[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Committee of the Township of Colts Neck 8-26-1971 (Ch. 65 of the 1969 Code). Amendments noted where applicable.]
It is hereby found and declared that the existence or occupation of any building or buildings or parts thereof within the Township of Colts Neck 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 are inimical to the welfare and dangerous and injurious to the health and safety of the residents of the Township of Colts Neck, and that a public necessity exists for the repair, closing or demolition of such building or buildings or part thereof.
The following terms, whenever used or referred to in this chapter, shall have the following respective meanings for the purpose of this chapter, unless a different meaning clearly appears from the context:
- Any building or structure or part thereof, whether used for human habitation or otherwise, including any outhouses and appurtenances belonging thereto or usually enjoyed therewith.
- The holder of the title in fee simple.
- PARTIES IN INTEREST
- All individuals, associations and corporations who have an interest in a building or who are in 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 relating to health, fire, building regulations or to other activities concerning buildings in the Township of Colts Neck.
- PUBLIC OFFICER
- The officers authorized by this chapter to exercise the powers prescribed herein.
Whenever a petition is filed with the public officer by a public authority or by at least five residents of the Township of Colts Neck charging that any building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, or if it shall appear to said public officer, on his or her own motion, that any building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, the public officer shall, if his or her preliminary investigation discloses a basis for such charges, issue and cause to be served upon the owner of and parties in interest in such building a complaint stating the charges in that respect and containing a notice that a hearing will be held before the public officer at a place therein fixed, not less than seven days nor more than 30 days after the serving of said complaint, and to appear in person or otherwise and give testimony at the place and time fixed in the complaint, and that the rules of evidence prevailing in the courts of this state shall not be controlling.
If the public officer shall determine after such notice and hearing that the building under consideration is unfit for human habitation or use or occupancy, 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 as follows:
If the repair, alteration or improvement of the said building can be made at a reasonable cost in relation to the value of the building, which said reasonable cost is hereby fixed at not exceeding 50% of the value of the building, the said order of the public officer shall require the owner (to the extent and within the time specified in the order) to repair, alter or improve the said building and to render it fit for human habitation or occupancy or use or, at the option of the owner, to vacate and close the building to human habitation or occupancy or use.
If the repair, alteration or improvement of the said building cannot be made at a reasonable cost in relation to the value of the building, which, as aforesaid, is hereby fixed at not exceeding 50% of the value of the building, the said order of the public officer shall require the owner (within the time specified in the order) to remove or demolish such building.
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, then 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 occupancy 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.
The amount of the cost of such repairs, alteration or improvements, or vacating and closing, or removal or demolition, when done by the municipality, 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 or she shall sell the materials of such building and shall credit the proceeds of such sale against the cost of the removal or demolition, and any 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 final order or judgment of such Court; provided, however, that nothing in this section shall be construed to impair or limit in any way the power of the municipality to define and declare nuisances and to cause their removal or abatement by summary proceedings or otherwise.
The public officer 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 occupancy of neighboring buildings or other residents or to the Township of Colts Neck; such conditions may include the following, without limiting the generality of the foregoing: defects therein increasing the hazards of fire, accident or other calamities, lack of adequate ventilation, light or sanitary facilities, dilapidation, disrepair, structural defects or uncleanliness.
Without in any way limiting any of the foregoing, the following constitute additional standards for the guidance of the public officer in determining the fitness of a building for human habitation or occupancy or use:
Those whose interior walls or other vertical structural members list, lean or buckle to such an extent that a plumb line passing through the center of gravity falls outside of the middle third of its base.
Those which, exclusive of the foundation, show 33% or more of damage, disrepair or deterioration of the supporting member or members, or 50% of damage, disrepair or deterioration of the nonsupporting, enclosing or outside walls or covering.
Those which have improperly distributed loads upon the floors or roofs or in which the same are overloaded, or which have insufficient strength to be reasonably safe for the purposes used.
Those which have been damaged by fire, wind or other causes so as to have become dangerous to life, safety or the general health and welfare of the occupants or the people of the Township of Colts Neck.
Where public water facilities are available, the following shall also apply: those which lack a supply of potable running water; those which do not have at least one flush toilet for each dwelling unit, or if present, is unfit for use; and those which do not have a bathtub or shower in each dwelling unit, or if present, is unfit for use.
