[Adopted 11-10-1986 by Ord. No. 13-86]
The purpose of this article is to protect the public health, safety and welfare of the residents of Mullica Township through the enforcement of minimum standards of maintenance for residential and nonresidential buildings in the Township. The provisions of this article shall apply to all structures used for human habitation which are now or may become in the future substandard with respect to structure, protection against fire hazard, equipment or maintenance, inadequate provisions for light and air, lack of proper heating, unsanitary conditions and overcrowding or shall otherwise be deemed to constitute a menace to the safety, health and welfare of their occupants. The existence of such conditions, factors or characteristics adversely affects public safety, health and welfare and leads to the continuation, extension and aggravation of urban blight. Adequate protection of the public, therefore, requires the establishment and enforcement of these minimum property standards. Further, this article is adopted to exercise the police powers granted to it by N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.3 et seq.
The Municipal Code Enforcement Officer of the Township of Mullica, hereinafter referred to as the "Code Officer," is hereby designated and appointed as the public officer authorized to exercise the powers prescribed in this article.
Application of the Building Code. Any alterations to buildings, or changes of use therein, which may be caused directly or indirectly by the enforcement of this article shall be done in accordance with the applicable section of the BOCA Code.
Application of Land Development Ordinance. Nothing in this article shall permit the establishment or conversion of a multifamily dwelling in any zone except where permitted by the Land Development Ordinance, nor the continuation of such nonconforming use in any zone except as provided therein.
Existing buildings. This article establishes minimum requirements for the continued occupancy of all buildings used for human habitation and does not replace or modify requirements otherwise established for the construction, repair, alteration or use of buildings, equipment or facilities except as provided in this section.
Unless otherwise stated, the following terms shall, for the purpose of this article, have the meanings indicated in this section.
Word usage. Words used in the present tense include the future; words in the masculine gender include the feminine and neuter; and the singular number includes the plural and the plural the singular.
Terms defined in BOCA Code. Where terms are not defined in this section and are defined in the BOCA Code, they shall have the meanings ascribed to them as in the BOCA Code.
Terms not defined. Where terms are not defined under the provisions of this article or under the provisions of the BOCA Code, they shall have ascribed to them their ordinarily accepted meanings or such as the context herein may imply.
Terms defined. As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- ACCESSORY STRUCTURE
- A structure the use of which is incidental to that attached thereto or located on the same premises.
- Any building or structure, or part thereof, used for human habitation, use or occupancy, and includes any accessory buildings and appurtenances belonging thereto or usually enjoyed therewith.
- CODE ENFORCEMENT OFFICER
- The official designated herein or otherwise charged with the responsibilities of administering this article, or his authorized representative.
- Any building, including a so-called "motel type" of operation which has facilities as described in the following definition of dwelling unit, 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, TWO-FAMILY
- A building containing two units.
- DWELLING UNIT
- One or more rooms arranged for the use of one or more individuals living together as a single housekeeping unit, with cooking, living, sanitary and sleeping facilities.
- EXTERIOR PROPERTY AREAS
- The open space on the premises and on adjoining property under the control of owners or operators or such premises.
- The control and elimination of insects, rodents or other pests by eliminating their harborage places, by removing or making inaccessible materials that may serve as their food, by poison spraying, fumigating or trapping or by any other approved pest-elimination methods.
- The animal and vegetable waste resulting from the handling, preparation, cooking and consumption of food.
- HABITABLE ROOM
- A room or enclosed floor space arranged for living, eating and sleeping purposes, not including bathrooms, water closet compartments, laundries, pantries, foyers, hallways and other accessory floor space.
- The presence of insects, rodents, vermin or other pests.
- Any person over one year of age, including the owner or occupant, living and sleeping in a dwelling unit or having actual possession of said dwelling or rooming unit.
- OPENABLE AREA
- That part of a window or door which is available for unobstructed ventilation and which opens directly to the outdoors.
