Township of Hamilton, NJ
Atlantic County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Committee of the Township of Hamilton as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Alarm systems — See Ch. 99.
Unfit buildings — See Ch. 130.
Unsafe buildings — See Ch. 133.
Construction codes — See Ch. 144.
Fire prevention — See Ch. 170.
Junkyards — See Ch. 199.
Littering — See Ch. 210.
Occupancy permits and residential rental units — See Ch. 222.
Solid waste — See Ch. 258.
Abandoned vehicles — See Ch. 288.
[Adopted 12-5-2011 by Ord. No. 1709-2011[1]]
[1]
Editor's Note: This ordinance repealed former Ch. 238, Property Maintenance, adopted 2-6-2006 by Ord. No. 1554-2006.

§ 238-1 Adoption of code by reference.

A certain document, three copies of which are on file in the office of the Township Clerk of the Township of Hamilton, being marked and designated as the "International Property Maintenance Code, 2009 edition," as published by the International Code Council, be and is hereby adopted as the Property Maintenance Code of the Township of Hamilton, in the State of New Jersey, for regulating and governing the conditions and maintenance of all property, buildings and structures; by providing the standards for supplied utilities and facilities and other physical things and conditions essential to ensure that structures are safe, sanitary and fit for occupation and use; and the condemnation of buildings and structures unfit for human occupancy and use, and the demolition of such existing structures as herein provided; providing for the issuance of permits and collection of fees therefor; and each and all of the regulations, provisions, penalties, conditions and terms of said Property Maintenance Code on file in the office of the Township Clerk are hereby referred to, adopted, and made a part hereof as if fully set out in this article, with the additions, insertions, deletions and changes, if any, prescribed in § 238-2 of this article.

§ 238-2 Changes to published text; code revisions specific to Township.

The following sections are hereby revised:
A. 
Section 101.1. Insert: "Township of Hamilton."
B. 
Section 102.3. Amend to read: "Repairs, additions or alterations to a structure or change in occupancy shall be done in accordance with the current codes adopted by the Township of Hamilton and the State of New Jersey."
C. 
Section 103.1. Amend the title and all references in this section from "Department of Property Maintenance Inspection" to "Division of Code Enforcement," and amend the title and all references to "code official" to "Code Enforcement Officer."
D. 
Section 103.5. Insert: "The fee schedule adopted, and periodically amended, by the Township Committee, which is available in the Division of Code Enforcement Office."
E. 
Section 106.4. Add the following at the end of the section: "In addition, any person who shall violate any provision of this code shall, upon conviction thereof, be subject to a fine of not less than $100 nor more than $1,000, at the discretion of the court."
F. 
Section 108.2. Add to section: "The closing of any vacant structure shall not occur until a complete premises search has been conducted by the Township of Hamilton Police Department, to confirm vacancy, and so that all public life, health, and safety concerns can be addressed as appropriate."
G. 
Section 111.1. Add to section: "The nonrefundable fee for filing an appeal shall be $100 per violation appealed."
H. 
Section 111.2.5. Amend to read: "Members shall serve without compensation."
I. 
Section 112.4. Insert: "...not less than $200 nor more than $1,000 per day for each day that work continues after being served with a stop-work order."
J. 
Section 202. Add to the definition of "person": "Person shall also include a creditor filing the summons and complaint in an action to foreclose."
[Added 12-15-2014 by Ord. No. 1779-2014]
K. 
Section 302. Add to section: "Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.12s, a creditor filing the summons and complaint in an action to foreclose shall be responsible for the care, maintenance, security and upkeep of the exterior of a vacant and abandoned property and, if located out-of-state, shall be responsible for appointing an in-state representative or agent to act for the foreclosing creditor."
[Added 12-15-2014 by Ord. No. 1779-2014[1]]
[1]
Editor's Note: This ordinance also redesignated former Subsections J through M as Subsections L through O, respectively.
L. 
Section 302.4. Insert: "10 inches."
M. 
Section 304.14. Insert: "April 1 to November 1."
N. 
Section 602.3. Insert: "October 1 to May 1."
O. 
Section 602.4. Insert: "October 1 to May 1."

