Township of Evesham, NJ
Burlington County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Council of the Township of Evesham as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
[Adopted 10-16-2012 by Ord. No. 24-10-2012]

§ 41-1 Public Officer designated.

The Public Officer, charged with the responsibility for identifying abandoned properties and giving notice as set forth in N.J.S.A. 55:19-82, shall be that officer designated by the Manager pursuant to N.J.S.A. 55:19-80.

§ 41-2 Duties of Public Officer.

A. 
The Public Officer shall identify all properties within the municipality which are deemed abandoned pursuant to N.J.S.A. 55:19-78 et seq. The abandoned properties so identified shall include any and all properties found unfit for occupancy pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 58 of this Code.
[Amended 5-6-2014 by Ord. No. 15-5-2014]
B. 
Each item of abandoned property shall be identified by tax block and lot number, the name of the owner of record (if known), and the street address of the lot.
C. 
Upon identification of abandoned property, the Public Officer shall create and maintain a list of such property to be called the "Abandoned Property List." Properties may be added to the list at any time or deleted from the list at any time the Public Officer finds that the property no longer meets the definition of an abandoned property. An interested party may request that a property be included on the abandoned property list following the procedure set forth in N.J.S.A. 55:19-105.
D. 
An abandoned property shall not be included on the Abandoned Property List if rehabilitation is being performed in a timely manner, as evidenced by building permits issued and diligent pursuit of the rehabilitation work authorized by those permits. A property on which an entity other than the municipality has purchased or taken assignment from the municipality of a tax sale certificate, which has been placed on the Abandoned Property List, may be removed from the list in accordance with the provisions of N.J.S.A. 55:19-103. Notwithstanding the foregoing, a property deemed unfit pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 58 of this Code shall be subject to an order setting forth a specific time within which the repair, alteration or improvement of such unfit structure shall be made.
[Amended 5-6-2014 by Ord. No. 15-5-2014]

§ 41-3 Additional duties of Public Officer; notice.

A. 
The Public Officer, within 10 days of the establishment of the abandoned property list, or any additions thereto, shall send a notice, by certified mail, return receipt requested, and by regular mail, to the owner of record of every property included on the list and shall cause the list to be published in the official newspaper of the municipality, which publication shall constitute public notice. The published and mailed notices shall identify the property determined to be abandoned, setting forth the owner of record (if known), the tax lot and block number, and street address. The Public Officer, in consultation with the Tax Collector, shall also send out a notice by regular mail to any mortgagee, servicing organization, or property tax processing organization that receives a duplicate copy of the tax bill pursuant to Subsection d of N.J.S.A. 54:4-64. When the owner of record is not known for a particular property and cannot be ascertained by the exercise of reasonable diligence by the Tax Collector, notice shall not be mailed but instead shall be posted on the property in the manner provided in N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.7. The mailed notice shall indicate the factual basis for the Public Officer's finding that the property is abandoned property as that term is defined in N.J.S.A. 55:19-81, and the rules and regulations promulgated thereunder, specifying the information relied upon in making such finding. In all cases, a copy of the mailed or posted notice shall also be filed by the public officer in the office of the Burlington County Clerk. This filing shall have the same force and effect as a notice of lis pendens under N.J.S.A. 2A:15-6.
B. 
The Public Officer shall seek reimbursement for the postage costs and search fees associated with providing notice in accordance with Subsection A of this section from the authority (as defined in N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.4), or its subsidiaries, in accordance with procedures and rules promulgated by the Department of Community Affairs.

§ 41-4 Criteria for determination of abandonment.

[Amended 5-6-2014 by Ord. No. 15-5-2014]
A. 
Any property that has not been legally occupied for a period of six months and meets any one of the following criteria, as determined by the Public Officer, may be deemed abandoned:
(1) 
The property is in need of rehabilitation, in the judgment of the Public Officer, and no rehabilitation has taken place during the six-month period;
(2) 
Construction was initiated on the property and then discontinued for a period of at least six months, leaving the building unsuitable for occupancy;
(3) 
At least one installment of real property tax remains unpaid or delinquent; or
(4) 
The property has been determined to be a nuisance pursuant to N.J.S.A. 55:19-82.
B. 
A property which contains both residential and nonresidential space may be considered abandoned so long as two-thirds or more of the 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 and otherwise meets the criteria of either Subsection A(1) or (4) above.
C. 
Notwithstanding the foregoing, a property shall not be placed on the Abandoned Property List if an entity other than the municipality has purchased a tax sale certificate with respect to the same and the owner of the certificate 1) has continued to pay all municipal taxes and liens on the property in the year when due and 2) has taken action to initiate foreclosure proceedings within six months after the property is eligible for such action and diligently pursues the same. In addition, a property used on a seasonal basis shall not be deemed abandoned unless it meets two of the additional criteria set forth in Subsection A above.

