[HISTORY: Adopted by the City Council of the City of East Orange as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
[Adopted 1-26-1981 as Ord. No. 1-1981]
The Tax Collector is hereby designated, whenever necessary to protect the health and safety of residential tenants, to act as an agent for any landlord of a residential rental property within the City of East Orange where the landlord has failed to maintain heat in accordance with N.J.S.A. 26:3-31.
The designated agent may engage a fuel oil dealer to deliver fuel oil at a reasonable price per gallon and to refire the burner in order to restore the proper heating of any residential property rented by said landlord; provided, however, that at least 12 hours have elapsed if the outside air temperature is between 33º F. and 55º F., inclusive, or at least four hours have elapsed if the outside air temperature is 32º F. or less since the affected tenant has lodged a complaint with the Department of Property Maintenance, prior to which complaint a bona fide attempt has been made by the tenant or his representative to notify the landlord of the lack of heat and the landlord has failed to take appropriate action.
The City of East Orange shall issue a voucher to any fuel oil dealer who delivers fuel oil or refires the burner as set forth in § 153-1 hereinabove for the money amount due on the fuel oil delivered and the service for refiring the burner, if any. The voucher shall be paid in the manner provided for the approval and payment of claims pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40A:5-17.
Any landlord or his agent whose negligence or failure to act results in municipal action pursuant to § 153-1 of this article shall be liable to a civil penalty of not more than $300 for each affected dwelling unit in the residential rental property. Pursuant to P.L. 1980, c. 170, such penalty shall be recoverable by the City in a civil action by a summary proceeding under the Penalty Enforcement Law, N.J.S.A. 2A:58-1 et seq. Any action to correct or enforce any such penalty shall be brought in the Superior Court or Municipal Court. The amount of such penalty shall be paid to the City of East Orange to be used for general municipal purposes.
In any penalty enforcement proceeding brought pursuant to P.L. 1980, c. 170, the Court shall also order the landlord or his agent to reimburse the City of East Orange for the actual costs incurred for any fuel oil delivered and the service charge for refiring the burner, if any, and for reasonable attorney's fees and costs. The Court shall further be empowered to issue any appropriate injunctive orders and to authorize immediate collection of reimbursable costs due the City of East Orange out of the goods and chattels of the landlord, including all sums due or which may come due, as present or future rents. Any landlord who prevails in such an action shall be entitled to reimbursement by the City of East Orange for all reasonable costs and expenses. Such landlord, however, shall still remain responsible for the cost of any fuel oil delivered and any charge for refiring the burner incurred by the City.
Neither the City of East Orange nor any of its employees shall be liable for any damages to any person or property in enforcing this article, except for the gross negligence or malfeasance of any official, officer or employee of the City of East Orange, and under no circumstances shall the City of East Orange be held liable for damages from the lack of heat in the residential property.
The provisions of this article shall not apply to owner-occupied residential rental properties containing five units or fewer.