[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Committee of the Township of East Hanover 5-17-1973 as Art. 1 of Ch. 6, of the Revised Ordinances. Sections 71-1, 71-3A, 71-4, 71-7 and 71-9A and B amended at time of adoption of Code; see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. I. Other amendments noted where applicable.]
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- Any building or structure or part thereof, whether used for human habitation or otherwise, and includes any outhouses and appurtenances belonging thereto or usually enjoyed therewith.
- The holder or holders of the title in fee simple.
- PARTIES IN INTEREST
- All individuals, associations and corporations who have interests of record in a building and any who are in actual possession thereof.
- PUBLIC AUTHORITY
- Any housing authority or any officer who is in charge of any department or branch of the government of the township, county or state relating to health, fire, building regulations or to other activities concerning buildings in the township.
It has been found and declared by resolution adopted on April 8, 1965, that there exists in the township building or buildings or parts thereof which are unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use due to dilapidation, defects increasing the hazards of fire, accidents or other calamities, lack of ventilation, light or sanitation facilities, or due to other conditions rendering such building or buildings or part thereof unsafe, unsanitary or dangerous or detrimental to the health or safety or otherwise inimical to the welfare of the residents of the township. It is therefore necessary to exercise the police powers of the township to repair, close or demolish, or cause or require the repairing, closing or demolition of, such building or buildings or part thereof in the manner provided, pursuant to the statute applicable thereto.
The public officer is hereby authorized 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 powers in addition to others herein granted:
To investigate building conditions in the township in order to determine which buildings therein are unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use.
To administer oaths and 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 delegate any of his functions and powers under this chapter to such assistants and other employees as he may require in the performance of his duties.
To appoint and fix the duties of such officers, agents and employees as he deems necessary to carry out the purposes of this chapter.
Whenever a petition is filed with the public officer by a public authority or by at least five residents of the township, charging that a building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, or whenever it appears to the public officer on his own initiative that any building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, the public officer shall make a preliminary investigation. If the investigation discloses a basis for such charges, he shall issue and cause to be served upon the owner and parties in interest of such building a complaint stating the charges in that respect. The complaint shall also contain a notice that a hearing will be held before the public officer 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. The notice shall state that the owner and parties in interest have the right to file an answer to the complaint and to appear in person or otherwise and give testimony at the place and time fixed in the complaint, and that the rules of evidence prevailing in the courts shall not be controlling in hearings before the public officer. The complaint shall be served in the manner provided in § 71-7 hereof.
After notice and hearing, the public officer may determine that the building under consideration 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, among other things, include the following:
Defects therein increasing the hazards of fire, accident or other calamities.
Lack of adequate ventilation, toilet facilities and running water, light or sanitary facilities.
Editor's Note: The enforcement of provisions requiring the repair or removal of buildings that are unfit because of their failure to meet structural standards is basically within the province of the Construction Official under this chapter, while the enforcement of such provisions because of the failure of dwellings to meet health standards is within the province of the Health Official/Sanitarian under Ch. 182, Dwellings, Unfit. In this connection, see §§ 71-11 and 182-8.
Dilapidation, disrepair, structural defects or uncleanliness.
If, after the notice and hearing, the public officer 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. He shall then issue and cause to be served upon the owner thereof and parties in interest an order. The order shall require 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, and it shall give the option to the owner to vacate or have the 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 persons on or near the premises and the owner fails to repair, alter or improve said building within the time specified in the order described in Subsection A hereof, then the owner shall be required by a further order to remove or demolish the said building within a reasonable time as specified in the said order of removal.
Complaints, notices and orders issued by the public officer pursuant to this chapter shall be served upon persons either personally or by registered or certified mail. If the whereabouts of such persons is unknown and the same cannot be ascertained by the public officer in the exercise of reasonable diligence, and he shall make an affidavit to that effect, then the serving of such complaint, notice or order upon such persons may be made by publishing the same once 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. A copy of such complaint, notice or order shall be posted in a conspicuous place on the premises affected by the complaint, notice or order. A copy of such complaint, notice or order shall be duly recorded with the Clerk of Morris County.
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 public officer may cause such building to be repaired, altered or improved, or to be vacated and closed. The public officer may cause to be posted on the main entrance to 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 public officer may cause such building to be removed or demolished, or he may contract for the removal or demolition thereof after advertisement for and receipt of bids therefor.
The amount of the cost of:
Filing of legal papers, expert witnesses' fees, search fees and advertising charges in the course of any proceeding taken under this chapter determined in favor of the township; and
Such repairs, alterations or improvements, or vacating and closing, or removal or demolition, as the case may be, shall be a municipal lien against the real property upon which such cost was incurred. If the building is removed or demolished by the public officer, he shall sell the materials of such building. The proceeds of any sale of such materials or any sum derived from any contract for the removal or demolition of the building shall be credited against the cost of the removal or demolition thereof, including the clearance and, if necessary, leveling of the site. If there are no such credits, or if the total sum of such costs exceeds the total of such credits, a detailed statement of the aforesaid costs and the amount so due shall be filed as a lien certificate with the Township Board of Tax Assessors or other custodian of tax liens and a copy thereof shall be sent forthwith to the owner by registered or certified mail.
If the total of the credits exceeds such costs, the balance remaining shall be deposited by the public officer in the Superior Court of New Jersey and shall be secured in such manner as may be directed by such Court. The proceeds shall be disbursed according to the order or judgment of such Court to the persons found entitled thereto by final order or judgment of the 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 of New Jersey to contest the reasonableness of the amount or the accuracy of the costs set forth in the lien certificate.
Any person aggrieved by an order issued by the public officer under this chapter shall be entitled to the remedies prescribed by Chapter 112 of the Laws of 1942, as amended by Chapters 37 and 428 of the Laws of 1953 (N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.8).
This chapter shall not be construed to impair or limit in any way the power of the township to define and declare public nuisances and to cause their removal or abatement by summary proceedings or otherwise.
Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to abrogate or impair the powers of any department of the township to enforce any provisions of its Charter or its ordinances or regulations or to prevent or punish violations thereof.
The powers conferred by this chapter shall be in addition and supplemental to the power conferred by any other ordinance or regulation of the township or state law.