§ 41-5 Options for enforcement by municipality.

[Added 5-6-2014 by Ord. No. 15-5-2014]
The Public Officer may, as appropriate and in the discretion of the Public Officer, proceed to obtain repair, alteration, improvement or demolition of a property on the Abandoned Property List, including those deemed unfit for occupancy, pursuant to either the provisions authorized by N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.3 et seq. as implemented by Chapter 58 of this Code or as authorized by N.J.S.A. 55:19-54 through 55:19-59 and N.J.S.A. 55:19-78 through 55:19-107, as set forth below. Pursuant to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 55:19-82, a property determined by the Public Officer to be a nuisance under the provisions of Subsection 82[1] of the statute shall be subject to the notice provisions of Chapter 58.
[1]
Editor's Note: So in original.

§ 41-6 Remedies available under Abandoned Properties Rehabilitation Act.

[Added 5-6-2014 by Ord. No. 15-5-2014]
The Public Officer shall have all of the powers available to the municipality, its agents, servants and employees, under the Abandoned Properties Rehabilitation Act (N.J.S.A. 55:19-78 et seq.). Specifically, the Public Officer may:
A. 
When the owner or party in interest has failed to submit or initiate a rehabilitation plan, bring a summary action in Superior Court to transfer possession and control of the property to the municipality for the development of such a plan. Upon being granted possession and control, in addition to adopting a rehabilitation plan, the municipality may commence and maintain further actions to:
(1) 
Conserve, protect or dispose of the property;
(2) 
Recover costs and expenses of the rehabilitation; and
(3) 
If owner does not apply for reinstatement of control as providedfor by N.J.S.A. 55:19-92, sell the property as directed by the court.
B. 
After filing a notice of intent to take control of the property pursuant to N.J.S.A. 55:19-86, enter onto the property as provided for in Subsection c of this section of the statute in order to inspect, secure, stabilize or repair the property for purposes of preparing a rehabilitation plan.
C. 
Upon a proper showing to the court, seek to obtain title to the property or sell same with the proceeds of such transaction to be distributed, in the following priority, for:
(1) 
The costs and expenses of sale;
(2) 
Other government liens;
(3) 
Repayment to the municipality for any borrowing or indebtedness granted priority lien status pursuant to N.J.S.A. 55:19-98;
(4) 
A reasonable development fee to the municipality consistent with the standards established by the Department of Community Affairs or New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency for rehabilitation programs;
(5) 
Other valid liens and security interests in accordance with their priority; and
(6) 
The owner.
D. 
With the approval of the court, place a lien on the property to cover the costs of proceeding under the chapter and N.J.S.A. 55:19-78 et seq.

§ 41-7 Additional powers available to municipality.

[Added 5-6-2014 by Ord. No. 15-5-2014]
In addition to those powers set forth above, the municipality may proceed to tax sale on the property pursuant to N.J.S.A. 55:19-56, designate a qualified rehabilitation entity to act on behalf of the municipality in rehabilitating the property, borrow funds to facilitate the powers given to the municipality under the law and seek priority lien status for such borrowings. The purpose of this chapter is to provide the municipality with all powers granted to it by the legislature under N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.3 et seq., N.J.S.A. 55:19-54 et seq., and N.J.S.A. 55:19-78 et seq., which are incorporated herein and made a part hereof.

§ 41-8 Additional notice required.

[Added 9-16-2014 by Ord. No. 27-9-2014]
Notice of violations of property maintenance, building or other property codes for any property declared vacant and abandoned pursuant to this chapter shall be given to a foreclosing creditor pursuant to the procedures of § 58-5.2 of this Code as required by P.L. 2014, c. 35.
[Adopted 4-4-2017 by Ord. No. 8-4-2017[1]]
[1]
Editor's Note: This ordinance also changed the title of this Chapter 41 from "Abandoned Property" to its current title.

§ 41-9 Purpose.

A. 
It is the intent of this chapter and articles to, through the adoption of this article, establish a vacant property management system and authorize new, and changes to existing, policies and procedures for the registration, maintenance and compliance monitoring of vacant properties as a mechanism to protect and preserve the public health, safety, welfare, security, neighborhood vitality, economic vitality and the quiet enjoyment of residents, by:
(1) 
Requiring all property owners, including lenders, trustees and service companies, to properly maintain vacant, unimproved and/or foreclosing properties; and
(2) 
Regulating the maintenance of vacant, unimproved and/or foreclosing properties in order to prevent unsecured unsafe structures in neighborhoods and neighborhood blight.
B. 
In addition to any other remedies in law or equity not set forth herein, enforcement authority shall be vested in the Code Enforcement Department including, but not limited to, the Code Enforcement Department and its respective inspectors. The Construction Department, County Health Department, Police Department, Fire Department and the Department of Public Works shall also have enforcement authority with respect to this article. The Township Manager may also designate, when necessary, additional enforcement duties for other departments to protect neighborhoods from becoming blighted through the lack of adequate maintenance and security of vacant properties.

