City of Watertown, WI
Jefferson/Dodge County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Common Council of the City of Watertown by Ord. No. 68-39 (Ch. 21 of the former City Code). Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Building construction — See Ch. 253.
Electrical standards — See Ch. 282.
Fires and fire prevention — See Ch. 303.
Health and sanitation — See Ch. 319.
Nuisances — See Ch. 390.
Plumbing standards — See Ch. 419.
Zoning — See Ch. 550.
A. 
Scope.
(1) 
Title. This chapter shall be known as the "Minimum Housing Standards Code for Dwellings and Multifamily Dwellings" and is herein referred to as the "Housing Code of the City of Watertown, Wisconsin."
(2) 
Purpose. The purpose of this chapter is to protect the public health, safety and welfare in buildings used for dwelling purposes as hereinafter provided, by:
(a) 
Establishing minimum standards for basic equipment and facilities for light, ventilation, space heating and sanitation; for safety from fire; for space, use and location; for safe and sanitary maintenance; and for cooking equipment in all dwellings and multifamily dwellings now in existence.
(b) 
Fixing the responsibilities of owners, operators and occupants of dwellings and multifamily dwellings.
(c) 
Providing for administration, enforcement and penalties.
(3) 
Matters covered. The provisions of this chapter shall apply to all structures used for human habitation which are now, or may become in the future, substandard with respect to structure, protection against fire hazard, equipment or maintenance, inadequate provisions for light and air, lack of proper heating, unsanitary conditions, and overcrowding, or otherwise may be deemed to constitute a menace to the safety, health or welfare of their occupants, except as provided in Subsection B(4). The existence of such conditions, factors or characteristics adversely affects public safety, health and welfare and leads to the continuation, extension and aggravation of urban blight. Adequate protection of the public, therefore, requires the establishment and enforcement of these minimum housing standards.
(4) 
Travel trailers and mobile homes. All movable units used for human habitation, and the areas, grounds or parcels on which they are located, shall comply with the requirements of this chapter.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. II).
B. 
Applicability. Every portion of a building or premises used or intended to be used for residential purposes, except hotels and motels serving transient guests only, rest homes, convalescent homes, and nursing homes, shall comply with the provisions of this chapter, irrespective of when such buildings shall have been constructed, altered or repaired, except as hereinafter provided.
(1) 
Application of Building Code. Any alterations to buildings or changes of use therein which may be caused directly or indirectly by the enforcement of this chapter shall be done in accordance with Chapter 253, Building Construction, of this Municipal Code.
(2) 
Application of zoning law. Nothing in this chapter shall permit the establishment of or conversion to a multifamily dwelling in any zone except where permitted by the zoning law, nor the continuation of such nonconforming use in any zone except as provided for in Chapter 550, Zoning, of this Municipal Code.
(3) 
Conflict with other ordinances. Except as provided in Subsection B(4), in any case where a provision of this chapter is found to be in conflict with a provision of any zoning, building, fire, safety or health ordinance or code of this municipality existing on the effective date of this chapter, the provision which establishes the higher standard for the promotion and protection of the safety and health of the people shall prevail. In any case where a provision of this chapter is found to be in conflict with a provision of any other ordinance or code of this municipality existing on the effective date of this chapter which establishes a lower standard for the promotion and protection of the safety and health of the people, the provisions of this chapter shall prevail, and such other ordinances or codes are hereby declared to be repealed to the extent that they may be found in conflict with this chapter.
(4) 
Existing buildings. This chapter establishes minimum requirements for the initial and continued occupancy of all buildings used for human habitation and does not replace or modify requirements otherwise established for the construction, repair, alteration or use of buildings, equipment or facilities except as provided in this section.
(5) 
Existing remedies. Nothing in this chapter shall be deemed to abolish or impair existing remedies of the municipality or its officers or agencies relating to the removal or demolition of any buildings which are deemed to be dangerous, unsafe or unsanitary.
C. 
Enforcement authority.
(1) 
Enforcement officer. It shall be the duty and responsibility of the Health Officer, Building Inspector, Fire Inspector, Electrical Inspector and Director of Public Works, either severally or as a group, to enforce the provisions of this chapter as herein provided.