§ 238-3 Notice of failure to comply.

[Amended 12-15-2014 by Ord. No. 1779-2014]
The Director of Community Development, Zoning Officer, Code Enforcement Officer, Construction Code Official, or other designated officer is authorized to notify, in writing, by mailing by certified mail, return receipt requested, and regular mail or hand delivering to the owner, or person or entity in control of the subject premises, or the agent of the owner, person in control or entity, advising him or the entity of the particular violation. In the event that the property is in foreclosure, notice may also be sent to the mortgagee in the manner set forth herein. If the notice is returned showing the letter was not delivered, a copy thereof shall be posted in a conspicuous place in or about the structure affected by such notice. The person or entity shall correct the violation within 30 days from the date of receipt of the notice, or within 10 days if the violation presents an imminent threat to public health and safety. Said notice shall be deemed to serve as a continuing notice for the remainder of the violation on the subject property in accordance with the provisions of this article.

§ 238-4 Failure or refusal to comply.

In the event that the person or entity owning said land shall refuse or neglect to abate or remedy the condition complained of, and which constituted a violation of this article, after said 20 days' notice, the Code Enforcement Officer or his designee shall cause the condition complained of to be abated and remedied.

§ 238-4.1 Violations: failure of out-of-state creditor to appoint in-state representative; failure of creditor to abate property maintenance violations.

[Added 12-15-2014 by Ord. No. 1779-2014]
A. 
An out-of-state creditor filing the summons and complaint of foreclosure that is found by the Municipal Court or by any other court of competent jurisdiction to be in violation of the requirement to appoint an in-state representative or agent as required by the provisions of N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.12s and this article shall be subject to a fine of $2,500 for each day of the violation. Any fines imposed shall commence on the day after the ten-day period set forth in N.J.S.A. 46:10B-51 for providing notice to the Municipal Clerk that a summons and complaint in an action to foreclose has been served.
B. 
A creditor subject to the provisions of this article that is found by the Municipal Court, or by any other court of competent jurisdiction, to be in violation of the requirement to correct a care, maintenance, security or upkeep violation cited in a notice issued pursuant to this article shall be subject to a fine of $1,500 for each day of the violation. Any fines imposed pursuant to this subsection shall commence 31 days following receipt of the notice, except if the violation presents an imminent risk to the public health and safety, in which case any fines shall commence 11 days following receipt of the notice.

§ 238-5 Unpaid charges to constitute lien on property.

If the owner, entity or person in possession of the dwelling or lands in question shall fail to abate the condition complained of within the time period specified after receipt of notice, the Code Enforcement Officer or his designee shall cause the condition complained of to be abated, either by action of the Department of Public Works or by engagement of an outside contractor, and shall present a report of the work accomplished to the Township Committee, along with a summary of the abatement undertaken to secure compliance. He or she shall certify the actual labor costs of same plus 25%, but not less than administrative fee of $100, to the Township Committee, which shall examine the report and certificate and, if it is correct, cause the cost as shown thereon to be charged against the dwelling or lands. A copy of the resolution approving the expenses shall be certified by the Township Clerk and filed with the Tax Collector, who shall be responsible for the collection thereof. The amount so charged shall forthwith become a lien upon the dwelling or lands and shall be added to and become and form part of the taxes next assessed and levied upon such dwelling and lands, shall bear interest at the same rate as the taxes, and shall be collected and enforced by the same officer and in the same manner as taxes. Costs shall be in addition to any penalties imposed for any violation of this article.

§ 238-6 Repealer.

Ordinance No. 1554-2006 of the Township of Hamilton, entitled "Property Maintenance," and all other ordinances or parts of ordinances in conflict herewith are hereby repealed.

§ 238-7 Severability.

If any section, subsection, sentence, clause or phrase of this article is, for any reason, held to be unconstitutional, such decision shall not affect the validity of the remaining portions of this article. The Township Committee hereby declares that it would have passed this article, and each section, subsection, clause or phrase thereof, irrespective of the fact that any one or more sections, subsections, sentences, clauses and phrases be declared unconstitutional.

§ 238-8 When effective.