- Any person who has charge, care or control of a multifamily dwelling or rooming house in which dwelling units or rooming units are let or offered for occupancy.
- Any person who, alone or jointly or severally with others:
- (1) Shall have legal title to any dwelling or dwelling unit with or without accompanying actual possession thereof; or
- (2) Shall have charge, care or control of any dwelling or dwelling unit as owner or agent of the owner or as executor or executrix, administrator, administratrix, 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 article, and the rules and regulations adopted pursuant thereto, to the same extent as if he were the owner.
- An individual, firm, corporation, association or partnership.
- A lot, plot or parcel of land, including the building or structure thereon.
- Combustible and noncombustible waste materials, except garbage, and shall include the residue from the burning of wood, coal, coke and other combustible materials, paper, rugs, cartons, boxes, wood (exclusive of wood properly stacked for use in a fire place or wood stove), excelsior, rubber, leather, tree branches, yard trimmings, tin cans, metals, mineral matter, glass crockery and dust and other similar materials.
- Installed, furnished or provided by the owner or operator.
- TEMPORARY HOUSING
- Any tent, trailer or other structure used for human shelter which is designed to be transportable and which is not attached to the ground, to another structure or to any utility system on the same premises for more than 30 consecutive days.
- WORKMANLIKE STATE OF MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR
- That such maintenance and repair shall be made in a reasonably skillful manner.
It shall be the duty and responsibility of the Code Officer or his/her authorized representative to enforce the provisions of this article.
Relief. The Code Officer shall have the power to grant relief from any of the provisions of this article where there are practical difficulties in the way of carrying out the strict letter of this article, provided that the spirit of this article shall be observed and public safety secured. The particulars of such relief when granted or allowed and the decision of the Code Officer thereon shall be recorded, and a signed copy shall be furnished the applicant.
Coordination of enforcement. Inspection of premises and the issuing of orders in connection therewith under the provisions of this article shall be the exclusive responsibilities of the Code Officer. Whenever in the opinion of the Code Officer it is necessary or desirable to have inspections of any condition by any other department, she/he shall arrange for this to be done in such manner that the owners or occupants of buildings shall not be subjected to visits by numerous inspectors nor to multiple or conflicting orders. No order for correction of any violation under this article shall be issued without the approval of the Code Officer, and it shall be the responsibility of that official, before issuing any such order, to determine that it has the concurrence of any other officer of township government concerned with any matter involved on the case in question.
Administrative liability. Except as may otherwise be provided by statute or local law or ordinance, no officer, agent or employee of the Township charged with the enforcement of this article shall render himself/herself personally liable for any damage that may accrue to persons or property as a result of any act required or permitted in the discharge of his/her duties under this article. No person who institutes or assists in the prosecution of a criminal proceeding under this article shall be liable to damages hereunder unless he/she acted with actual malice and without reasonable grounds for believing that the person accused or prosecuted was guilty of an unlawful act or omission. Any suit brought against any officer, agent or employee of the Township as a result of any act required or permitted in this discharge of his/her duties under this article shall be defended by the legal representatives of the Township until the final determination of the proceedings therein.
Inspections. The Code Officer shall make or cause to be made inspections to determine the condition of any building or structure in order to safeguard the safety, health and welfare of the public under the provisions of this article. The Code Officer is authorized to enter any building or structure only by the expressed consent of the owner or his agent or by an inspection warrant issued by the Municipal Judge.
If the Code Officer's investigation discloses a basis for an order for correction of any violation, he/she shall issue and cause to be served upon the owners and parties in interest in such buildings a complaint stating the charges in that respect and containing a notice that the property owner shall notify the Code Officer of his intentions with respect to correcting the condition. In the event that there is no response from the property owner, or should the response be unsatisfactory to the Code Officer, then the Code Officer shall file a complaint with the Mullica Township Municipal Court, and the hearing shall be held before the Municipal Judge, at which time a fine may be assessed.
