Ventnor City, NJ
Atlantic County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Commissioners of the City of Ventnor City as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Building construction — See Ch. 86.
Buildings, unfit — See Ch. 89.
Uniform construction codes — See Ch. 98.
Electrical standards — See Ch. 110.
Fire prevention — See Ch. 122.
Garbage, rubbish and refuse — See Ch. 132.
Housing standards — See Ch. 138.
Nuisances — See Ch. 158.
Property maintenance — See Ch. 178.
Streets and sidewalks — See Ch. 197.
[Adopted 2-19-2015 by Ord. No. 2015-01]

§ 179-1 Report of foreclosure proceedings by in-state creditors.

A. 
In accordance with N.J.S.A. 46:10B-51, an in-state creditor serving a summons and complaint in an action to foreclose a mortgage on a residential property in the City shall, within 10 days of effectuating service, notify the City Clerk of the filing of the action and service of the complaint and summons against the subject property.
B. 
The notice to the City Clerk shall be in writing by mail or e-mail and shall provide:
(1) 
The street address of the property.
(2) 
The block and lot numbers of the property.
(3) 
Indicate if the property being foreclosed on is an affordable unit pursuant to the Fair Housing Act (N.J.S.A. 52:27D-301 et al.).
(4) 
The full name and contact information for the representative of the creditor who is responsible for receiving complaints of property maintenance and code violations.
C. 
The notice described in this section may contain notice information regarding more than one property in foreclosure.
D. 
The Clerk shall forward a copy of the notice to the designated enforcement officer under § 179-4 as soon as practicable after receipt.

§ 179-2 Report of foreclosure proceedings by out-of-state creditors.

A. 
In accordance with N.J.S.A. 46:10B-51 and N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.12s, an out-of-state creditor serving a summons and complaint in an action to foreclose a mortgage on a residential property in the City shall, within 10 days of effectuating service, notify the City Clerk of the filing of the action and service of the complaint and summons against the subject property.
B. 
The notice to the City Clerk shall be in writing by mail or e-mail and shall provide:
(1) 
The street address of the property.
(2) 
The block and lot numbers of the property.
(3) 
Indicate whether the property being foreclosed on is an affordable unit pursuant to the Fair Housing Act (N.J.S.A. 52:27D-301 et al.).
(4) 
The full name and contact information for the representative of the creditor who is responsible for receiving complaints of property maintenance and code violations.
(5) 
The notice to the City Clerk shall also contain the full name and contact information of an in-state representative or agent designated by the creditor be responsible for the care, maintenance, security, and upkeep of the exterior of the property if it becomes vacant and abandoned.
C. 
The notice described in this section may contain notice information regarding more than one property in foreclosure.
D. 
The Clerk shall forward a copy of the notice to the designated enforcement officer under § 179-4 as soon as practicable after receipt.

§ 179-3 Creditor responsibility for property exterior.

A. 
A creditor serving a summons and complaint in an action to foreclose a mortgage on a residential property in the City shall be responsible for the care, maintenance, security, and upkeep of the exterior of the property should the property become vacant or abandoned before or during the pendency of the foreclosure proceedings.
B. 
A creditor's care, maintenance, security, and upkeep responsibilities under this article shall continue until title to the property vests with the creditor, title vests with a person or entity other than the debtor or creditor, or the foreclosure complaint is dismissed.
C. 
The substance of a creditor's care, maintenance, security, and upkeep obligations shall be those that:
(1) 
Are set forth or referenced in Chapters 86, 89, 98, 110, 122, 132, 138, 158, 178, or 197 of the City Code; and
(2) 
Relate to residential property exteriors.

§ 179-4 Designated enforcement officers.

The City employees or officials respectively responsible for enforcement of the provisions of Chapters 86, 89, 98, 110, 122, 132, 138, 158, 178, and 197 shall be responsible for the enforcement of those provisions on creditors subject to this article to the same extent they would be responsible for enforcement against a title owner.

§ 179-5 Determination of "vacant and abandoned."