This article and the rules, regulations, provisions, requirements, orders and matters established and adopted hereby shall take effect and be in full force and effect upon final passage, adoption and publication in the manner prescribed by law.

§ 238-9 Retroactive application.

Nothing in this article or in the Property Maintenance Code hereby adopted shall be construed to affect any suit or proceeding pending in any court or other tribunal, or any rights acquired, or liability incurred, or any cause or causes of action acquired or existing, under any act or ordinance hereby repealed as cited in § 238-6 of this article; nor shall any just or legal right or remedy of any character be lost, impaired or affected by this article. Any pending suit or matter shall be controlled by the ordinances in effect at the time of the alleged violation, which shall not be affected by the adoption of this article.
[Adopted 2-16-2016 by Ord. No. 1812-2016]

§ 238-10 Purpose and intent.

It is the purpose and intent of the municipality to establish a process to address the deterioration and blight of Municipality neighborhoods caused by an increasing amount of abandoned, foreclosed or distressed real property located within the municipality, and to identify, regulate, limit and reduce the number of abandoned properties located within the municipality. It is the municipality's further intent to participate in the county-wide registration program established by the Atlantic County Improvement Authority and administered by Community Champions Corporation as a mechanism to protect neighborhoods from becoming blighted due to the lack of adequate maintenance and security of abandoned and foreclosed properties.

§ 238-11 Definitions.

The following words, terms and phrases, when used in this article, shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this section, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning.
ABANDONED REAL PROPERTY
Any real property located in the municipality, whether vacant or occupied, that is in default on a mortgage, has had a lis pendens filed against it by the lender holding a mortgage on the property, is subject to an ongoing foreclosure action by the lender, is subject to an application for a tax deed or pending tax assessors lien sale, or has been transferred to the lender under a deed in lieu of foreclosure. The designation of a property as "abandoned" shall remain in place until such time as the property is sold or transferred to a new owner, the foreclosure action has been dismissed, and any default on the mortgage has been cured.
ACCESSIBLE PROPERTY/STRUCTURE
A property that is accessible through a comprised/breached gate, fence, wall, etc., or a structure that is unsecured and/or breached in such a way as to allow access to the interior space by unauthorized persons.
APPLICABLE CODES
To include, but not be limited to, the following chapters of the Township Code; Chapter 144, Construction Codes, Uniform; Chapter 203, Land Use and Development; Chapter 238, Property Maintenance; and the New Jersey Uniform Construction Code.
A. 
Properties that have broken or severely damaged windows, doors, walls, or roofs which create hazardous conditions and encourage trespassing; or
B. 
Properties whose maintenance is not in conformance with the maintenance of other neighboring properties causing a decrease in value of the neighboring properties; or
C. 
Properties cited for a public nuisance pursuant to the municipality Code; or
D. 
Properties that endanger the public's health, safety, or welfare because the properties or improvements thereon are dilapidated, deteriorated, or violate minimum health and safety standards or lacks maintenance as required by the municipality and zoning codes.
ENFORCEMENT OFFICER
Any law enforcement officer, building official, zoning inspector, code enforcement officer, fire inspector or building inspector, or other person authorized by the municipality to enforce the applicable code(s).
OWNER
Any person, legal entity or other party having any ownership interest whether legal or equitable, in real property. This term shall also apply to any person, legal entity or agent responsible for the construction, maintenance or operation of the property involved.
PROPERTY MANAGEMENT COMPANY
A local property manager, property maintenance company or similar entity responsible for the maintenance of abandoned real property.
VACANT
Any building or structure that is not legally occupied.

§ 238-12 Applicability.

These sections shall be considered cumulative and not superseding or subject to any other law or provision for same, but rather be an additional remedy available to the municipality above and beyond any other state, county or local provisions for same.

§ 238-13 Establishment of registry.

Pursuant to the provisions of § 238-10, the municipality or designee shall participate in the county-wide registration program established by the Atlantic County Improvement Authority and administered by Community Champions Corporation cataloging each abandoned property within the municipality, containing the information required by this article.

§ 238-14 Registration of abandoned real property.

