[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Health of the Township of Washington 3-15-1972 as Sec. 12-3 of the Revised General Ordinances. Amendments noted where applicable.]
[Amended 9-18-1989 by Ord. No. 22-1989]
In accordance with the provisions of N.J.S.A 40:49-5 1, the New Jersey State Housing Code (1980 Revision), as approved by the Department of Community Affairs, Division of Housing and as filed with the Secretary of State and as may be amended from time to time, is hereby adopted as a standard governing supplied utilities and facilities and other physical things and conditions essential to making dwellings safe, sanitary and fit for human habitation, occupancy or use and governing the condition of dwellings. A copy of the New Jersey State Housing Code is attached to and made a part of this chapter without the text being included herein.
Three copies of the New Jersey State Housing Code have been placed on file in the office of the Clerk for the use and examination of the public.
The administrative and enforcing authority for the provisions of this chapter shall be the Sanitary Inspector.
This chapter shall constitute the standards to guide the Sanitary Inspector in determining the fitness of any dwelling, dwelling unit, rooming unit or premises for human habitation, use or occupancy.
The Sanitary Inspector may make rules and regulations which interpret or amplify any provision of this chapter or for the purpose of making the provisions of this chapter more effective. No regulation shall be inconsistent with or alter or amend any provision of this chapter, and no regulation shall impose any requirement which is in addition to or greater than the requirements that are expressly or by implication imposed by any provision of this chapter. Rules and regulations shall be subject to the same penalty as other violations of this chapter.
The Sanitary Inspector or his agents or employees shall make inspections to determine the condition of dwellings, dwelling units, rooming units and premises located within the township. For the purpose of making inspections, the Sanitary Inspector or his agents are authorized to enter and examine any dwelling, dwelling unit, rooming unit or premises at such reasonable hours as the circumstances of the case permit. This section shall not be construed to prohibit the entry of the Sanitary Inspector or his agents at any time when an actual emergency exists, which tends to create a danger to public health or safety, or at any time when an inspection is requested by an owner or occupant.
Upon presentation of proper identification, the owner, occupant or person in charge of a dwelling, dwelling unit or rooming unit shall give the Sanitary Inspector or his agents free access to the premises for the purpose of inspection of or making any repairs or alterations which are necessary to effect compliance with this chapter.
The Sanitary Inspector or his agents may, upon affidavit, apply to the Municipal Judge of the township for a search warrant setting forth factually the actual conditions and circumstances that provide a reasonable basis for believing that a nuisance or violation of this chapter exists on the premises, and if the Municipal Judge is satisfied as to the matter set forth in the affidavit, he shall authorize the issuance of a search warrant permitting access to and inspection of that part of the premises on which the nuisance or violation may exist. A search warrant may also be obtained in connection with a general program of inspection.
Whenever the Sanitary Inspector determines that there are reasonable grounds to believe there has been a violation of any provision of this chapter or of any rule or regulation adopted pursuant thereto, he shall give notice of the alleged violation to the person responsible as hereinafter provided. The notice shall:
Be in writing.
Include a statement of the reasons why it is being issued.
Allow a reasonable time for the performance of any act it requires.
Be served upon the owner or his agent, or the occupant, as the case may require, provided that notice shall be deemed to be properly served upon such owner or agent or upon such occupant, if a copy thereof is served upon him personally, or if a copy thereof is sent, by certified mail, to his last known address, or if a copy thereof is posted in a conspicuous place in or about the dwelling affected by the notice, or if he is served with such notice by any other method authorized or required under the laws of this state.
The notice may contain an outline of remedial action which, if taken, will effect compliance with the provisions of this chapter and rules and regulations adopted pursuant thereto.
Any person affected by any notice which has been issued in connection with the enforcement of any provision of this chapter or of any rule or regulation adopted pursuant thereto may request and shall be granted a hearing on the matter before the Board of Health, provided that such person files in the office of the Board of Health a written petition requesting a hearing and setting forth a brief statement of the grounds therefor within 10 days after the day the notice is served.
Upon receipt of the petition, the Board of Health shall set a time and place for the hearing and shall give the petitioner written notice thereof.
At the hearing the petitioner shall be given an opportunity to be heard and to show why the notice should be modified or withdrawn.
