of this chapter and with any rules and regulations adopted pursuant thereto. This permit shall be displayed in a conspicuous place within the rooming house at all times. No such permit shall be transferable. Every person holding such permit shall give notice in writing to the appropriate authority within 24 hours after having sold, transferred, given away or otherwise disposed of ownership of, interest in, or control of any rooming house. Such notice shall include the name and address of the person succeeding to the ownership or control of such rooming house. Every rooming house permit shall expire at the end of the year of license following its date of issuance, unless sooner suspended or revoked as hereinafter provided.
At least one flush water closet, lavatory basin and bathtub or shower, properly connected to a water and sewerage system or septic tank, approved by the health officer and in good working condition, shall be supplied for each six persons, or fraction thereof, residing within a rooming house, including members of the operator’s family wherever they share the use of the facilities, provided that:
In a rooming house where rooms are let only to males, flush urinals may be substituted for not more than 1/2 the required number of water closets.
All such facilities shall be so located within the dwelling as to be reasonably accessible from a common hall or passageway to all persons sharing such facilities.
Every lavatory basin and bathtub or shower shall be supplied with heated and unheated water under pressure at all times.
No such facilities shall be located in a basement, except by written approval of the appropriate authority.
Cooking in a rooming unit shall be prohibited unless utilities are installed therein in accordance with applicable local and state law.
Communal cooking and dining facilities in a rooming house shall be prohibited, except as approved by the enforcing officer in writing.
Rooming unit doors shall have operating locks to ensure privacy.
Every room occupied for sleeping purposes by one person shall contain at least 80 square feet of floor space, and every room occupied for sleeping by more than one person shall contain at least 60 square feet of floor space for each occupant thereof, and every such room shall also contain at least four square feet of closet space per occupant with at least an unobstructed height of five feet. If it is lacking in whole or in part, an amount of space, equal in square footage to the deficiency, shall be subtracted from the area of habitable room space used in determining permissible occupancy.
Every rooming unit above the first floor shall have immediate access to two or more safe, unobstructed means of egress, appropriately marked, one of which will have a minimum head room of six feet six inches, leading to a safe and open space at ground level, as required by the appropriate statutes, ordinances, and regulations of this state and of the corporate unit.
Structurally sound handrails shall be provided on any steps containing five risers or more. If steps are not enclosed, handrails and balusters spaced no more than six inches apart shall be provided. Porches or balconies located more than three feet higher than the adjacent areas shall have structurally sound protective handrails 30 inches to 36 inches high, and if unenclosed, balusters spaced no more than six inches apart shall also be provided. Alternate systems providing at least the same degree of safety, if approved by the appropriate authority, will be accepted.
Access to or egress from each rooming unit shall be provided without passing through any other rooming unit, dwelling unit or bathroom.
No person shall occupy as owner, occupant or let to another for occupancy any vacant dwelling or nonresidential structure unless it and the premises are clean, sanitary, fit for human occupancy, and comply with §§ 145-6, 145-9 and 145-10 and §§ 145-14 through 145-23 and all applicable legal requirements of the state and the corporate unit.
The enforcing officer is hereby authorized and directed to develop and adopt plans for the inspection of dwelling units subject to the provisions of this chapter, including a plan for the systematic inspection of dwelling units contained in such contiguous areas within the corporate unit as may from time to time be designated by the enforcing officer. Before making inspections within a contiguous area pursuant to a plan authorized in this section, the enforcing officer shall advise the organization which represents the property owners and other residents of such contiguous area, if any such organization exists.
The enforcing officer shall enforce the provisions of this chapter and is hereby authorized and directed to make inspections pursuant to one or more of the plans for inspection authorized by § 145-14; or in response to a complaint that an alleged violation of the provisions of this chapter or of applicable rules or regulations pursuant thereto may exist; or when the enforcing officer has valid reason to believe that a violation of this chapter or any rules and regulations pursuant thereto has been or is being committed.
The enforcing officer is hereby authorized to enter and inspect between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. all dwellings, dwelling units, rooming houses, rooming units, dormitory rooms, and structures subject to this chapter, for the purpose of determining whether there is compliance with its provisions.
The enforcing officer is hereby authorized to inspect the premises surrounding dwellings, dwelling units, rooming houses, rooming units, dormitory rooms, and structures subject to this chapter, for the purpose of determining whether there is compliance with its provisions.
The enforcing officer and the owner, occupant or other person in charge of a dwelling, dwelling unit, rooming unit, rooming house, dormitory room, or structure subject to this chapter may agree to an inspection by appointment at a time other than the hours provided in this section.