A. 
Any mortgagee who holds a mortgage on real property located within the municipality of Hamilton Township shall perform an inspection of the property to determine vacancy or occupancy, upon default by the mortgagor. The mortgagee shall, within 10 days of the inspection, register the property with the Division of Code Enforcement, or designee, on forms or website access provided by the municipality, and indicate whether the property is vacant or occupied. A separate registration is required for each property, whether it is found to be vacant or occupied.
B. 
If the property is occupied but remains in default, it shall be inspected by the mortgagee or his designee monthly until:
(1) 
The mortgagor or other party remedies the default; or
(2) 
It is found to be vacant or shows evidence of vacancy at which time it is deemed abandoned, and the mortgagee shall, within 10 days of that inspection, update the property registration to a vacancy status on forms provided by the municipality.
C. 
Registration pursuant to this section shall contain the name of the mortgagee and the server, the direct mailing address of the mortgagee and the server, a direct contact name and telephone number for both parties, facsimile number and e-mail address for both parties, the folio or tax number, and the name and twenty-four-hour contact telephone number of the property management company responsible for the security and maintenance of the property.
D. 
A nonrefundable annual registration fee in the amount of $500 per property shall accompany the registration form or website registration.
E. 
All registration fees must be paid directly from the mortgagee, servicer, trustee, or owner. Third-party registration fees are not allowed without the consent of the municipality and/or its authorized designee.
F. 
This section shall also apply to properties that have been the subject of a foreclosure sale where the title was transferred to the beneficiary of a mortgage involved in the foreclosure and any properties transferred under a deed in lieu of foreclosure/sale.
G. 
Properties subject to this section shall remain under the annual registration requirement and the inspection, security and maintenance standards of this section as long as they remain vacant or in default.
H. 
Any person or legal entity that has registered a property under this section must report any change of information contained in the registration within 10 days of the change.
I. 
Failure of the mortgagee and/or owner to properly register or to modify the registration form from time to time to reflect a change of circumstances as required by this article is a violation of the article and shall be subject to enforcement.
J. 
Pursuant to any administrative or judicial finding and determination that any property is in violation of this article, the municipality may take the necessary action to ensure compliance with and place a lien on the property for the cost of the work performed to benefit the property and bring it into compliance.

§ 238-15 Maintenance requirements.

A. 
Properties subject to this article shall be kept free of weeds; overgrown brush; dead vegetation; trash; junk; debris; building materials; any accumulation of newspapers, circulars, flyers, or notices, except those required by federal, state or local law; discarded personal items, including, but not limited to, furniture, clothing, and large and small appliances; printed material; or any other items that give the appearance that the property is abandoned.
B. 
The property shall be maintained free of graffiti or similar markings by removal or painting over with an exterior grade paint that matches the color of the exterior structure.
C. 
Front, side, and rear yards, including landscaping, shall be maintained in accordance with the applicable code(s) at the time registration was required.
D. 
Yard maintenance shall include, but not be limited to, grass, ground covers, bushes, shrubs, hedges or similar plantings, decorative rock or bark or artificial turf/sod designed specifically for residential installation. Acceptable maintenance of yards and/or landscape shall not include weeds, gravel, broken concrete, asphalt or similar material.
E. 
Maintenance shall include, but not be limited to, watering, irrigation, cutting and mowing of required ground cover or landscape and removal of all trimmings.
F. 
Pools and spas shall be maintained so the water remains free and clear of pollutants and debris and shall comply with the regulations set forth in the applicable code(s).
G. 
Failure of the mortgagee and/or owner to properly maintain the property may result in a violation of the applicable code(s) and issuance of a citation or notice of violation in accordance with Chapters 144, 203, and 238 of the municipality of Hamilton Township's Code of Ordinances. Pursuant to a finding and determination by the municipality's Code Enforcement Officer/Board, Hearing Officer/Special Magistrate or a court of competent jurisdiction, the municipality may take the necessary action to ensure compliance with this section.
H. 
In addition to the above, the property is required to be maintained in accordance with the applicable code(s).

§ 238-16 Security requirements.

