[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Committee of the Township of Mansfield by Ord. No. 11-84 (§ 8-3 of the 1975 General Ordinances). Amendments noted where applicable.]
The following terms, whenever used or referred to in this chapter, shall have the following respective meanings for the purposes hereof, unless a different meaning clearly appears from the context:
- Any building or structure, or part thereof, whether used for human habitation or otherwise, including any outbuildings and appurtenances belonging thereto or usually enjoyed therewith.
- CONSTRUCTION OFFICIAL
- The person, or designee, of the person appointed by the municipal appointing authority charged with the enforcement of this chapter.
- The holder or holders of the title in fee simple.
- PARTIES IN INTEREST
- All individuals, partnerships, associations, corporations, or other parties with a recorded interest in a building as well as any tenant, occupant, or other party in actual possession of a building.
- PUBLIC AUTHORITY
- Any housing authority or any official who is in charge of any department or branch of the government of the Township relating to health, fire, building regulations or to other activities concerning buildings in the Township.
Whenever it shall be found that there exists in the Township buildings which are unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use due to dilapidation, disrepair, structural defects increasing the hazards of fire, accidents, or other calamities, lack of adequate ventilation, light or sanitary facilities, or due to other conditions rendering such buildings unsafe or unsanitary and dangerous or detrimental to the health of safety or otherwise inimical to the welfare of the residents, the construction official shall, upon the filing of a petition by a public authority, or by at least five residents of the Township charging that any building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, or if it shall appear to such construction official, on his own motion, that any building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, make a preliminary investigation or cause such preliminary investigation to be made concerning the basis for such charges.
Buildings shall be considered unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, within the meaning hereof, when one or more of the following conditions are found to exist:
Condition of structure. The condition of the structure is such as to make it unsafe or unsanitary through the presence of serious safety hazards resulting from the need for major repairs to roof, walls, ceiling, floors or stairs, or through the presence of serious health hazards resulting from continuous dampness or exposure brought about by neglect or dilapidation.
Water supply. Lack of potable running water within each dwelling unit of any building or lack of hot water facilities available to each dwelling unit of any building.
Sewerage system. No connection between plumbing fixtures and adequate sewage disposal system.
Toilet facilities. No flush toilet, fit for use, in each dwelling unit of any building.
Bath facilities. No bathtub or shower, fit for use, in each dwelling unit of any building.
Kitchen facilities. Lack of permanent safe and reasonably efficient kitchen facilities within each dwelling unit of any building, including sink with running water and provisions for a cooking stove.
Lighting facilities. Building inadequately wired for electricity.
Heating facilities. Heating facilities inadequate or unsafe.
Light and ventilation. Living room, bedroom, or kitchen with no windows or with windows opening on an airshaft, or toilet or bathroom without adequate ventilation.
Unsecured building. Any building without adequate doors or windows in place capable of being locked or otherwise secured to prevent the unauthorized entrance into the building by any person.
If a preliminary investigation shall disclose to said construction official a basis for the charges filed, he shall issue and cause to be served upon the owner of and parties of interest in such building a complaint stating the charges in that respect. Said complaint shall also contain a notice that a hearing will be held before him at a place therein fixed not less than seven 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, by counsel, or otherwise, and give testimony at the time and place fixed in the complaint.
The rules of evidence prevailing in courts of law or equity shall not be controlling in a hearing before the construction official.
The construction official may determine that a building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use if he finds that conditions exist in such building which are dangerous or injurious to the health or safety of the occupants of such building, the occupants of neighboring buildings or other residents of the Township. Such conditions may include, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, defects increasing the hazards of fire, accidents or other calamities; lack of adequate ventilation, light or sanitary facilities; dilapidation; disrepair; structural defects; uncleanliness; and the conditions set forth in §§ 144-2 and 144-3 of this chapter.
When, after such notice and hearing, the construction official determines that the building under consideration is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, 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 the parties in interest, an order as follows:
Requiring the repair, alteration or improvement of the 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 a condition as to make it dangerous to the health and safety of the 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 a reasonable time to be specified in said order.
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 construction official may cause such building to be repaired, altered or improved, or to be vacated and closed. The construction official shall 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."
If the owner fails to comply with an order to remove or demolish the building, the construction official may cause such building to be removed or demolished or may contract for the removal or demolition thereof after advertisement and after receipt of bids therefor.
The amount of the cost of such repairs, alterations or improvements, or vacating and closing, or removal or demolition when done by the construction official, shall be a municipal lien against the real property upon which such cost was incurred. If the building is removed or demolished by the construction official, he shall sell the materials of such building and shall credit the proceeds of such sale against the cost of the removal or demolition, including the clearance, and, if necessary, leveling of the site, and any balance remaining shall be deposited in the superior court by the construction official, and shall be secured in such manner as may be directed by such court and shall be disbursed by such court to the persons found to be entitled thereto by final order or decree of such court; provided, however, that nothing in this section shall be construed to impair or limit in any way the power of the Township to define and declare nuisances and to cause their removal or abatement by summary proceeding or otherwise.
Complaints or orders issued by the construction 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 the construction official in the exercise of reasonable diligence, and the construction 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 a newspaper printed and published in the Township or circulated in the Township. 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 Warren County.
Any person affected by an order issued by the construction official may petition the superior court for relief in accordance with the provisions of NJ.S.A. 40:48-2.3 et seq., as amended.
The remedies herein provided shall be exclusive remedies, and no person affected by an order of the construction official shall be entitled to recover any damages for action taken pursuant to any order of the construction official or because of noncompliance by such person with any order of the construction official.
If an actual and immediate danger to life is posed by the threatened collapse of any fire-damaged or other structurally unsafe building, the construction 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.
In addition to the powers herein granted to the construction official, he shall also have the following powers:
To investigate the building conditions in the Township in order to determine which buildings therein are unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use.
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.
Nothing in this chapter 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, N.J.S.A. 52:27D-119 or any rules or regulations adopted thereunder.
For the enforcement of provisions of this chapter, the office of Rehabilitation Director is hereby created and appointment to the office shall be by the Township Committee for such term or terms and with such compensation as it may fix. The construction official may also serve as the Rehabilitation Director.
Every building which shall have been damaged by fire or other cause so as to be dangerous by reason of the bad condition of walls, floors, construction or otherwise, shall be held to be unsafe and the construction official, besides proceeding as hereinabove provided, shall also fix a notice of the dangerous character of the structure to a conspicuous place on the exterior of the building.
Violations of the provisions of this chapter shall be punishable as provided in § 1-17 of the Code of the Township of Mansfield.
The imposition of the fine or imprisonment for a violation of this chapter shall not be construed as in any manner affecting the enforcement of the other provisions hereof.