The owner, occupant or other person in charge of a dwelling, dwelling unit, rooming unit, rooming house, dormitory room or structure upon presentation of proper identification by the enforcing officer, a copy of any relevant plan of inspection pursuant to which entry is sought, and a schedule of the specific areas and facilities to be inspected shall give the enforcing officer entry and free access to every part of the dwelling, dwelling unit, rooming unit or dormitory room, or structure to the premises surrounding any of these.
The enforcing officer shall keep confidential all evidence and information not related to the purposes of this chapter which he may discover or obtain in the course of an inspection made pursuant to this section and such evidence shall be considered privileged. Evidence so obtained shall not be disclosed, except as may be necessary in the judgment of the enforcing officer for the proper and effective administration and enforcement of the provisions of this chapter and rules and regulations issued pursuant thereto, and shall not otherwise be admissible in any judicial proceeding without the consent of the owner, occupant, or other person in charge of the dwelling unit or rooming unit, or structure inspected.
If any owner, occupant, or other person in charge of a dwelling, dwelling unit or rooming unit, or of a multiple dwelling or a rooming house or structure, fails or refuses to permit free access and entry to the structure or premises under his control, or any part thereof, with respect to which an inspection authorized by this chapter is sought to be made, the enforcing officer may, upon a showing that probable cause exists for the inspection and for the issuance of an order directing compliance with the inspection requirements of this section with respect to such dwelling, dwelling unit, rooming unit, multiple dwelling, or rooming house or structure petition, obtain such order from a court of competent jurisdiction.
Any person who refuses to comply with an order issued pursuant to this section shall be subject to such penalties as may be authorized by law for violation of a court order.
The enforcing officer shall have the right to prosecute for any violation of this chapter as provided by law, and is hereby authorized to sign all warrants, with the exception of search warrants, for the violation of laws, rules and regulations relating to this chapter and to serve subpoenas issued for the trial of all offenses against the laws, rules and regulations relating to this chapter.
The corporate unit is hereby authorized to make, adopt, revise and amend such rules and regulations as it deems necessary for the carrying out of the purposes of this chapter.
The corporate unit will further provide for the creation and establishment of such divisions, offices, departments, bureaus and agencies and their respective officers, deputies and agents as may be required to enforce and administer the powers and duties authorized by this chapter.
[Amended 7-9-2018 by Ch. No. 1928]
The Town Council will provide for the selection and organization of a Housing Board of Review consisting of three members. The Chairman of the Housing Board of Review or, in his absence, the Acting Chairman, may administer oaths and compel the attendance of witnesses. All hearings of such Board shall be open to the public.
The Board shall keep minutes of its proceedings, showing the vote upon each question, and shall keep records of its decisions and findings and the reasons therefor, and of its examinations and other official actions, all of which shall be filed immediately in the office of the Board and shall be a public record.
Whenever the enforcing officer determines that any dwelling, dwelling unit, rooming unit or structure, or the premises surrounding any of these, fails to meet the requirements set forth in this chapter or in applicable rules and regulations issued pursuant thereto, he shall issue a notice setting forth the alleged failures, and advising the owner, occupant, operator or agent that the failures must be corrected.
The notice required by this section shall be in writing; set forth the alleged violations of the chapter or of applicable rules and regulations issued pursuant thereto; describe the dwelling, dwelling unit, rooming unit or structure where the violations are alleged to exist or to have been committed; and provide a reasonable time, not to exceed 60 days, for the correction of any violation alleged.
The notice shall be served upon the owner, occupant, operator or agent of the dwelling, dwelling unit, rooming unit or structure personally, or by certified or registered mail, return receipt requested, addressed to the last known place of residence of the owner, occupant, operator or agent.
The owner of any dwelling, dwelling unit, rooming unit or structure who is a nonresident of the state of Rhode Island shall have and continuously maintain with the city or town clerk where the property is located a registered agent, which agent may be either an individual who resides in this state or corporation authorized to do business in this state. The landlord's designation shall be in writing, shall include the name and address of the agent, and shall include the street address of each property designated to the agent. The agent so appointed shall be the agent of the owner upon whom any notice process or demand required or permitted by law to be served may be served. Any person who fails to maintain a registered agent shall be subject to a fine of $100.
[Amended 7-9-2018 by Ch. No. 1928]
At the end of the period of time allowed for the correction of any violation alleged, the enforcing officer shall reinspect the dwelling, dwelling unit, rooming unit or structure described in the notice.