A. 
A property shall be considered vacant and abandoned where the property is unoccupied by the title owner, a mortgagor, or a lessee and at least two of the following conditions exist:
(1) 
Overgrown or neglected vegetation;
(2) 
Accumulation of newspapers, circulars, flyers, or mail on the property;
(3) 
Disconnected gas, electric, or water utility service to the property;
(4) 
Accumulation of hazardous, noxious, or unhealthy substances or materials on the property;
(5) 
Accumulation of junk, litter, trash, or debris on the property;
(6) 
Absence of window treatments such as blinds, curtains, or shutters;
(7) 
Absence of furnishings and personal items;
(8) 
Statements of neighbors, delivery persons, or government employees indicating that the residence is vacant and abandoned;
(9) 
Windows or entrances to the property that are boarded up or closed off or multiple window panes that are damaged, broken and unrepaired;
(10) 
Doors to the property that are smashed through, broken off, unhinged, or continuously unlocked;
(11) 
A risk to the health, safety or welfare of the public, or any adjoining or adjacent property owners, exists due to acts of vandalism, loitering, criminal conduct, or the physical destruction or deterioration of the property;
(12) 
An uncorrected violation of a municipal building, housing, or similar code during the preceding year, or an order by municipal authorities declaring the property to be unfit for occupancy and to remain vacant and unoccupied;
(13) 
The mortgagee or other authorized party has secured or winterized the property due to the property being deemed vacant and unprotected or in danger of freezing;
(14) 
A written statement issued by any mortgagor expressing the clear intent of all mortgagors to abandon the property; or
(15) 
Any other reasonable indicia of abandonment.
B. 
A property shall be considered vacant and abandoned where the creditor brings its action for foreclosure in a summary manner pursuant to any statutory or common law authority to foreclose upon vacant or abandoned property in such a manner.

§ 179-6 Notice to creditor of violation.

A. 
A designated enforcement officer under § 179-4 shall provide notice to the creditor, through the creditor's designated representatives, of any violation of this article by virtue of the creditor's failure to provide for the care, maintenance, security, and upkeep of the exterior of a vacant or abandoned residential property.
B. 
The notice shall provide a description of the conditions that gave rise to the violation.
C. 
The notice shall require that the creditor correct the violation within 30 days of receipt of the notice or, where the violation presents an imminent threat to public health and safety, within 10 days of the receipt of the notice.
D. 
If the notice is for a violation presenting an imminent threat to public health and safety, the notice shall so indicate.

§ 179-7 Fines and recovery of public funds.

A. 
An out-of-state creditor found by a court of competent jurisdiction to have violated this article by failing to designate an in-state representative or agent pursuant to § 179-2B shall be subject to a fine of $2,500 for each day of the violation commencing on the first day after the ten-day period for notice to the City Clerk under § 179-2A.
B. 
A creditor found by a court of competent jurisdiction to have violated this article by failing to correct a care, maintenance, security, or upkeep violation cited in a notice issued pursuant to § 179-6 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 the creditor's receipt of the notice, except if the violation presents an imminent risk to public health, in which case any fines shall commence 11 days following the creditor's receipt of the notice.
C. 
If, after the correction period under § 179-6 has expired, the City expends public funds in order to correct a violation of a creditor's care, maintenance, security, or upkeep obligation, the City shall have the same recourse against the title owner of the property, including but not limited to the filing of municipal liens and the recourse provided under N.J.S.A. 55:19-100.

§ 179-8 Allocation of collected fines.

No less than 20% of any monies collected pursuant to § 179-7A and B shall be utilized by the City for code enforcement purposes.
[Adopted 2-18-2016 by Ord. No. 2016-01]

§ 179-9 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.

§ 179-10 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 compromised/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 municipality's Zoning Code, the municipality's Code of Ordinances ("municipality Code"), and the New Jersey Building 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.

§ 179-11 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.

§ 179-12 Establishment of registry.

Pursuant to the provisions of § 179-9, 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.

§ 179-13 Registration of abandoned real property.

A. 
Any mortgagee who holds a mortgage on real property located within the municipality of Ventnor City 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.

§ 179-14 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, notices, except those required by federal, state or local law, discarded personal items, including, but not limited to, furniture, clothing, 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 Chapter 86 (which incorporates the provisions of Sections 89, 98, 110, 122, 132, 138, 158, 178 and 197) of the municipality of Ventnor City'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).

§ 179-15 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.

§ 179-16 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.

§ 179-17 Penalties; schedule of civil penalties.

Any person who shall violate the provisions of this article may be cited and fined as provided in Chapter 86 (which incorporates the provisions of Sections 89, 98, 110, 122, 132, 138, 158, 178 and 197) of the municipality of Ventnor City 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

§ 179-18 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.

§ 179-19 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 measure, 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.

§ 179-20 Opposing, 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.

§ 179-21 Immunity of enforcement officer.

Any enforcement officer or any person authorized by the municipality to enforce the sections here within 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.