[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Kenilworth 10-23-1973 as Ord. No. 73-8. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Whenever a petition is filed with the Building Inspector by a private authority or by at least five residents of the Borough of Kenilworth or by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Kenilworth, charging that any building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, or whenever it appears to the Building Inspector (on his own motion) that any building is unfit for human habitation or use, the Building Inspector 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 building a complaint stating the charges in that respect and containing a notice that a hearing will be held before such Building Inspector at a place therein fixed not less than 10 days nor more than 30 days after the serving of said complaint, that the owners 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 or notice and that the rules of evidence in the courts shall not be controlling in hearings before the Building Inspector.
If, after such notice and hearing, the Building Inspector determines that the building under consideration is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, 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 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 have said building vacated and closed within the times 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 if the owner fails to repair, alter or improve said building within the time specified in the order, then the owner shall be required to remove or demolish said 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 Building Inspector may cause such building to be repaired, altered or improved, or to be vacated and closed, and the Building Inspector 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, the public 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.
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 borough 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 Building Inspector, he shall sell the materials of such building. There shall be credited against the cost of the 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, and a copy thereof shall be forthwith forwarded to the owner by registered mail. If the total of the credits exceeds such costs, the balance remaining shall be deposited in the Superior Court by the Building Inspector, shall be secured in such manner as may be directed by the 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 Borough of Kenilworth 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.
The Building Inspector may determine that a building is unfit for human habitation or use if he finds that conditions exist which are dangerous or injurious to the health or safety of the occupants of such building, the occupants of neighboring buildings or other residents or the Borough of Kenilworth. 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; and dilapidation.
Complaints or orders issued by the Building Inspector 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 same cannot be ascertained by the Building Inspector in the exercise of reasonable diligence and the Building Inspector 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 a newspaper printed and published in the Borough of Kenilworth or, in the absence of such newspaper, in one printed and published in the County of Union and circulating in the Borough of Kenilworth. 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 Register of Deeds for Union County.
The Building Inspector is authorized to exercise such powers as may be necessary and convenient to carry out and effectuate the purposes and provisions of Chapter 112 of the Laws of the State of New Jersey of 1942 and of this chapter, including the power to administer oaths and affirmations, examine witnesses and receive evidence and to enter upon premises for the purpose of making inspections, provided that such entries shall be made in such manner as to cause the least possible inconvenience to persons in possession.
No action taken by the Building Inspector in carrying out the provisions of this chapter and no action taken by any owner in compliance with any order issued by such Building Inspector shall be deemed to affect the rights of the owner under Article 14 of the Revised Zoning Ordinance of the Borough of Kenilworth.