If, upon reinspection, the violations alleged are determined by the enforcing officer not to have been corrected, he shall issue a second notice of violation which shall constitute an order requiring that the then existing failures to meet the requirements of this chapter or of applicable existing rules or regulations issued pursuant thereto shall be corrected within a reasonable time allowed, but not to exceed 60 days after the date of such reinspection.
[Amended 7-9-2018 by Ch. No. 1928]
The enforcing officer shall cause a copy of the second notice to be posted in a conspicuous place in or about the dwelling, dwelling unit, rooming unit or structure where the violations are alleged to exist, and shall serve it in the manner provided in this section.
After the expiration of time granted the person served with such second notice to seek a hearing in the manner hereinafter provided by this chapter, or after a final decision by the Housing Board of Review to which an appeal has been taken or by an order of a court of competent jurisdiction, the enforcing officer shall cause the second notice to be recorded in the land registry of the Town.
[Amended 7-9-2018 by Ch. No. 1928]
If a civil penalty is imposed by an order of a court, notice shall state that a violation of this chapter has occurred and that a cumulative civil penalty has been imposed. Said civil penalty may be imposed by the court in the form of a lien on the property. Such lien shall have the same priority as any municipality tax lien. No notice and lien recorded under this chapter shall be released until such violation has been abated and the costs incurred and penalty imposed as provided for in § 145-19 has been paid. Any lien recorded under this chapter may be foreclosed in the manner provided by law for the foreclosure of tax liens.
[Amended 7-9-2018 by Ch. No. 1928]
All subsequent transferees of the dwelling, dwelling unit, rooming unit or structure in connection with which a second notice has been so recorded shall be deemed to have notice of the continuing existence of the violations alleged, and shall be liable to all penalties and procedures provided by this chapter and by applicable rules and regulations issued pursuant thereto to the same degree as was their transferor.
It shall be unlawful for the owner of any residential or nonresidential building upon whom a notice of violation or order has been served to sell, transfer, mortgage, lease or otherwise dispose thereof to another until the provisions of the notice or order have been complied with or until such owner shall first furnish to the grantee, lessee or mortgagee prior to such transfer, lease or mortgage a true copy of any notice or order issued by the enforcing officer, and at the same time notify the enforcing officer in writing of the intent to transfer, lease or mortgage either by delivering the notice of intent to the enforcing officer and receiving a receipt therefor, or by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, giving the name and address of the person to whom the transfer, lease or mortgage is proposed. A transferee, lessee or mortgagee who has received actual or constructive notice of the existence of a notice or order shall be bound by such notice or order as of the date of such transfer, lease or mortgage without service of further notice upon him.
Repairs and other corrective action. Whenever an owner, operator, or agent of a dwelling, dwelling unit, rooming unit or structure fails, neglects, or refuses to make repairs or other corrective action called for by a second order or notice of violation issued pursuant to § 145-19, the enforcing officer may undertake such repairs or action, when in his judgment a failure to make them will endanger the public health, safety or welfare, and the cost of such repairs and action will not exceed 50% of the fair market value of the structure to be repaired. Notice of the intention to make such repairs or take other corrective action shall be served upon the owner, operator or agent pursuant to § 145-19, or upon the appropriate authority as designated agent for service, or upon the resident agent of the owner, as designated agent for service. Every owner, operator or agent of a dwelling, dwelling unit, rooming unit or structure who has received notice of the intention of the enforcing officer to make repairs or take other corrective action shall give entry and free access to the agent of the enforcing officer for the purpose of making such repairs. Any owner, operator, agent or occupant of a dwelling, dwelling unit, rooming unit or structure who refuses, impedes, interferes with, hinders or obstructs entry by such agent pursuant to a notice of intention to make repairs or take other corrective action shall be subject to a civil penalty of $25 for each such failure to comply with this section. When repairs are made or other corrective action taken at the direction of the enforcing officer, cost of such repairs and corrective action shall constitute a debt in favor of the corporate unit against the owner of the repaired structure. In the event such owner fails, neglects, or refuses to pay the corporate unit the amount of this debt, it shall be recoverable in a civil action against the owner or his successor, brought in a court of competent jurisdiction by the corporate unit which shall possess all rights of a private creditor.
Designation of unfit dwellings, dwelling units, rooming units and structures.