The hearing shall be commenced not later than ten days after the day on which the petition is filed, provided that upon application of the petitioner the Board of Health may postpone the date of the hearing for a reasonable time beyond the ten-day period, if in its judgment the petitioner has submitted a good and sufficient reason for the postponement.
After the hearing the Board of Health shall sustain, modify or withdraw the notice, depending upon its findings as to whether the provisions of this chapter and the rules and regulations adopted pursuant thereto have been complied with. If the Board of Health sustains or modifies the notice, it shall be deemed to be an order. Any notice served pursuant to this chapter shall automatically become an order if a written petition for a hearing is not filed in the office of the Board of Health within ten days after the notice is served.
The proceedings at the hearings, including the findings and the decision of the Board of Health, shall be summarized, reduced to writing, and entered as a matter of public record in the office of the Board of Health. The record shall also include a copy of every notice or order issued in connection with the matter.
Any person aggrieved by the decision of the Board of Health may seek relief therefrom in any court of competent jurisdiction as provided by the laws of the state.
Whenever the Board of Health finds that an emergency exists which requires immediate action to protect public health or safety, it may, without notice or hearing, issue an order reciting the existence of such an emergency and requiring that such action be taken as it deems necessary to meet the emergency. Notwithstanding the other provisions of this chapter, such order shall be effective immediately. Any person to whom such order is directed shall comply therewith immediately, but upon petition, shall be afforded a hearing as soon as possible. After such hearing, depending upon the findings as to whether the provisions of this chapter and of the rules and regulations adopted pursuant thereto have been complied with, the Board of Health shall continue such order in effect, or modify it, or revoke it.
Whenever a petition is filed with the Board of Health 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 dwelling is unfit for human habitation as defined in the housing code, or whenever it appears to the sanitary inspector on his own motion that any dwelling is unfit for human habitation, 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 Board of Health at a place therein fixed not less than ten days nor more than 30 days after the serving of the 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 complaints; and that the rules of evidence prevailing in courts of law or equity shall not be controlling in hearings before the Board of Health.
If after notice and hearing the Board of Health determines that the dwelling under consideration is unfit for human habitation, as defined in the Housing Code, it shall state, in writing, its 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 building to be made by the owner, within a reasonable time which shall be set forth in the order, or at the option of the owner to vacate or to have the 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 the building within the time specified in the order, that the owner shall remove or demolish the building within a reasonable time as specified in the order of removal.
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 Board of Health may cause such building to be repaired, altered or improved, or to be vacated and closed; that the Board of Health 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."
If the owner fails to comply with an order to remove or demolish the building, that the Board of Health may cause such building to be removed or demolished or may contract for the removal or demolition thereof after advertisement and receipt of bids therefor.
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 township.
Repairs, removal or demolition.
The cost of repairs, alterations or improvements, or of vacating and closing, or removal or demolition, if any, or the amounts 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 Board of Health, it shall sell the materials of such building. There shall be credited against the cost of removal or demolition thereof 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 exceeds such costs, the balance remaining shall be deposited in the Superior Court by the Board of Health, shall be secured in such a 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 that nothing in this chapter shall be construed to impair or limit in any way the power of the township 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 60 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.
Complaints or orders issued by the Board of Health or its agent pursuant to this chapter shall be served upon persons either personally or by certified mail, but if the whereabouts of such persons are unknown and the same cannot be ascertained in the exercise of reasonable diligence and the Board of Health shall make an affidavit to that effect, then the serving of the complaint or order upon such persons may be made by publishing the same once each week for two successive weeks in a newspaper having circulation in the township. 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 shall be recorded with the Morris County recording officer.
The Sanitary Inspector 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 the township in order to determine which dwellings therein are unfit for human habitation.
To administer oaths, affirmations, examine witnesses and receive evidence.
To enter upon premises for the purpose of making examination, provided that such entries are made in such a 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 purpose 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 or 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 established hereby as the standard to be used in determining whether a dwelling is safe, sanitary and fit for human habitation.
The owner of any building located within the limits of the township who desires to demolish the same shall first obtain a permit for that purpose from the Building Subcode Official and shall pay a fee as provided in Chapter 56, Building Construction, § 56-7C, Demolition fees. The fee shall be paid prior to the issuance of any permit. The owner shall also furnish the township with a bond in the amount of $5,000, conditioned on the complete performance of the work in accordance with the terms of the application and permit, without injury to public property and without creation of a hazard to the public health, safety and welfare.