[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Committee (now Township Council) of the Township of Bridgewater 9-6-1955. Amendments noted where applicable.]
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- Any building or structure or part thereof used and occupied for human habitation or intended to be so used, and includes 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 interest of record in a dwelling, and any 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 of Bridgewater, County of Somerset or State of New Jersey relating to health, fire or building regulations or to other activities concerning dwellings in the Township of Bridgewater.
The Building Inspector of the Township of Bridgewater is hereby designated and appointed to exercise the powers prescribed by this chapter.
Whenever a petition is filed with the Building Inspector by a public authority or by at least five residents of the Township of Bridgewater, charging that any dwelling is unfit for human habitation, or whenever it appears to the Building Inspector (on his own motion) that any dwelling is unfit for human habitation, the Building Inspector shall, if his preliminary investigation discloses a basis for such charges, issue and cause to be served upon the owner of and parties in interest in such dwelling a complaint stating the charges in that respect and containing a notice that a hearing will be held before the Building Inspector at a place therein fixed, not less than 10 days nor more than 30 days after the serving of said complaint. The owner and parties in interest shall have the right to file an answer to the complaint and to appear in person or otherwise and give testimony at the place and time fixed in the complaint. The rules of evidence prevailing in the courts shall not be controlling in hearings before the Building Inspector.
If, after such notice and hearing as set forth in § 65-3, the Building Inspector determines that the dwelling under consideration is unfit for human habitation, he shall state in writing his findings of fact in support of such determination and shall issue and cause to be served upon the owner thereof and parties in interest an order as follows:
If the repair, alteration or improvement of the said dwelling can be made at a cost not in excess of 50% of the value of the dwelling, said Building Inspector shall require the owner within a period of not more than 90 days to repair, alter or improve the said dwelling to render it fit for human habitation, or, at the option of the owner, to vacate and close the dwelling as a human habitation; or
If the repair, alteration or improvement of the said dwelling cannot be made at a cost of not more than 50% of the value of the said dwelling, the said Building Inspector shall make an order requiring the owner, within a period of not more than 90 days from the date of such order, to remove or demolish such dwelling.
If the owner fails to comply with the order to repair, alter or improve, or, at the option of the owner, to vacate and close the dwelling, the Building Inspector may cause such dwelling to be repaired, altered or improved, or to be vacated and closed. The Building Inspector may cause to be posted on the main entrance of any such dwelling so closed, a placard with the following words: "This building is unfit for human habitation. The use or occupation of this building for human habitation is prohibited and unlawful."
If the owner fails to comply with any such order to remove or demolish the dwelling house, the Building Inspector may cause such dwelling to be removed or demolished.
The amount of the cost of any such repairs, alterations or improvements, or vacating and closing, or removal or demolition shall be a municipal lien against the real property upon which such cost was incurred. If the dwelling is removed or demolished by the Building Inspector, he shall sell the materials of such dwelling 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 Building Inspector, 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 chapter shall be construed to impair or limit in any way the power of the Township of Bridgewater to define and declare nuisances and to cause their removal or abatement, by summary proceedings or otherwise.
The Building Inspector may determine that a dwelling is unfit for human habitation if he finds that conditions exist in such dwelling which are dangerous or injurious to the health or safety of the occupants of such dwelling house, the occupants of neighboring dwellings or other residents of the Township of Bridgewater. 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.
Complaints or orders issued by the Building Inspector 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 Building Inspector in the exercise of reasonable diligence, and the Building Inspector 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 each week for two successive weeks in a newspaper printed and published in the County of Somerset and circulating in the Township of Bridgewater. A copy of such complaint or order shall be posted in a conspicuous place on the 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 Clerk of Somerset County.
Any person aggrieved by an order issued by the Building Inspector under this chapter may, within 60 days after the posting and service of such order, bring an action for injunctive relief to restrain the Building Inspector from carrying out the provisions of the order and for any other appropriate relief. The court may proceed in the action in a summary manner or otherwise. The remedy herein provided shall be exclusive, and no person affected by an order of the Building Inspector shall be entitled to recover any damages for action taken pursuant thereto or because of noncompliance by any person with any order of the Building Inspector.
The Building Inspector is hereby 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 others herein granted:
To investigate the dwelling conditions in the municipality of the Township of Bridgewater in order to determine which dwellings therein are unfit for human habitation.
To administer oaths and 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.
To appoint and fix the duties of such officers, agents and employees as he deems necessary to carry out the purposes of this chapter.
To delegate any of his functions and powers under this chapter to such officers and agents as he may designate.
Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to abrogate or impair the powers of the courts or any department of the Township of Bridgewater to enforce any provisions of its Charter or its ordinances or regulations nor to prevent or punish violations thereof; and the powers conferred by this chapter shall be in addition and supplemental to the powers conferred by any other law.