Any dwelling, dwelling unit, rooming unit or structure shall be designated as unfit for human habitation when any of the following defects or conditions are found and when, in the opinion of the enforcing officer, these defects create a hazard to the health, safety or welfare of the occupants or of the public:
Whenever any dwelling, dwelling unit, rooming unit or structure has been designated as unfit for human habitation, the enforcing officer shall placard the dwelling, dwelling unit, rooming unit or structure, indicating that it is unfit for human habitation, and, if occupied, shall order the dwelling, dwelling unit, rooming unit or structure vacated within a reasonable time, such time to be not more than 30 days. No dwelling, dwelling unit, rooming unit or structure, which has been designated as unfit for human habitation and which has been placarded as such and has been vacated shall be used again for human habitation until written approval is secured from the enforcing officer and the placard removed by the enforcing officer. The enforcing officer shall rescind the designation and remove the placard when the defect or condition upon which such designation and such placarding was based has been removed or eliminated as to cause the dwelling, dwelling unit, rooming unit or structure, to be deemed by the enforcing officer as a safe, sanitary and fit place or unit for human habitation. No person shall deface or remove the placard from any dwelling, dwelling unit, rooming unit or structure which has been designated as unfit for human habitation and has been placarded as such except as provided in this section. Any person affected by any decision of the enforcing officer or by any designation or placarding of a dwelling, dwelling unit, rooming unit or structure as unfit for human habitation shall be granted a hearing on the matter before the enforcing officer under the procedure set forth in § 145-22. The enforcing officer may order the owner of any building, which has been in the past or is vacant and open at doors or windows to be boarded to comply with the following specifications: All openings (including doors and windows) from cellar to second floor inclusive, and all windows above the second floor leading to fire escapes, porches or structural appurtenances on all floors must be covered from the exterior with three-eighths-inch thick exterior plywood or one-half-inch notched boards firmly secured and with protective coating. All other windows must be so secured by either one-quarter-inch thick exterior plywood or one-half-inch notched boards.
Demolition of dwellings, dwelling units or rooming units designated as unfit for human habitation. The enforcing officer shall order a dwelling, dwelling unit or rooming unit to be demolished if it has been designated as unfit for human habitation, has been placarded as such, has been vacated, has not been put into proper repair as to rescind the designation as unfit for human habitation and to cause the placard to be removed, and is determined by the enforcing officer not to warrant repair under this section. The owner of any dwelling, dwelling unit or rooming unit which has been ordered demolished shall be given notice of this order in the manner provided for service of notice in § 145-19 and shall be given a reasonable time, not to exceed 90 days, to demolish such structure. Any owner aggrieved by the notice to demolish may within 10 days seek a reconsideration of the matter in the manner hereinafter provided, and may seek a formal hearing in the manner provided in § 145-22. When the owner fails, neglects or refuses to demolish an unfit, unsafe or unsanitary dwelling, dwelling unit, or rooming unit within the requisite time, the enforcing officer may apply to a court of competent jurisdiction for a demolition order to undertake the demolition. The court may grant such order when no reconsideration or hearing on the matter is pending. The cost of such demolition shall create a debt in favor of this corporate unit against such owner, and shall be recoverable in a civil action brought by the corporate unit which shall possess all the rights of a private creditor. Whenever a dwelling is demolished, whether carried out by the owner or by the enforcing officer, such demolition shall include the filling in of the excavation remaining on the property on which the demolished dwelling was located, in such manner as to eliminate all potential danger to the public health, safety or welfare arising from such excavation. All demolition shall be preceded by an inspection of the premises by the appropriate authority as provided for by the laws of this state.
Relocation of occupants. Notwithstanding the other provisions of this section, no dwelling shall be vacated or demolished by the Director, under the powers granted to him by the provisions of this chapter, until persons occupying the dwelling at the time the compliance order is issued have been offered housing accommodations in a decent, safe and sanitary dwelling which meets the requirements of this chapter.
There is hereby created a revolving fund for the purpose of supporting the cost of repairs and other corrective action or demolition made by the enforcing officer pursuant to this section. Into this fund shall be paid:
All license fees collected pursuant to this chapter.
All judgments collected in actions to recover the costs of repair and other corrective action and demolition, pursuant to this section.
Such other revenues as the corporate unit may from time to time authorize to be paid into this fund.
All donations and grants designed to promote the purposes of this chapter from public or private sources;
The enforcing officer is hereby declared to be the authorized agency of the corporate unit to apply for and receive all grants, loans and gifts of funds to promote the purposes of this chapter.