§ 41-10 Definitions.

As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
DWELLING UNIT
Shall mean and include that portion of a building or structure rented or offered for rent to one or more tenants or family units. A room or series of connected rooms designed for permanent residency, containing living, cooking, sleeping and sanitary facilities. The dwelling unit shall be self-contained and shall not require the use of outside stairs (other than those required for initial access to the structure), passage through another dwelling unit or other indirect route to get to any portion of the dwelling unit. Any cottage, bungalow, room or group of rooms in occupying all or part of a floor or floors in a building, with housekeeping facilities for dwelling purposes.
A. 
Any condition that on its own, or combined with other conditions present, would lead a reasonable person to believe that the property is vacant or has the potential to become vacant. Such conditions include, but are not limited to, a property that is under a current notice of default and/or notice of Sheriffs sale and/or pending tax lien sale or has been foreclosed upon by the mortgagee or has been conveyed to the mortgagor, beneficiary or trustee via a deed in lieu of foreclosure; overgrown and/or dead vegetation, accumulation of newspapers, circulars, flyers and/or mail, past-due utility notices and/or disconnected utilities, accumulation of trash, junk and/or debris, the absence of window coverings such as curtains, blinds and/or shutters, the absence of furnishings and/or personal items consistent with residential habitation, statements by neighbors, passersby, delivery agents, or government employees that the property is vacant.
B. 
An unoccupied property, apartment or dwelling unit that the owner or responsible party intends to make habitable shall be considered a vacant property subject to the requirements of this article herein defined until which time the Municipal Code Enforcement Official or designee has deemed the unit habitable in accordance with applicable codes or the unit has been demolished.
OWNER
Every mortgagor, mortgagee, executor, administrator of estate, trustee, agent, real estate agency, property manager or interested parties, who alone or severally with others, has legal or equitable title to any dwelling, dwelling unit, mobile dwelling unit or parcel of land, vacant or otherwise; or
A. 
Has care, charge or control of any dwelling, dwelling unit or parcel of land, vacant or otherwise, in any capacity, including but not limited to agent, executor, executrix, administrator, administratrix, trustee or guardian of the estate of the holder of legal title; or
B. 
Is a mortgagee in possession of any such property; or
C. 
Is an agent, trustee or other person appointed by the courts and vested with possession or control of any such property; or
D. 
Is an officer or trustee of the association of unit owners of a condominium. Each such person is bound to comply as if he were the owner. However, this article shall not apply to any condominium association or co-op that forecloses or initiates the foreclosure process for unpaid assessments due or owing the association; or
E. 
Every person who operates a rooming house; or
F. 
Is a trustee who holds, owns or controls mortgage loans for mortgage backed securities transactions and has initiated the foreclosure process.
SECURING
Such measures as may be directed by the Township Code Enforcement Officer or his or her designee that assist in rendering the property inaccessible to unauthorized persons, including but not limited to the repairing or replacement of fences and walls, chaining/padlocking of gates, the repair, replacement or boarding of doors, windows and/or other openings. Boarding shall be completed to a minimum of the current HUD securing standards at the time the boarding is completed or required.
VACANT
A building, structure, property or unimproved land that is unoccupied or not legally occupied.

§ 41-11 Vacant properties.