Either before or at the same time that the Code Officer issues or causes his/her complaint to be served, he/she shall give a copy to the Township Clerk.
In the event that the Code Officer finds that the subject property is so unfit as to require demolition, then both the complaint of the Code Officer and the notice given shall contain a description of the property affected, sufficiently definite in terms to identify it, as well as a description of the manner in which such removal or destruction is to be carried out and a notice that, unless the building is removed or destroyed within 30 days after the service of the notice, the Township Council will proceed with the removal or destruction or cause it to be proceeded with pursuant to the authority under this article and N.J.S.A. 40:48-1 et seq.
Complaints, orders and notices issued pursuant to this article by the Code Officer shall be served upon the owner and persons in interest who reside in the Township personally or to anyone residing in the household of said owner or owners and persons in interest who are over the age of 14 years. If said owners or owner and/or persons in interest reside outside the Township, then said complaints, orders and notices shall be either served personally upon them or by registered mail, but if the whereabouts of such persons is unknown and the same cannot be ascertained by the Code Officer in the exercise of reasonable diligence and the Code Officer shall make an affidavit to that effect, filed with the Township Clerk, then the serving of such complaint or order or notice 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 Township or, in the absence of such newspaper, in one printed and published in the county and circulating in the Township of Mullica, in which the building and/or buildings are located. The last notice shall be published not less than 30 days before the proposed removal or destruction. A copy of said complaint or order or notice shall be posted in a conspicuous place on the premises affected by the complaint or order or notice. A copy of such complaint or order or notice shall be duly recorded or lodged for record with the county recording officer of the County of Atlantic, all pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:48-1 and 40:48-2.7. Proof of service of all complaints, orders and notices shall be filed within 10 days thereafter with the Township Clerk and the Township Tax Collector.
A property owner served with an order for demolition may, within 10 days of the receipt of the same, file a request for an appeal hearing with the Township Clerk. Thereafter the Township Council shall, within 30 days, conduct a hearing on whether the demolition order should be carried out. After such hearing, if the Township Council determines that the building under consideration is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, it shall state, in writing, its findings of fact in support of such determination and shall issue and cause to be served upon the owners and persons in interest thereof an order as follows:
Requiring the repair, alteration or improvement of 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 said building vacated and closed within the time set forth in the order.
If the building is in such 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 said building within the time specified in the order, then the owner shall be required to remove or demolish said building within said reasonable time as specified in said order of removal.
That, if the owner and/or persons in interest fail to comply with an order to repair, alter or improve or, at the option of the owner, to vacate and close said building, the Township Council may cause such building to be removed, repaired, altered or improved or to be vacated and closed; and the Code 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."
That, if the owner fails to comply with an order to remove or demolish the building, the Township Council may cause said building to be removed or demolished or may contract for the removal or demolition thereof after advertisement for and receipt of bids therefor.
That the costs of the filing of legal papers, expert witness fees, search fees and advertisement charges incurred in the course of any proceeding taken under this article and such costs of such repairs, alterations or improvements 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 costs were incurred.
When any such removal or destruction shall have been undertaken and completed by the Township, an accurate account of the costs and expenses thereof shall be kept and a true statement under oath or affirmation shall be filed by the officer of the Township in charge of the removal or destruction with the Township Clerk, who shall record it in a file to be kept for that purpose.
Scope. The provisions of this section shall govern the minimum conditions of property and buildings to be used for human occupancy. Every building or structure occupied by humans, and the premises on which it stands, shall comply with conditions herein prescribed as they apply thereto.
Exterior property areas. No person shall occupy as owner-occupant or let to another for occupancy any dwelling unit for the purpose of living therein, or premises, which does not comply with the following requirements:
Sanitation. All exterior property areas shall be maintained in a clean and sanitary condition free from any accumulation of rubbish and garbage.
Grading and drainage. All premises shall be graded and maintained so as to prevent the accumulation of stagnant water thereon to within any buildings or structure located thereon.
