[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Westwood 8-23-1966 by Ord. No. 621. Amendments noted where applicable.]
It is hereby found and declared that the existence or occupancy of any building or buildings, or parts thereof, in the Borough of Westwood which are so old, dilapidated or have become so out of repair as to be dangerous, unsafe, insanitary or otherwise unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use is inimical to the welfare and dangerous and injurious to the health and safety of the inhabitants of the Borough of Westwood.
A public necessity exists for the repair, closing or demolition of such building or buildings or parts thereof.
Pursuant to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.3 et seq., the Governing Body has adopted a resolution finding that there exists such building or buildings or parts thereof as described in N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.3 et seq.
Pursuant to the aforesaid statutes, it is the desire of the Governing Body of the Borough of Westwood to adopt an ordinance for the repair, closing or demolition of such building or buildings, all as provided for and within the purview of N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.3 et seq.
The following terms, whenever used or referred to in this chapter, shall have the following respective meanings for the purposes hereof, unless a different meaning clearly appears from the context:
- Any building or structure or part thereof for the use for human habitation or otherwise, and includes any outhouses, and appurtenances belonging thereto or usually enjoyed therewith.
- GOVERNING BODY
- The Mayor and Council of the Borough of Westwood.
- The holder or holders of title in fee simple.
- PARTIES IN INTEREST
- All individuals, associations and corporations who have interests of record in any building and any who are in actual possession thereof.
- PUBLIC AUTHORITY
- Any housing authority or any officer who is in charge of any department or branch of the Borough of Westwood relating to health, fire, building regulations or other activities concerning buildings in the Borough of Westwood.
- PUBLIC OFFICER
- The Building Inspector, who shall be charged with the enforcement of this chapter.
Whenever a petition is filed with the Building Inspector by a public authority or by at least five residents of the municipality 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 occupancy or use, due to dilapidation, disrepair, structural defects which may increase the hazards of fire, accident or other calamities, or there is a lack of adequate ventilation, light or sanitary facilities, or due to neglect, lack of maintenance or use, fire, accident or other calamities, or due to other conditions rendering such building or buildings unsafe or insanitary and dangerous or detrimental to the health or safety or otherwise inimical to the welfare of the residents, 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 the 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 the Building Inspector (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, and 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.
The rules of evidence prevailing in the courts of the State of New Jersey shall not be considered as controlling in such hearings before the Building Inspector.
The Building Inspector may determine that a building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use if he finds that conditions exist in such building which are dangerous or injurious to the health or safety of the occupants of such building and the occupants of neighboring buildings or other residents of the Borough of Westwood. Such conditions may include, without limiting the generality of those conditions described under N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.3 et seq., defects increasing the hazards of fire, accidents or other calamities, lack of adequate ventilation, light or sanitary facilities, dilapidation, disrepair, structural defects, or uncleanliness. And without in any way limiting the standards and conditions set forth in this section and without in any way requiring that any one or all of the conditions hereinafter set forth be found in order to declare a building unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use, the following are additional standards to guide the Building Inspector or his agent in determining the fitness of a building for human habitation or occupancy or use, to wit:
Condition of structure. The condition of the structure is such as to make it unsafe or insanitary through the presence of serious safety hazards resulting from the need for major repairs to the roof, walls, ceiling, floors, or stairs or through the presence of serious health hazards resulting from continuous dampness or exposure brought about by neglect or dilapidation.
Water supply: lack of potable running water within each dwelling or lack of hot water facilities available to each dwelling.
Sewerage system: no connection between plumbing fixtures and an adequate sewerage disposal system.
Toilet facilities: no flush toilet fit for use in each building.
Bath facilities: no bathtub or shower fit for use in each dwelling.
Kitchen facilities: lack of permanent, safe and reasonably efficient kitchen facilities within each dwelling unit, including a sink with running water and provisions for a cooking stove.
Lighting facilities: building inadequately wired for electricity.
Heating facilities: heating facilities inadequate or unsafe.