A. 
Properties subject to these sections shall be maintained in a secure manner so as not to be accessible to unauthorized persons.
B. 
A "secure manner" shall include, but not be limited to, the closure and locking of windows, doors, gates and other openings of such size that may allow a child to access the interior of the property or structure. Broken windows, doors, gates and other openings of such size that may allow a child to access the interior of the property or structure must be repaired. Broken windows shall be secured by reglazing of the window.
C. 
If a mortgage on a property is in default, and the property has become vacant or abandoned, a property manager shall be designated by the mortgagee to perform the work necessary to bring the property into compliance with the applicable code(s), and the property manager must perform regular inspections to verify compliance with the requirements of this article, and any other applicable laws.

§ 238-17 Public nuisance.

All abandoned real property is hereby declared to be a public nuisance, the abatement of which pursuant to the police power is hereby declared to be necessary for the health, welfare and safety of the residents of the municipality.

§ 238-18 Violations and penalties; schedule of civil penalties.

Any person who shall violate the provisions of this article may be cited and fined as provided in Chapters 144, 203 and 238 of the Township of Hamilton's Code of Ordinances and New Jersey Statutes, N.J.S.A. 55:19-78 et seq. The following table shows violations of these sections, as may be amended from time to time, which may be enforced pursuant to the provisions of this regulation; and the dollar amount of civil penalty for the violation of these sections as it may be amended. The descriptions of violations below are for informational purposes only and are not meant to limit or define the nature of the violations or the subject matter of the municipality Code sections, except to the extent that different types of violations of the Code section may carry different civil penalties. For each Code section listed in the schedule of civil penalties, the entirety of the section may be enforced by the mechanism provided in this section, regardless of whether all activities prescribed or required are described in the "Description of Violation" column. To determine whether a particular activity is prescribed or required by this Code, the relevant Municipality Code section(s) shall be examined.
Description of Violation
Civil Penalty
Failure to register abandoned real property on annual basis and/or any violation of the sections stated within
$500

§ 238-19 Inspections for violations.

Adherence to this article does not relieve any person, legal entity or agent from any other obligations set forth in any applicable code(s), which may apply to the property. Upon sale or transfer of title to the property, the owner shall be responsible for all violations of the applicable code(s) and the owner shall be responsible for meeting with the municipality's Code Enforcement Division within 45 days for a final courtesy inspection report.

§ 238-20 Additional authority.

A. 
If the enforcement officer has reason to believe that a property subject to the provisions of this article is posing a serious threat to the public health safety and welfare, the Code Enforcement Officer may temporarily secure the property at the expense of the mortgagee and/or owner, and may bring the violations before the municipality's Code Enforcement Board or code enforcement special magistrate as soon as possible to address the conditions of the property.
B. 
The Code Enforcement Board or Hearing Officer/special magistrate shall have the authority to require the mortgagee and/or owner of record of any property affected by this section, to implement additional maintenance and/or security measures, including, but not limited to, securing any and all doors, windows or other openings, employment of an on-site security guard or other measures as may be reasonably required to help prevent further decline of the property.
C. 
If there is a finding that the condition of the property is posing a serious threat to the public health, safety and welfare, then the code enforcement board or special magistrate may direct the municipality to abate the violations and charge the mortgagee with the cost of the abatement.
D. 
If the mortgagee does not reimburse the municipality for the cost of temporarily securing the property, or of any abatement directed by the Code Enforcement Board or special magistrate, within 30 days of the municipality sending the mortgagee the invoice, then the municipality may lien the property with such cost, along with an administrative fee of $500 to recover the administrative personnel services.

§ 238-21 Opposing or obstructing enforcement officer; penalty.

Whoever opposes, obstructs or resists any enforcement officer or any person authorized by the enforcement office in the discharge of duties as provided in this article shall be punishable as provided in the applicable code(s) or a court of competent jurisdiction.

§ 238-22 Immunity of enforcement officer.

Any enforcement officer or any person authorized by the municipality to enforce the sections herewithin shall be immune from prosecution, civil or criminal, for reasonable, good-faith entry upon real property while in the discharge of duties imposed by this article.

§ 238-23 Amendments.

Registration and penalty fees outlined in this article may be modified by a resolution, passed and adopted by the Hamilton Township Committee.