[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Committee of the Township of Washington 9-17-1979 by Ord. No. 64-79 (Sec. 12-4 of the Revised General Ordinances). Amendments noted where applicable.]
In accordance with the provisions of N.J.S.A. 40:49-5 1, the BOCA Basic Property Maintenance Code/1978 is hereby adopted as the standard governing and establishing the minimum acceptable standards for the maintenance of existing buildings, structures, premises and facilities to protect the public health, safety and general welfare. A copy of this BOCA Basic Property Maintenance Code/1978 is attached to and is hereby made a part of this chapter without the text being included herein.
Three copies of the BOCA Basic Property Maintenance Code/1978 have been placed on file in the Township Clerk's office for the use and examination by the public.
[Amended 3-21-2016 by Ord. No. 07-16]
The administrative and enforcing authority for the provisions of this chapter shall be the public officer designated by the Township unless otherwise specified herein.
[Amended 5-19-1980 by Ord. No. 23-80]
The BOCA Basic Property Maintenance Code/1978, Sections PM-110.2, PM-110.2.1, PM-110.2.2. and PM-110.3 are hereby amended to read as follows:
[Amended 3-21-2016 by Ord. No. 07-16]
The phrase "the Township of Washington, County of Morris, State of New Jersey," is hereby inserted in the second line of Section PM-100.1 on page 1 of the code.
The dollar amounts of "$10" and "$1,000," respectively, are hereby inserted in two places in the third line of Section PM-109.2 on page 7 of the code.
[Amended 10-15-1984 by Ord. No. 25-84]
The maximum imprisonment penalty of "90" days is hereby inserted in the fourth line of Section PM-109.2 on page 7 of the code.
The number of days "30" is hereby inserted in the second line of Section PM-111.4, on page 9 of the code.
[Added 12-17-1979 by Ord. No. 75-79]
The BOCA Basic Property Maintenance Code/1978, Section PM-111.0 is hereby amended to read as follows:
Editor's Note: Section 3 of this ordinance provided as follows: "Nothing in this ordinance is intended to limit the authority of the enforcing agency or Construction Official under the State Uniform Construction Code Act, P.L. 1975, c. 217 (N.J.S.A. 52:27D-119 et seq.) or any rules or regulations adopted thereunder."
[Added 11-17-1980 by Ord. No. 60-80; amended 3-21-2016 by Ord. No. 07-16]
The BOCA Basic Property Maintenance Code/1978, Article 3, Environmental Requirements, is hereby amended and supplemented by the addition of PM-301.12 to read as follows:
[Added 6-20-2011 by Ord. No. 10-11]
All residential premises shall be maintained free from weeds, grass or lawn growth in excess of 10 inches, except that this requirement shall not apply to farmland or to areas of natural growth that are not ordinarily maintained, including, but not limited to, areas containing wetlands or marshes, conservation easement areas or densely wooded areas. All noxious weeds shall be prohibited.
Editor's Note: Former Subsection B, regarding violations and penalties, was repealed 12-15-2014 by Ord. No. 17-14.
[Added 12-15-2014 by Ord. No. 17-14; amended 11-19-2018 by Ord. No. 16-18]
Definitions. As used in this section, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- ABANDONED PROPERTY
- As defined in accordance with the Abandoned Properties Rehabilitation Act, N.J.S.A. 55:19-78 et seq., and shall mean the following:
- (1) Except as provided in N.J.S.A. 55:19-83, any property that has not been legally occupied for a period of six months and which meets any one of the following additional criteria as noted in N.J.S.A. 55:19-81 may be deemed to be an abandoned property upon a determination by the Construction Official and/or Zoning Officer that:
- (a) The property is in need of rehabilitation in the reasonable judgment of the Construction Official and/or the Zoning Official, and no rehabilitation has taken place during that six-month period;
- (b) Construction was initiated on the property and was discontinued prior to completion, leaving the building unsuitable for occupancy, and no construction has taken place for at least six months as of the date of a determination by the Construction Official and/or Zoning Official pursuant to this section;
- (c) At least one installment of property tax remains unpaid and delinquent on that property in accordance with N.J.S.A. 54:4-1 et seq., as of the date of a determination by the Construction Official and/or Zoning Official pursuant to this section; or
- (d) The property has been determined to be a nuisance by the Construction Official and/or Zoning Official in accordance with N.J.S.A. 55:19-82.