Rent payment. Notwithstanding any lease or other agreement, if the enforcing officer of any corporate unit shall have ordered the repair, alteration or improvement of a dwelling in that he shall have designated the same to be an unfit dwelling as provided for in this section, then the obligation of rent therefor to the landlord shall be suspended and the same shall be paid into the revolving fund as established herein by the enforcing officer, to be paid thereafter to the landlord or any other party authorized to make repairs (including the enforcing officer) to defray the cost of correcting the conditions, and no action shall be maintained by the landlord against the tenant for such rent or for possession. Sums paid into the revolving fund in excess of those necessary to make repairs shall be paid to the landlord on completion. If the tenant shall fail to make payments to the enforcing officer, then an action for rent or possession may be maintained, subject to such defenses as the tenant may have under the lease or agreement.
Any owner of a residential structure within the Town of Westerly which has painted siding or exterior surfaces which are allowed to deteriorate such that the siding or exterior surfaces are open to the weather and who has first received written notice from the Minimum Housing Officer to repair or repaint the building within six months, shall be subject to a daily fine of $25 for each and every day the building has not been repainted following the six-month notice period. Such property owner may extend the initial period for an additional 90 days with the written permission of the Minimum Housing Officer.
[Added 8-9-2005 by Ch. No. 1550]
The enforcing officer is hereby authorized to collect and disseminate information concerning techniques of maintenance, repair and sanitation in housing, and concerning the requirements of this chapter and applicable rules and regulations issued pursuant thereto.
Application for reconsideration. Any person aggrieved by a notice of the enforcing officer issued in connection with any alleged violation of this chapter or of applicable rules and regulations issued pursuant thereto, or by any order requiring repair or demolition pursuant to § 145-20 may apply to the enforcing officer for a reconsideration of such notice or order within 10 days after it has been issued. The enforcing officer shall set a time and place for an informal conference on the matter within 10 days of the receipt of such application and shall advise the applicant of such time and place in writing. At the informal conference, the applicant shall be permitted to present his grounds for believing that the order should be revoked or modified to one or more representatives of the enforcing officer. Within 10 days following the close of the informal conference, the enforcing officer shall advise the applicant whether or not it will modify or set aside the notice or order issued by the enforcing officer.
Hearings. Any person aggrieved by a notice of the enforcing officer issued in connection with any alleged violation of the provisions of this chapter or of any applicable rules and regulations pursuant thereto, or by any order requiring repair or demolition pursuant to § 145-20, may file with the Housing Board of Review a petition setting forth his reasons for contesting the notice or order. Such petition shall be filed within 10 days after the notice or order is served on petitioner in the manner prescribed by § 145-19. Upon receipt of a valid petition, the Housing Board of Review shall either grant or deny the hearing requested, and shall advise the petitioner of its decision in writing within 10 days of the day on which his petition was received. When the Housing Board of Review determines to hold a hearing, it shall serve the petitioner with notice of its decision in the manner provided for service of notice in § 145-19. Such notice shall be served within 10 days of the receipt of the petition. At the hearing, the petitioner shall be given an opportunity to show cause why the notice or order should be modified or withdrawn, or why the period of time permitted for compliance should be extended. The Housing Board of Review shall have the power to affirm, modify or revoke the notice or order, and may grant an extension of time for the performance of any act required of not more than three additional months where the Housing Board of Review finds that there is practical difficulty or undue hardship connected with the performance of any act required by the provisions of this chapter or by applicable rules or regulations issued pursuant thereto, and that such extension is in harmony with the general purpose of this chapter to secure the public health, safety and welfare. The Housing Board of Review may grant variances from the provisions of this chapter or from applicable rules and regulations issued pursuant thereto when the Housing Board of Review finds that there is practical difficulty or unnecessary hardship connected with the performance of any act required by this chapter and applicable rules and regulations pursuant thereto; that strict adherence to such provisions would be arbitrary in the case at hand; that extension would not provide an appropriate remedy in the case at hand; and that such variance is in harmony with the general purpose of this chapter to secure the public health, safety and welfare.
Emergencies. Whenever, in the judgment of the enforcing officer an emergency exists which requires immediate action to protect the public health, safety or welfare, an order may be issued, without notice, conference or hearing, directing the owner, occupant, operator, or agent to take such action as is appropriate to correct or abate the emergency. If circumstances warrant, the enforcing officer may act to correct or abate the emergency. The owner, occupant, operator or agent shall be granted a conference on the matter upon his request, as soon as practicable, but such conference shall in no case stay the abatement of correction of such emergency.