A. 
Registration. Effective immediately, the owner of any vacant property as defined herein shall, within 30 calendar days after the building becomes vacant property or within 30 calendar days after assuming ownership of the vacant property, whichever is later, or within 10 calendar days of receipt of notice by the municipality, file a registration statement for such vacant property with the Township Clerk on forms provided by the Township Clerk for such purposes. Failure to receive notice by the municipality shall not constitute grounds for failing to register the property.
(1) 
Each property having a separate block and lot number as designated in the official records of the municipality shall be registered separately.
(2) 
The registration statement shall include the name, street address, telephone number, and e-mail address (if applicable) of a person 18 years 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; and the name, street address, telephone number, and e-mail address (if applicable) of the firm and the actual name(s) of the firm's individual principal(s) responsible for maintaining the property. The individual or representative of the firm responsible for maintaining the property shall be available by telephone or in person on a twenty-four-hour-per-day, seven-day-per-week basis. The two entities may be the same or different persons. Both entities shown on the statement must maintain offices in the State of New Jersey or reside within the State of New Jersey.
(3) 
The registration shall remain valid for one year from the date of registration except for the initial registration time which shall be from the time of registration through December 31 of the year of registration. The owner shall be required to renew the registration annually as long as the building remains a vacant property and shall pay a registration or renewal fee in the amount prescribed in Subsection D of this section for each vacant property registered.
[Amended 7-18-2017 by Ord. No. 16-7-2017]
(4) 
The annual renewal shall be completed by January 1 each year.
[Amended 7-18-2017 by Ord. No. 16-7-2017]
(5) 
The owner shall notify the Clerk within 30 calendar days of any change in the registration information by filing an amended registration statement on a form provided by the Clerk for such purpose.
(6) 
The registration statement shall be deemed prima facie proof of the statement therein contained in any administrative enforcement or court proceeding instituted by the Township against the owner or owners of the building.
B. 
Access to vacant properties. The owner of any vacant property registered under this article shall provide access to the Township to conduct exterior and interior inspections of the building to determine compliance with municipal codes, upon reasonable notice to the property owner or designated agent. Such inspections shall be carried out on weekdays during the hours of 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., or such other time as may be mutually agreed upon between the owner and the Township.
C. 
Responsible owner or agent.
(1) 
An owner who meets the requirements of this article with respect to the location of his or her residence or workplace in the State of New Jersey may designate himself or herself as agent or as the individual responsible for maintaining the property.
(2) 
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 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 purposes of this section until the owner notices the Township of Evesham, in writing, of a change of authorized agent or until the owner files a new annual registration statement.
(3) 
Any owner who fails to register vacant property under the provisions of this article shall further be deemed to consent to receive, by posting on the building, in plain view, and by service of notice at the last known address of the owner of the property on record within the Township of Evesham by regular and certified mail, any and all notices of code violations and all process in an administrative proceeding brought to enforce code provisions concerning the building.
D. 
Fee schedule. The initial registration fee for each building shall be $500. The fee for the first renewal is $1,500, and the fee for the second renewal is $3,000. The fee for any subsequent renewal beyond the second renewal is $5,000.
Vacant Property Registration Fee Schedule
Initial registration
$500
First renewal
$1,500
Second renewal
$3,000
Subsequent renewal
$5,000
E. 
Requirements of owners of vacant property. The owner of any building that has become vacant property, and any person maintaining or operating or collecting rent for any such building that has become vacant, shall, within 30 days thereof:
(1) 
Enclose and secure the building against unauthorized entry as provided in the applicable provisions of the Township of Evesham Code, or as set forth in the rules and regulations supplementing those codes; and
(2) 
Post a sign affixed to the building indicating the name, address and telephone number of the owner, the owner's authorized agent for the purposes of process, 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 posted on the interior of a window facing the street to the front of the property that is visible from the nearest public street or sidewalk, whichever is nearer, and shall be no smaller than eight inches by 10 inches; and
(3) 
Secure the building from unauthorized entry and maintain the sign until the building is again legally occupied or demolished or until repair or rehabilitation of the building is complete; and
(4) 
Ensure that the exterior grounds of the structure, including yards, fences, sidewalks, walkways, rights-of-way, alleys, retaining walls, attached or unattached accessory structures and driveways, are well maintained and free from trash, debris, loose litter, and grass and weed growth, vehicles and accumulation of newspapers/flyers/notices; and
(5) 
Continue to maintain the structure in a secure and closed condition and keep the grounds in a clean and well maintained condition, and ensure that the sign is visible and intact until the building is again occupied, demolished, or until repair and/or rehabilitation of the building is complete.
(6) 
Pools and spas shall be kept in working order so that the water remains clear and free of pollutants and debris or drained and kept dry. In either case, properties with pools and/or spas must comply with the minimum security fencing requirement of the Township.
F. 
Violations/penalty
(1) 
Any person who violates any provisions of this section or the rules and regulations issued hereunder shall be fined not less than $100 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 recoverable from the owner and shall be a lien on the property.
(2) 
For purposes of this section, failure to file a registration statement within 30 calendar days after a building becomes vacant property or within 30 calendar days after assuming ownership of a vacant property, whichever is later, or within 10 calendar days of receipt of notice by the municipality, and failure to provide correct information on the registration statement, or failure to comply with the provisions of such provisions contained herein, shall be deemed to be violations of this article.
(3) 
Any fine(s) or cost(s) associated with cleaning up the property that remains uncollected or unpaid shall, by resolution of the Township Council, become a lien upon the property, which lien shall hereafter form part of the taxes next to be assessed and levied upon said lands, the same to bear interest at the same rate as taxes to be collected and enforced by the same officers and in the same manner as taxes.