Insect and rodent harborage. The property shall be maintained in such a fashion to ensure that it is not a source for insects, rodents, vermin or other pests so as to result in a nuisance's being created adversely impacting upon neighboring properties.
No person shall occupy as owner-occupant or let to another for occupancy any building or structure or portion thereof which does not comply with the following requirements:
Foundations. Every foundation, wall and all other exterior surfaces shall be maintained in a workmanlike state of maintenance and repair and shall be kept in such condition as to exclude rodents and other intrusion. The foundation elements shall adequately support the building at all points.
Exterior walls. Every exterior wall shall be free of holes, breaks, loose or rotting boards or timbers and any other conditions which might admit rain or dampness to the interior portions of the walls or to the occupied spaces of the building.
Exterior maintenance of structures. The exterior of every structure or accessory structure or other improvement on the premises shall be kept in good repair, and all exposed surfaces thereof subject to deterioration shall be covered by a protective coating appropriate for the particular material involved.
Roofs. The roof shall be structurally sound, tight and have no defects which might admit rain, and roof drainage shall be adequate to prevent rainwater from causing dampness in the walls or interior of the building.
Drainage. Leaders and drainpipes shall be securely fastened to the buildings and maintained in good condition and shall direct stormwaters from foundation walls of the structure.
Stairs, porches and railings. Stairs and other exit facilities shall be adequate for safe ingress and egress. They shall be constructed and maintained in conformance with the BOCA Code and the provisions of this article.
Structural safety. Every outside stair, every porch and every appurtenance attached thereto shall be so constructed as to be safe for use and capable of supporting the loads to which it is subjected, as required by the BOCA Code, and shall be kept in sound condition and good repair.
Windows, doors and hatchways. Every window, exterior door and basement hatchway shall be substantially tight and shall be kept in sound condition and repair.
Door hardware. Every exterior door, door hinge and door latch shall be maintained in good condition and, when closed, shall fit reasonably well within its frame.
Exit doors. Every door available as an exit shall be capable of being opened from the inside easily by occupants.
Guards for basement windows. Every basement or cellar window shall be protected against the entry of rodents and insects.
No person shall occupy as owner-occupant or let to another for occupancy any dwelling, rooming unit or portion thereof for the purpose of living therein which does not comply with the following requirements:
Structural members. The supporting structural members of every dwelling and rooming house used for human habitation, shall be maintained structurally sound, showing no evidence of deterioration which would render them incapable of carrying the imposed loads.
Interior stairs and railings. The interior stairs of every structure used for human habitation shall be maintained in sound condition and good repair by replacing treads and risers that evidence excessive wear or are broken, warped or loose. Every inside stair shall be constructed and maintained as to be safe for use and capable of supporting required loads.
Bathroom floors. Every toilet and bathroom floor surface shall be constructed and maintained so as to be substantially impervious to water and so as to permit such floor to be easily kept in a clean and sanitary condition.
Sanitation. The interior of every dwelling, room or other structure used for human habitation shall be maintained in a clean and sanitary condition, free from any accumulation of rubbish or garbage. Rubbish, garbage and other refuse shall be kept inside temporary storage facilities.
Insect and rodent harborage. Buildings used for human habitation shall be kept free from excessive insect and rodent infestation. Where excessive infestation is found, it shall be promptly exterminated by acceptable processes which will not be injurious to human health. After extermination, proper precautions shall be taken to prevent reinfestation.
Maintenance of interior dwelling units. Interior walls, ceilings and other exposed surfaces on the interior of dwelling units shall be kept smooth, clean and free of excessive flaking, loose or peeling paint, plaster or paper and shall be capable of being maintained free of visible foreign matter and vermin and in a sanitary condition. Where necessary to accomplish the foregoing or any part thereof, by reason of the nature of the surface material, such interior walls shall be painted, papered, plastered or otherwise provided with a protective coating.
