[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Committee of the Township of Medford 5-6-1964 as Ord. No. 1964-2 and amended 2-7-1968 by Ord. No. 1968-2. Amended by the Township Council of the Township of Medford at time of adoption of Code; see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. I. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
The Uniform Construction Code Official of the Township of Medford is hereby designated as the enforcement official to exercise the powers prescribed by this chapter, and he shall serve in such capacity without any additional salary.
For the purpose of this chapter, the enforcement official 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, the occupants of neighboring dwellings or other residents of the Township of Medford. 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.
Pursuant to the provisions of P.L. 1946, c. 21, the New Jersey State Housing Code as approved by the Departments of Health and Conservation and Economic Development and filed in the Secretary of State's office is hereby accepted, adopted and established as a standard to be used as a guide in determining the fitness of a building for human habitation or occupancy or use. A copy of the New Jersey State Housing Code is annexed to this chapter, and three copies of the same have been placed on file in the office of the Township Clerk and are available to all persons desiring to use and examine the same.
Editor's Note: See N.J.S.A. 40:49-5.1 through 5.3.
Whenever a petition is filed with the enforcement official by a public authority as defined in N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.4 or by at least five residents of the municipality, charging that any dwelling is unfit for human habitation as herein defined, or whenever it appears to the enforcement official on his own motion that any dwelling is unfit for human habitation as herein defined, he shall, if his preliminary investigation discloses a basis for such charges, issue and cause to be served upon the owner of and parties in interest in such dwelling a complaint stating the charges in that respect and containing a notice that a hearing will be held before the enforcement official or his designated agent at a place therein fixed, not less than seven days nor more than 30 days after the serving of said complaint; that the owner and parties in interest shall be given the right to file an answer to the complaint and to appear in person or otherwise and give testimony at the time and place in the complaint; and that the rules of evidence prevailing in courts of law or equity shall not be controlling in hearings before the enforcement official.
If, after such notice and hearing, the enforcement official determines that the dwelling under consideration is unfit for human habitation as herein defined, he shall state in writing his findings of fact and serve upon the owner thereof and parties in interest an order requiring:
The repair, alteration or improvement of the said building to be made by the owner within a reasonable time, which time shall be set forth in the order, or, at the option of the owner, to vacate or have the said building vacated and closed within the time set forth in the order; and
If the building is in such a condition as to make it dangerous to the health and safety of persons on or near the premises and the owner fails to repair, alter or improve the said building within the time specified in the order, that the owner remove or demolish the said building within a reasonable time as specified in the said order of removal.
If the owner fails to comply with an order to repair, alter or improve, or, at the option of the owner, to vacate and close the building, the enforcement official may cause such building to be repaired, altered or improved, or to be vacated and closed; the enforcement official may cause to be posted on the main entrance of any building so closed, a placard with the following words: "This building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use; the use or occupation of this building is prohibited and unlawful."
If the owner fails to comply with an order to remove or demolish the building, the enforcement official may cause such building to be removed or demolished or may contract for the removal or demolition thereof after advertisement for and receipt of bids therefor.
The amount of:
The cost of the filing of legal papers, expert witnesses' fees, search fees and advertising charges incurred in the course of any proceeding taken under this chapter determined in favor of the municipality, and
Such cost of such repairs, alterations or improvements, or vacating and closing, or removal or demolition, if any, or the amount of the balance thereof remaining after deduction of the sum, if any, realized from the sale of materials derived from such building or from any contract for removal or demolition thereof, shall be a municipal lien against the real property upon which such cost was incurred. If the building is removed or demolished by the enforcement official, he shall sell the materials of such building. There shall be credited against the cost of the removal or demolition thereof, including the clearance and, if necessary, leveling of the site, the proceeds of any sale of such materials or any sum derived from any contract for the removal or demolition of the building. If there are no such credits or if the sum total of such costs exceeds the total of such credits, a detailed statement of the aforesaid costs and the amount so due shall be filed with the Municipal Tax Assessor or other custodian of the records of tax liens, and a copy thereof shall be forthwith forwarded to the owner by registered mail. If the total of the credits exceeds such costs, the balance remaining shall be deposited in the Superior Court by the enforcement official, shall be secured in such manner as may be directed by such Court and shall be disbursed according to the order or judgment of the Court to the persons found to be entitled thereto by final order or judgment of such Court. Any owner or party in interest may, within 30 days from the date of the filing of the lien certificate, proceed in a summary manner in the Superior Court to contest the reasonableness of the amount or the accuracy of the costs set forth in the municipal lien certificate.
If an actual and immediate danger to life is posed by the threatened collapse of any fire-damaged or other structurally unsafe building, the enforcement official 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 chapter 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. c. 52:27D-119 et seq, or any rules or regulations adopted thereunder.
Complaints or orders issued by the enforcement official 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 said enforcement official in the exercise of reasonable diligence and the said enforcement official 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 the officially designated newspaper, designated as such by the Township Council of the Township of Medford. A copy of such complaint or order shall be posted in a conspicuous place on the premises affected by the complaint or order, and a copy of such complaint or order shall be duly recorded or lodged for record with the county recording officer of the county in which the dwelling is located.
The enforcement official is hereby authorized and empowered to exercise such powers as may be necessary or convenient to carry out and effectuate the purposes and provisions of this chapter, including the following in addition to others herein granted:
To investigate the dwelling conditions in the Township of Medford in order to determine which dwellings therein are unfit for human habitation.
To administer oaths, affirmations, examine witnesses and receive evidence.
To enter upon premises for the purpose of making 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 power of the township or any officer or department to enforce any provisions of 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 upon the township by any other law or ordinance.
Any person, firm or corporation who shall violate any of the provisions of this chapter shall, upon conviction, be punishable by a fine not to exceed $500 or by imprisonment in the county jail not to exceed 90 days, or by both such fine and imprisonment, and each violation of any of the provisions of this chapter and each day the same is violated shall be deemed and taken to be a separate and distinct offense.