Appeals. Any person, including the enforcing officer, aggrieved by any decision of the Housing Board of Review may present to the Municipal Court or other court of competent jurisdiction a petition duly verified setting forth that such decision is illegal in whole or in part and specifying the grounds of illegality. Such petition shall be presented to the court within 30 days after the filing of the decision in the office of the Board. The filing of the petition for appeal shall not stay proceedings upon the decision appealed from, but the court may on application, upon notice to the Board and on due cause shown, grant a restraining order. The Board shall not be required to return the original papers acted on by it, but it shall be sufficient to return certified or sworn copies thereof or such portions thereof as may be called for by such order of court. The return shall concisely set forth other facts as may be pertinent and material to show the grounds of the decision appealed from and shall be verified. If, upon the hearing, it shall appear to the court that testimony is necessary for the proper disposition of the matter, it may take evidence or appoint a master to take such evidence as it may direct, and he shall report the same to the court with his findings of fact and conclusions of law, which shall constitute a part of the proceedings upon which the determination of the court shall be made. The court may reverse or affirm, wholly or partly, or may modify the decision brought up for review. There shall be no right of appeal from the final judgment, decision or order of the court. Any person or persons jointly or severally aggrieved by the final judgment, decision or order of the court may petition the supreme court for a prerogative writ of certiorari to review such judgment, decision or order.
[Amended 7-9-2018 by Ch. No. 1928]
Court proceedings. The Municipal Court shall, upon due proceedings instituted in the name of the Town, have power to issue any extraordinary writ or to proceed according to equity or both to restrain, prevent, enjoin, abate or correct a violation; or to order the repair, vacation or demolition of any dwelling existing in violation of the provisions of this chapter or to otherwise compel compliance with all of the provisions of this chapter or corporate unit ordinances adopted pursuant to the authority hereof. When, under the provisions of this chapter or of any ordinance passed pursuant to the authority hereof, any work is done or material furnished by any enforcing officer or by his order at the expense of the owner or other persons interested, the value of such work and material may be recovered in an action of the case brought against such owner or other interested person or persons, and if any such work or materials shall have been done or furnished at the cost of the corporate unit, such enforcing officer shall cause the same to be brought in the name of the corporate unit. Upon the entry of any case or proceeding brought under the provisions of this chapter, the court shall, at the request of either party, advance the case so that it may be heard and determined with as little delay as possible.
[Amended 7-9-2018 by Ch. No. 1928]
In any case where a provision of this chapter is found to be in conflict with a provision of any zoning, building, fire, safety or health ordinance or code of the corporate unit or of this state, the provision which establishes the higher standard for the promotion and protection of the health and safety of the people shall prevail. In any case where a provision of this chapter is found to be in conflict with a provision of any other ordinance or code of the corporate unit or of this state existing on the effective date of this chapter which establishes a lower standard for the promotion and protection of the health and safety of the people, the provisions of this chapter shall be deemed to prevail, and such other ordinances or codes are hereby declared to be repealed to the extent that they may be found in conflict with this chapter.
Civil penalties. Any owner, occupant, operator or agent of a dwelling, dwelling unit, rooming unit or structure who has received the second order or notice of a violation of this chapter shall be subject to a cumulative civil penalty of $50 per day for each day each violation continues after expiration of the specified reasonable consideration period, provided that no such penalty shall be applicable while a reconsideration, hearing or appeal to a court of competent jurisdiction is pending in the matter. Any owner, occupant, operator or agent of a dwelling, dwelling unit, rooming unit or structure who has received more than two violation notices of this chapter within a three-year period shall be subject to a cumulative civil penalty of $150 per day for each day each violation continues after expiration of the specified reasonable consideration period, provided that no such penalty shall be applicable while a reconsideration, hearing or appeal to a court of competent jurisdiction is pending in the matter.
Criminal penalties; willful or reckless violations; false statements. Any person who willfully or recklessly violates any provision of this chapter, or willfully or recklessly violates, or fails to comply with, any requirement of an order of the enforcing officer; or makes, or causes any other person to make, any false or misleading statement on any registration statement, notice, or other document required to be filed pursuant to this chapter, or on any application, or any accompanying document, for the granting of any permit or any other action by the appropriate authority pursuant to this chapter, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than $10 nor more than $500 for each such violation, or by imprisonment up to one year, or by both such fine and imprisonment. A person commits a willful violation when he intentionally acts, or intentionally fails to act, to cause a condition that violates this chapter. A person commits a reckless violation when he acts, or fails to act, with a conscious disregard of a substantial risk that the act or failure to act will result in a condition, constituting a violation of this chapter, which will endanger the life, health or safety of another person.