Smoke detectors. Smoke detectors shall be installed outside of each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms and on each additional story of the dwelling, including basements and cellars but not including crawl spaces and uninhabitable attics. In dwellings or dwelling units with split levels, a smoke detector need be installed only on the upper level, provided that the lower level is less than one full story below the upper level, except that if there is a door between levels then a detector is required on each level. All detectors shall be connected to a sounding device or other detectors to provide, when actuated, an alarm which will be audible in all sleeping areas. All detectors shall be approved and listed and shall be installed in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions. In new construction, required smoke detectors shall receive their primary power from the building wiring when such wiring is served from a commercial source. Wiring shall be permanent without a disconnecting switch other than those required for overcurrent protection. Smoke detectors may be battery-operated when installed in existing buildings or in buildings without commercial power.
[Added 6-26-1990 by Ord. No. 9-90]
No person shall occupy as owner-occupant or let to another for occupancy any dwelling unit for the purpose of living, sleeping, cooking or eating therein which does not comply with the following requirements:
Sanitary facilities. The following minimum sanitary facilities shall be supplied and maintained in a sanitary and safe working condition:
Water closet. Every dwelling unit shall contain a bathroom within its walls, separate from the habitable rooms, which affords privacy and which is equipped with a water closet.
Lavatory. Every dwelling unit shall contain a lavatory which, when a water closet is required, shall be in the same room with said water closet.
Bathtub or shower. Every dwelling unit shall contain a room which affords privacy to a person in said room and which is equipped with a bathtub or shower.
Kitchen sink. Every dwelling unit shall contain a kitchen sink apart from the lavatory required under § 177-9A(2).
Water and sewer system. Every kitchen sink, lavatory basin, bathtub or shower and water closet required under the provisions of this section shall be properly connected to either a public water and sewer system or to an approved private water and sewer system. All sinks, lavatories, bathtubs and showers shall be supplied with hot and cold running water.
Water-heater facilities. Every dwelling unit shall be supplied with water-heating facilities which are installed in an approved manner, properly maintained and properly connected with hot-water lines to the fixtures required to be supplied with hot water under § 177-9A(5). Water-heating facilities shall be capable of heating water to such a temperature as to permit an adequate amount of water to be drawn at any kitchen sink, lavatory basin, bathtub, shower and laundry facility or other similar units.
Every dwelling and rooming house shall have heating facilities which are properly installed, are maintained in safe and good working condition and are capable of safely and adequately heating all habitable rooms, bathrooms and water closet compartments to a temperature of at least 65º F. at a distance of three feet above floor level under ordinary weather conditions.
Operation of heating facilities. Every heating or water-heating facility shall be installed and shall operate in accordance with the requirements of the BOCA Code or the Fire Prevention Code.
No person shall occupy or let to another for occupancy any dwelling unit or room for the purpose of living therein which does not comply with the following requirements.
Minimum ceiling heights. At least 1/2 of the floor area of every habitable room shall have a ceiling height of at least 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 a part of the floor area in computing the total floor area of the room for the purpose of determining the maximum permissible occupancy thereof.
Required space in dwelling units. Every dwelling unit shall contain a minimum gross floor area of not less than 150 square feet for the first occupant and 100 square feet for each additional occupant. The floor area shall be calculated on the basis of the total area of all habitable rooms.
Occupancy of rooming units. Occupancy of dwelling units and rooming units having only one habitable room shall be limited to two persons.
No person shall occupy as owner-occupant or let to another for occupancy any dwelling unit or rooming unit for the purpose of living therein which does not comply with the following requirements:
Natural light in habitable rooms. Every habitable room shall have at least one window of approved size facing directly to the outdoors or to a court. The minimum total window area, measured between stops, for every habitable room shall be 10% of the floor area of such room, except in kitchens when artificial light may be provided in accordance with the provisions of the Building Code. Whenever walls or other portions of a structure face a window or any room and such obstructions are located less than three feet from the window and extend to a level above that of the ceiling of the room, such a window shall not be deemed to face directly to the outdoors nor to a court and shall not be included as contributing to the required minimum total window area for the room.