Light and ventilation: living room, bedroom or kitchen with no windows, or with windows opening on an airshaft, or toilet or bathroom without adequate ventilation.
The generality of the conditions rendering a building unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, as specified in this section, shall not be deemed in anywise limited by the foregoing specifications or conditions.
Any building or buildings, or parts thereof, which have been damaged to such an extent that nothing remains but the walls, or parts of the walls and other supports, shall, regardless of the safety and sturdiness of those remaining walls or parts thereof, be deemed inimical to the welfare of the residents of the Borough of Westwood, and the Borough may exercise its police powers to repair, demolish or cause the repairing or demolishing of the building or buildings, or parts thereof, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.3 et seq. and the procedures set forth therein.
When, 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 the 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 shall in no event exceed 90 days from the order, which time shall be set forth in the order, or, at the option of the owner, to vacate or have the 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 the said building within the time specified in the order, then the owner shall be required to remove or demolish the said building within a reasonable time, to be specified in the said order.
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. The Building Inspector shall 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 occupancy of this building is prohibited and unlawful."
If the owner fails to comply with an order to remove or demolish the building, the Building Inspector may cause such building to be removed or demolished or may contract for the removal or demolition thereof after advertisement and after receipt of bids therefor.
If an actual and immediate danger to life is posed by the threatened collapse of any fire-damaged or other structurally unsafe building, the public 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.
The amount of the cost of such repairs, alterations or improvements, or vacating and closing, or removal or demolition, when done by the Building Inspector, 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 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 of New Jersey, Chancery Division, by the Building Inspector, 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.
[Amended 8-19-2003 by Ord. No. 03-12]
Complaints or orders issued by the Building Inspector pursuant to this chapter shall be served upon any person or corporation either by personal delivery, or by leaving the complaint or order at the addressee's office or dwelling with a person 14 years of age or older, or by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the person's last known address. However, if the document is returned as refused or unclaimed, with no indication of a change of address, the service may be made by ordinary mail to the same address or, if upon the owner of a corporation, by serving the document to the Secretary of State, who shall be deemed the corporation's agent for service of process.
Any person affected by an order issued by the Building Inspector may petition the Chancery Division, Superior Court, for relief in accordance with Chapter 112, P.L. 1942, N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.3 et seq.
The remedies herein provided shall be exclusive remedies, and no person affected by an order of the Building Inspector shall be entitled to recover any damage for action taken pursuant to any order of the Building Inspector or because of the noncompliance by such person with any order of the Building Inspector.
In addition to the powers herein granted to the Building Inspector, he shall also have the following powers:
To investigate the building conditions in the Borough of Westwood in order to determine which buildings therein are unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use.
To administer oaths and 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 or employees as the Governing Body deems necessary to aid the Building Inspector in carrying out the purposes of this chapter.
Pursuant to resolution by the Governing Body, to delegate any of the functions and powers of the Building Inspector under this chapter to such officers and agents as may be designated in such resolution.
Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to abrogate or impair the powers of the court or of any department 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 by any other law or ordinance.
For the enforcement of the provisions of this chapter, the Building Inspector of the Borough of Westwood is hereby designated as the public officer and shall be paid such additional compensation, in addition to his salary as Building Inspector, as the Mayor and Council, in its discretion, shall deem necessary and appropriate.
Every building which shall have been damaged by fire or, for any other reason, is so dangerous by reason of bad construction or condition of walls, floors, or otherwise shall be held to be unsafe, and the Building Inspector, besides proceeding as hereinabove provided, shall also fix a notice of the dangerous character of the structure in a conspicuous place on the exterior of the building.
Any person convicted of a violation of any of the provisions hereof by unlawfully removing any notice affixed to any building or refusing to vacate any building, structure or premises, or part thereof, when lawfully ordered to vacate the same shall be punishable as provided in Chapter 1, General Provisions, Article III, General Penalty, of the Code of the Borough of Westwood.
The imposition of the fine or imprisonment for a violation of this chapter shall not be construed as in any manner affecting the enforcement of the other provisions hereof.