- (2) A property which contains both residential and nonresidential space may be considered abandoned pursuant to N.J.S.A. 55:19-78 et seq., so long as 2/3 or more of the total net square footage of the building was previously legally occupied as residential space and none of the residential space has been legally occupied for at least six months at the time of the determination of abandonment by the Construction Official and/or the Zoning Officer and the property meets the criteria of either Subsection (1)(a) or (d) of this definition.
- (3) Property determined to be "abandoned property" in accordance with the meaning of such term in the Abandoned Properties Rehabilitation Act, N.J.S.A. 55:19-78 et seq., shall also be deemed to be abandoned property for the purposes of this section.
- (1) As defined in accordance with the Abandoned Properties Rehabilitation Act, N.J.S.A. 55:19-78 et seq., and shall mean the following:
- (a) The property has been found to be unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use pursuant to Section 1 of P.L. 1942, c. 112 (N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.3);
- (b) The condition of the property materially increases the risk of fire to the property and adjacent properties;
- (c) The property is subject to unauthorized entry leading to potential health and safety hazards; the owner has failed to take reasonable and necessary measures to secure the property; or the municipality has secured the property in order to prevent such hazards after the owner has failed to do so;
- (d) The presence of vermin or the accumulation of debris, uncut vegetation or physical deterioration of the structure or grounds have created potential health and safety hazards and the owner has failed to take reasonable and necessary measures to remove the hazards; or
- (e) The dilapidated appearance or other condition of the property materially affects the welfare, including the economic welfare, of the residents of the area in close proximity to the property, and the owner has failed to take reasonable and necessary measures to remedy the conditions.
- An owner shall include the title holder, any agent of the title holder having authority to act with respect to a vacant property, any foreclosing entity subject to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 46:10B-51 or any other entity determined by the Township to act with respect to the property.
- VACANT PROPERTY
- Any building used or to be used as a residence which is not legally occupied or at which substantially all lawful construction operations or residential occupancy has ceased for a period of at least three months, and any commercial property that has not been legally occupied or at which substantially all lawful construction operations have ceased for a period of at least three months, and which exhibits evidence of vacancy such that a reasonable person would believe that the property is vacant. Any property that contains all building systems in working order, is being maintained on a regular basis, has not been cited by the Township for any violation of municipal ordinance within such time and is being actively marketed by its owner for sale or rental shall not be deemed vacant. This section is not applicable to seasonal agricultural labor housing.
The owner of any vacant or abandoned property as defined herein shall, within 30 days after the building becomes vacant or within 30 days after assuming ownership of the property, whichever is later, file a registration statement for each such vacant property with the Township on forms provided by the Township for such purposes. The registration shall remain valid until the end of the calendar year. The owner shall be required to renew the registration annually, no later than January 31, as long as the building remains vacant property and shall pay a registration or renewal fee in the amount prescribed in Subsection D, Fee schedule, of this section for each property registered. The initial and renewal fees shall be prorated and/or credited accordingly upon legal occupancy.
Any owner of any building that meets the definition of "vacant property" or "abandoned property" prior to the adoption date shall file a registration statement for that property on or before the adoption date plus 60 days. The registration statement shall include the information required under Subsection C, Registration statement requirements; property inspection, of this section, as well as any additional information that the Construction Official and/or Zoning Official may reasonably require.
The owner shall notify the Township within 30 days of any change in the registration information by filing an amended registration statement on a form provided by the Township for such purpose.
The registration statement shall be deemed prima facie proof of the statements therein contained in any administrative enforcement proceeding or court proceeding instituted by the Township against the owner or owners of the building.
Registration statement requirements; property inspection.
After filing a registration statement or a renewal of a registration statement, the owner of any vacant or abandoned property shall provide access to the Construction Official and/or Zoning Official, if requested, following reasonable notice, during the period covered by the initial registration or any subsequent renewal. If an inspection is required of the interior of the property due to complaints or other cause, the fee for such inspection shall be the same as that for a continued certificate of occupancy inspection as provided in the applicable provisions of the Township Code.
The registration statement shall include the name, street address, and telephone number of a natural person 18 years of age or older, designated by the owner or owners as the authorized agent for receiving notices of code violations and for receiving process in any court proceeding or administrative enforcement proceeding, on behalf of such owner or owners in connection with the enforcement of any applicable code. The designated agent must have a contact number that will be available 24 hours per day on an emergency basis. The statement shall also include the name of the person responsible for maintaining and securing the property, if different from the designated agent.