Electric outlets required. Every electrical outlet and fixture shall be maintained in good and safe working condition and shall be connected to the source of electric power in an approved manner.
Adequate ventilation. Every habitable room shall have at least one window which can be easily opened or such other device as will adequately ventilate the room. The total openable window area in every habitable room shall be equal to at least 45% of the minimum window area size required in Subsection A, except where mechanical ventilation is provided in accordance with the provisions of the BOCA Code or Fire Prevention Code.
Ventilation and light in bathroom and water closet. Every bathroom and water closet compartment shall comply with the light and ventilation requirements for habitable rooms as required by Subsections A and C, except that no window shall be required in bathrooms or water closet compartments equipped with an approved ventilation system.
Responsibilities of owners of property, their agents and prospective occupants shall be as follows:
No owner or his agent shall sell, rent, transfer, grant, lease, let, mortgage with right of occupancy or otherwise dispose of the ownership or occupancy, whether or not for a consideration and whether such disposal of ownership or occupancy is temporary or permanent, of any dwelling unit, hotel, motel, rooming house, rooming unit, boardinghouse or premises on which a building is located and is used for human occupancy unless a Maintenance Code certificate, certifying that the building and premises are in compliance with all other ordinances of the Township of Mullica, shall first be obtained from the Code Officer of the Township. Such Maintenance Code certificate shall be granted or denied within 10 days from the date of the application for the same.
The Code Officer shall cause to be prepared appropriate application forms for such certificates, which forms shall be available at the office of the Code Officer.
The Code Officer shall also cause to be prepared appropriate forms of such certificates.
A charge of $75 to cover the cost of inspection in connection with such application shall be paid to the Code Officer at the time the application is filed and shall not be refundable. In the case of a rental property, the property owner shall not be required to pay a second application fee in the event of a change of tenants within 12 months after an inspection. The application fee of $75 shall suffice for all inspections for any change in tenancies during a single twelve-month period.
[Amended 3-10-1987 by Ord. No. 2-87]
Where preoccupancy inspections are performed by other reliable agencies, the findings of such surveys shall be deemed acceptable to the requirements of this code. In such cases, the certificate shall be issued upon presentation of pertinent documents and payment of the application fee of $25.
A property owner shall be entitled to the issuance of a conditional Maintenance Code certificate, provided that the purchaser of the property acknowledges the violations noted by the Code Officer and agrees that such violations shall be remedied within 90 days of the sale of the property. Extensions may be granted for an additional 90 days, provided that work is in progress.
The issuance of a Maintenance Code certificate is not a warranty with respect to the fitness of the subject property for any particular purpose. No one other than the owner of the property who has applied for the Maintenance Code certificate may rely upon it, and the certificate is merely verification that the subject property complies with the minimum requirements of the Township's Property Maintenance Code.
[Amended 7-10-1990 by Ord. No. 10-90; 5-26-1992 by Ord. No. 5-92]
This article may be enforced by the filing of a complaint against any person, firm, corporation, party of interest or occupant who shall violate any of the provisions of this article, and said party shall be subject to a fine of not more than $1,000 or imprisonment for not more than 90 days or community service of not more than 30 days, or any combination thereof. Every day in which said person, firm, corporation, party of interest or occupant remains in violation of the provisions of this article shall be deemed a separate offense. A continuance of a violation or a noncompliance with the provisions of this article shall be deemed a nuisance, and the Township Council shall have the right to apply to the courts of the state for injunctive relief or other relief in addition to the penalties prescribed herein.
Any person aggrieved by an order issued by the Township Council under this article may, within 30 days after the posting and service of such order, bring an action for injunctive relief to restrain the Code Officer and/or Township Council from carrying out the provisions of the order and for any other appropriate relief.