Those which have improper connections between plumbing fixtures and the sanitary sewage disposal system.
Those which, if wired for electricity, contain an inadequate, unsafe or hazardous electrical system.
Those which contain unsafe or hazardous heating or cooking facilities.
Those having a living room, bedroom or kitchen without windows, or with a window opening on an airshaft, or a toilet or bathroom without adequate ventilation.
Those having inadequate facilities for egress in case of fire or panic, or those having insufficient stairways, fire escapes or other means of communication.
Those which have parts thereof which are so attached that they may fall and injure members of the public or property.
Those which have become so dilapidated, decayed, unsafe or insanitary that they are unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use or, by reason of structural deficiencies or of continuous dampness or exposure brought about by neglect or dilapidation, are likely to cause sickness or disease or may reasonably be presumed to result in injury to the health, safety or general welfare of those living therein.
Those buildings existing in violation of any provision of ordinances of the Township of Colts Neck or of the Board of Health of the Township of Colts Neck relating to buildings or health.
If an actual and immediate danger to life is posed by the threatened collapse of any fire-damaged or other structurally unsafe building, the public officer may, after taking such measures as may be necessary to make such building temporarily safe, seek a judgment in summary proceedings for the demolition thereof.
Nothing in this section shall be construed to impair or limit in any way the power of the municipality to define and declare nuisances and to cause their removal or abatement, by summary proceedings or otherwise, nor is anything in this act intended to limit the authority of the enforcing agency or construction official under the "State Uniform Construction Code Act," P.L. 1975, c. 217 (N.J.S.A. 52:27D-119 et seq.) or any rules or regulations adopted thereunder.
Complaints or orders issued by the public officer pursuant to this chapter shall be served upon persons either personally or by registered 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 such complaint or order upon such persons may be made by publishing the same once in a newspaper printed and published in the municipality, or in the absence of such newspaper, in one printed in the county and circulating in the Township of Colts Neck. A copy of such complaint and/or order shall be posted in a conspicuous place on premises affected by the complaint or order. A copy of such complaint or order shall be duly recorded or lodged for record with the County Recording Officer of the County of Monmouth.
Any person aggrieved by an order issued by the public officer shall be entitled to the remedies and relief prescribed by N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.8.
In addition to the powers herein granted to the public officer, he or she shall also have the following powers:
To investigate the building conditions in the Township of Colts Neck, in the County of Monmouth, in order to determine which buildings therein are unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use.
To administer oaths, affirmations, examine witnesses and receive evidence.
To enter upon premises for the purpose of making examinations, provided that such entries shall be made in such manner as to cause the least possible inconvenience to the persons in possession.
The public officer who is hereby authorized to exercise the powers and duties under this chapter shall be the following persons: the Zoning Officer of the Township of Colts Neck and one member each from the Township Committee and the Board of Health of the Township of Colts Neck selected by the Mayor and approved by the Township Committee. Each of said persons is hereby authorized to exercise the powers and duties prescribed herein, except that no hearing, order or findings of fact shall be held or made unless it be so held or made before or by a majority of said three persons, said persons to be known as the Committee for Substandard Housing. The term of each of said persons shall expire January 1 of each year following his or her appointment.
This chapter is adopted in accordance with Chapter 112, P.L. 1942, N.J.S.A. 40:48-2 et seq., and the method of enforcement, definitions, procedure and remedies shall be governed and controlled thereby and as herein set forth, or any amendments or supplements thereto.
[Amended 10-8-1997; 3-8-2006]
Any person or persons who violate any of the provisions of this chapter or who shall violate an order of the public officer or who shall use or occupy any building for human habitation or occupancy or use after a placard has been posted thereon declaring the building unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, as provided in § 113-5, or any person who removes said placard from said building, or any person who shall interfere with the public officer or any other person authorized to exercise the powers of the public officer shall be punishable as provided in § 1-9 of this Code.
A majority of the Committee for Substandard Housing may delegate and fix the duties of such officers, agents and employees as they deem necessary to assist in carrying out the purposes of this chapter, subject to confirmation and approval having first been obtained from the Mayor and Township Committee, and they may delegate any of their functions and powers under this chapter to such officers, agents and employees as they may designate.