An owner who is a natural person and who meets the requirements of this section as to availability with a contact number on a twenty-four-hour emergency basis may designate himself or herself as agent.
By designating an authorized agent under the provisions of this section, the owner consents to receive any and all notices of code violations concerning the registered vacant or abandoned property and all process in any court proceeding or administrative enforcement proceeding brought to enforce code provisions concerning the registered building by service of the notice or process on the authorized agent. Any owner who has designated an authorized agent under the provisions of this section shall be deemed to consent to the continuation of the agent's designation for the purpose of this section until the owner notifies the Township of a change of the authorized agent, or until the owner files a new annual registration statement. The designation of an authorized agent in no way releases the owner from any requirement of this section.
Fee schedule. The initial registration fee for each building shall be $500. The fee for the first renewal is $750. The fee for any subsequent renewal is $1,000. After five years, the registration fee shall be $5,000. The initial fee shall be prorated according to the month of registration and renewal fees shall be credited when a property becomes legally occupied during a renewal period.
Requirements for owners of vacant and/or abandoned property. The owner of any building that has become vacant and/or abandoned property, and any person maintaining, operating or collecting rent for any such building that has become vacant and/or abandoned, shall, immediately:
With the exception of vacant or abandoned single-family dwellings, post a sign, affixed to the inside of the building indicating the name, address and telephone number of the owner, the owner's authorized agent for the purpose of service of process (if designated pursuant to Subsection C, Registration statement requirements; property inspection, of this section), and the person responsible for the day-to-day supervision and management of the building, if such person is different from the owner holding title or authorized agent. The sign shall be of a size and placed in such a location so as to be legible from the nearest public street or sidewalk, whichever is nearer, but shall be no smaller than 15 inches by 17 inches; and
Enclose and secure the building against unauthorized entry as provided in the applicable provisions of the Township Code and maintain the sign required by this section until the building is again legally occupied or demolished or until repair or rehabilitation of the building is complete; and
Make provision for the maintenance of the lawn and yard, including regular grass cutting as required by the applicable provisions of the Township Code; and
Make provision for the cessation of the delivery of mail, newspapers and circulars to the property, including having the property listed on the exclusion list maintained by the Township for the delivery of circulars and advertisements to the property; and
Make provision for the winterizing of the property by the cessation of water service to the property and the draining of water lines, other than buildings with a fire sprinkler system; and
Make provision for the cessation of electric or gas utility services to the property, other than buildings with a fire sprinkler system; and
Make provision for the regular maintenance of the exterior of the property.
Administration. The Township Committee shall issue rules and regulations for the administration of the provisions of this section.
Any owner who is not in full compliance with this section or who otherwise violates any provision of this section or of the rules and regulations issued hereunder shall be subject to a fine of not less than $500 and not more than $1,000 for each offense. Every day that a violation continues shall constitute a separate and distinct offense. Fines assessed under this section shall be governed by § 1-3, General penalty, be recoverable from the owner and may be pursued by judgment, and once docketed, as a lien on the property.
For purposes of this section, failure to file a registration statement in time, failure to provide correct information on the registration statement, failure to comply with the provisions of Subsection E, Requirements for owners of vacant and abandoned property, of this section, or such other matters as may be established by the rules and regulations of the Township, shall be deemed to be a violation of this section.
Compliance with other provisions. Nothing in this section is intended to nor shall be read to conflict or prevent the Township from taking action against buildings found to be unfit for human habitation or unsafe structures as provided in applicable provisions of the Code of the Township and/or the Uniform Construction Code. Further, any action taken under any such code provision other than the demolition of a structure shall not relieve an owner from its obligations under this section.
[Added 12-15-2014 by Ord. No. 17-14]
Except as set forth in § 148-8D and herein, any person, firm, corporation or entity violating any provision of this chapter shall, upon conviction, be punishable as provided in § 1-3 of the Code of the Township of Washington. A creditor required to care, maintain, secure and upkeep a property under this chapter cited in a notice issued pursuant to § 148-8B shall be subject to a fine of $1,500 for each day of the violation, commencing 31 days following receipt of the notice, except if the violation presents an imminent risk to public health and safety, in which case the fine shall commence 11 days following the receipt of the notice.