[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Council of the Township of Moorestown 10-22-1990 by Ord. No. 1523-90. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Certificates of continued occupancy — See Ch. 53.
Uniform construction codes — See Ch. 56.
Penalties for Code violations — See Ch. 66.
Fire prevention and protection — See Ch. 79.
Garbage and rubbish — See Ch. 92.
Subdivision of land — See Ch. 158.
Zoning — See Ch. 180.
Sewage disposal systems — See Ch. 208.
Sewer connections — See Ch. 210.
Editor's Note: This ordinance also provided for the repeal of former Ch. 192, Dwellings Unfit for Human Habitation, adopted by the Board of Health 6-20-1966 by Ord. No. H-21.
The Burlington County Health Department shall be the enforcing officer to exercise the powers prescribed by this chapter.
The enforcing officer is hereby authorized and directed to make inspections to determine the condition of dwellings, dwelling units, rooming units and premises located within the Township of Moorestown in order that he may perform his duty of safeguarding the health and safety of the occupants of dwellings and of the general public. For the purpose of making such inspections, the enforcing officer is hereby authorized to enter, examine and survey at all reasonable times all dwellings, dwelling units, rooming units and premises. The owner or occupant of every dwelling, dwelling unit and rooming unit or the person in charge thereof shall give the enforcing officer free access to such dwelling, dwelling unit or rooming unit and its premises at all reasonable times for the purpose of such inspection, examination and survey. Every occupant of a dwelling or dwelling unit shall give the owner thereof or his agent or employee access to any part of such dwelling or dwelling unit or its premises at all reasonable times for the purpose of making such repairs or alterations as are necessary to effect compliance with the provisions of this chapter or with any lawful rule or regulation adopted or any lawful order issued pursuant to the provisions of this chapter.
For the purpose of the within chapter, the enforcing officer may determine that a dwelling is unfit for human habitation if he finds that conditions exist in such dwelling which are dangerous or injurious to the health or safety of the occupants of such dwellings, the occupants of neighboring dwellings or other residents of the Township of Moorestown. Such conditions may include the following (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 or uncleanliness.
Pursuant to the provisions of P.L. 1946, c.21 (N.J.S.A. 40:49-5.1 et seq.), the New Jersey State Housing Code (1980 Revision), as approved by the Department of Community Affairs and filed in the Secretary of State's office, is hereby accepted, adopted and established as a standard to be used as a guide in determining the fitness of a building for human habitation or occupancy or use. A copy of the New Jersey State Housing Code (1980 Revision) is annexed to this chapter, and three copies of the same have been placed on file in the office of the municipal clerk and are available to all persons desiring to use and examine the same.
Whenever a petition is filed with the enforcing officer by a public authority, as defined in N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.4, or by at least five residents of the Township charging that any building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy, or whenever it appears to the enforcing officer (on his own motion) that any dwelling is unfit for human habitation, as herein defined, he 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 enforcing 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; 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 time and place 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 enforcing officer.
If, after such notice and hearing, the enforcing officer determines that the dwelling under consideration is unfit for human habitation, as herein defined, 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 requiring:
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, or, at the option of the owner, to vacate or to 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 persons on or near the premises and the owner fails to repair, alter or improve said building within the time specified in the order, that the owner remove or demolish said building within a reasonable time as specified in said order of removal.
That, 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 enforcing officer may cause such building to be repaired, altered or improved or to be vacated and closed; the enforcing officer may 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 occupation of this building is prohibited and unlawful."
That, if the owner fails to comply with an order to remove or demolish the building, the enforcing officer may cause such building to be removed or demolished or may contract for the removal or demolition thereof after advertisement for and receipt of bids therefor.
That the amount of the cost of the filing of legal papers, expert witnesses' fees, search fees and advertising charges incurred in the course of any proceeding taken under this chapter determined in favor of the municipality and the cost of such repairs, alterations or improvements or vacating and closing or removal or demolition, if any, or the amount of the balance thereof remaining after deduction of the sum, if any, realized from the sale of materials derived from such building or from any contract for removal or demolition thereof shall be a municipal lien against the real property upon which such cost was incurred. If the building is removed or demolished by the enforcing officer, he shall sell the materials of such building. There shall be credited against the cost of the removal or demolition thereof, including the clearance and, if necessary, leveling of the site, the proceeds of any sale of such materials or any sum derived from any contract for the removal or demolition of the building. If there are no such credits or if the sum total of such costs exceeds the total of such credits, a detailed statement of the aforesaid costs and the amount so due shall be filed with the municipal tax assessor or other custodian of the records of tax liens and a copy thereof shall be forthwith forwarded to the owner by certified mail. If the total of the credits exceed such costs, the balance remaining shall be deposited in the Superior Court by the enforcing officer; shall be secured in such manner as may be directed by such Court; and shall be disbursed according to the order or judgment of the Court to the persons found to be entitled thereto by final order or judgment 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. 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 to contest the reasonableness of the amount or the accuracy of the costs set forth in the municipal lien certificate.
If any actual and immediate danger to life is proposed by the threatened collapse of any fire-damaged or other structurally unsafe building, the enforcing officer 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.
Complaints or orders issued by the enforcing officer pursuant to this chapter shall be served upon persons either personally or by certified mail, but if the whereabouts of such persons is unknown and the same cannot be ascertained by said enforcing officer in the exercise of reasonable diligence, and said enforcing officer 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 circulating in the Township of Moorestown. A copy of such complaint or order shall be posted in a conspicuous place on the premises affected by the complaint or order, and a copy of such complaint or order shall be duly recorded or lodged for record with the county recording officer of the county in which the dwelling is located.
The enforcing officer is hereby authorized and empowered 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 in addition to others herein granted:
To investigate the dwelling conditions in said Township of Moorestown in order to determine which dwellings therein are unfit for human habitation.
To administer oaths and affirmations, examine witnesses and receive evidence.
To enter upon premises for the purpose of making examination, provided that 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.
No person shall occupy as owner-occupant or rent to another for occupancy any dwelling or dwelling unit for the purpose of living therein which does not conform to the provisions of the New Jersey State Housing Code (1980 Revision), established hereby as the standard to be used in determining whether a dwelling is safe, sanitary and fit for human habitation.
Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to abrogate or impair the power of the Township of Moorestown or any officer thereof to enforce any provisions of its charter or its ordinances or regulations nor to prevent or punish violations thereof; and the powers conferred by this chapter shall be in addition and supplemental to the powers conferred upon the Township by any other law or ordinance.