[HISTORY: Adopted by the City Council of the City of Pleasantville 6-7-1982 by Ord. No. 11-1982 as Ch. 83 of the 1982 Code. Amendments noted where applicable.]
It is hereby found and declared that the existence and occupation of dwellings in this municipality which are unfit for human habitation are inimical to the welfare and dangerous and injurious to the health and safety of the people of this municipality and that a public necessity exists for the repair, closing or demolition of such dwellings and that such dwellings shall be repaired, closed or demolished in the manner herein provided.
A Code Enforcement Official shall be appointed to exercise the powers prescribed by this chapter, and the term of said office shall be for a term of one year or until a successor shall be duly appointed.
The compensation of the Code Enforcement Official shall be as provided annually by the Mayor and Common Council.
When a petition is filed with the Code Enforcement Official by a public authority or at least five residents of this municipality, charging that any dwelling is unfit for human habitation, or whenever it appears to the Code Enforcement Official, on his own motion, that any dwelling is unfit for human habitation, the Code Enforcement Official shall, if his preliminary investigation discloses a basis for such charges, issue and cause to be served upon the owner of and parties in interest in such dwelling a complaint stating the charges in that respect and containing a notice that a hearing will be held before the Code Enforcement Official, or his designated agent, at a place therein fixed, not less than 10 days nor more than 30 days after the serving of said complaint; that the owner and parties in interest shall be given 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 courts of law or equity shall not be controlling in hearings before the Code Enforcement Official.
If, after such notice and hearing, the Code Enforcement Official determines that the dwelling under consideration is unfit for human habitation, 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 parties in interest an order:
If the repair, alteration or improvement of said dwelling can be made at a reasonable cost in relation to the value of the dwelling (which reasonable cost shall be not over 20% of the value of the dwelling), requiring the owner (to the extent and within the time specified in the order) to repair, alter or improve said dwelling to render it fit for human habitation or, at the option of the owner, to vacate and close the dwelling as a human habitation.
If the repair, alteration or improvement of said dwelling cannot be made at a reasonable cost in relation to the value of the dwelling (reasonable cost shall not exceed 20% of the value of said dwelling), requiring the owner (within the time specified in the order) to remove or demolish such dwelling.
If an owner fails to comply with an order to repair, alter or improve or, at the option of the owner, to vacate and close the dwelling, the Code Enforcement Official may cause such dwelling to be repaired, altered or improved or to be vacated or closed. The Code Enforcement Official may cause to be posted on the main entrance of any dwelling so closed a placard with the following words: "This building is unfit for human habitation. The use or occupation of this building for human habitation is prohibited and unlawful."
If the owner fails to comply with an order to remove or demolish the dwelling, the Code Enforcement Official may cause such dwelling to be removed or demolished.
The amount of such cost of such repairs, alterations or improvements, the cost of filing legal papers, expert witness fees, search fees and advertising costs or vacating and closing or removal or demolition shall be a municipal lien against the real property upon which such cost was incurred. If the dwelling is removed or demolished by the Code Enforcement Official, he shall sell the materials of such dwelling, if marketable, and shall credit the proceeds of such sale against the cost of removal or demolition, and any balance remaining shall be deposited in the Superior Court by the Code Enforcement Official, 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 municipality to define and declare nuisances and to cause their removal or abatement by summary proceedings or otherwise.
The Code Enforcement Official may determine that a dwelling is unfit for human habitation if he finds that the following conditions exist in such dwelling, which are dangerous or injurious to the health or safety of the occupants of such dwelling, the occupants of neighboring buildings or other residents of this municipality (without limiting the generality of the foregoing): defects therein increasing the hazards of fire, accident or other calamities; lack of adequate ventilation, light or sanitary facilities; dilapidation; disrepair; structural defects; uncleanliness; failure to comply with the requirements of the Building Code or the certificate of occupancy.
Complaints or orders issued by the Code Enforcement Official pursuant to this chapter shall be served upon persons, either personally or by registered mail, but if the whereabouts of such persons are unknown and the same cannot be ascertained by the Code Enforcement Official in the exercise of reasonable diligence and the Code Enforcement 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 each week for two successive weeks in the newspaper used for publication of legal notices by the City of Pleasantville. A copy of such complaint or order shall be posted in a conspicuous place on 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 recording officer.
The Code Enforcement Official is 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 the dwelling conditions in this municipality in order to determine which dwellings are unfit for human habitation.
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.
To appoint and fix the duties of such officers, agents and employees as he deems necessary to carry out the purposes of this chapter.
To delegate any of his functions and powers under this chapter to such officers and agents as he may designate.
[Added 5-19-1986 by Ord. No. 13-1986]
The position of Code Enforcement Official is hereby created.
The Code Enforcement Official shall supervise and be responsible for all Housing Inspectors in the Code Enforcement Department.
Notwithstanding any other remedy provided by this chapter, any person who violates the provisions of this chapter shall, upon conviction, be subject to a fine of not less than $100 nor more than $1,000, imprisonment for a term not exceeding 90 days and/or a period of community service not exceeding 90 days.