(2) 
Administrative liability. Except as may otherwise be provided by statute or local law or ordinance, no officer, agent or employee of the municipality charged with the enforcement of this chapter shall render himself personally liable for any damage that may accrue to persons or property as a result of any act required or permitted in the discharge of his duties under this chapter. No person who institutes, or assists in the prosecution of, a criminal proceeding under this chapter shall be liable to damages hereunder unless he acted with actual malice and without reasonable grounds for believing that the person accused or prosecuted was guilty of an unlawful act or omission. Any suit brought against any officer, agent or employee of the municipality as a result of any act required or permitted in the discharge of his duties under this chapter shall be defended by the legal representative of the municipality until the final determination of the proceedings therein.
(3) 
Inspections. The building officials shall make or cause to be made inspections to determine the conditions of dwellings, multifamily dwellings, dwelling units, rooming houses, rooming units and premises in order to safeguard the safety, morals and welfare of the public under the provisions of this chapter. The building officials are authorized to enter any dwelling, dwelling unit, multifamily dwelling, rooming house or premises at any reasonable time for the purpose of performing their duties under this chapter. The owner, operator or occupant of every dwelling, multifamily dwelling, dwelling unit, rooming unit or the person in charge thereof shall give the Building Official free access thereto and to all parts thereof and to the premises on which it is located at all reasonable times for the purpose of such inspection, examination and survey. It shall be unlawful for any person to refuse entrance or impede an inspector or officer authorized under this chapter in the performance of his duties, and every such inspector or officer shall have the right to enter, examine and survey all premises, grounds, structures, dwellings and multifamily dwellings and every part thereof at all reasonable times upon display of proper identification.
(4) 
Access by owner or operator. Every occupant of a dwelling unit or rooming unit shall give the owner or operator thereof or his agent or employee access to any part of such dwelling unit, rooming unit or its premises at reasonable times for the purpose of making such inspections, maintenance, repairs or alterations as are necessary to comply with the provisions of this chapter.
D. 
Condemnation.
(1) 
Dangerous structures. If all or part of any building or structure (including among others a fence, billboard or sign) or the equipment for the operation thereof (including among others the heating plant, plumbing, electric wiring, moving stairways, elevators and fire-extinguishing apparatus) shall be found in the opinion of the enforcing official to be in an unsafe condition, dangerous to life, limb or property, he shall proceed to have the same condemned pursuant to the applicable provisions of § 66.0413, Wis. Stats., or such other code or codes of the municipality pertaining to unsafe structures.
[Amended by Ord. No. 02-48]
(2) 
Structures unfit for human occupancy. Wherever the Building Official finds that any dwelling or multifamily dwelling constitutes a hazard to the safety, health or welfare of the occupants or to the public because it lacks maintenance; or is in disrepair, unsanitary, vermin-infested or rodent-infested; or because it lacks the sanitary facilities or equipment, or otherwise fails to comply with the minimum provisions of this chapter, but has not yet reached such state of complete disrepair as to be condemned as a dangerous structure as hereinbefore provided, he may declare such dwelling or multifamily dwelling as unfit for human habitation and order it to be vacated. If any dwelling or multifamily dwelling or any part thereof is occupied by more occupants than permitted under this chapter or was erected, altered or occupied contrary to law, such dwelling or multifamily dwelling shall be deemed an unlawful structure, and the Building Official may cause such dwelling to be vacated. It shall be unlawful to again occupy such dwelling until it or its occupation, as the case may be, has been made to conform to the law.
(3) 
Notice. Notice of the declaration of any building under this chapter as unfit for human habitation and order to vacate it shall be served as provided in § 66.0413(1)(h), Wis. Stats.
[Amended by Ord. No. 02-48]
(4) 
Posting of notice. Any dwelling or multifamily dwelling declared as unfit for human habitation shall be posted with a placard by the Building Official. The placard shall include the following:
(a) 
Name of City.
(b) 
The name of the authorized department having jurisdiction.
(c) 
The chapter and section of the code under which it is issued.
(d) 
An order that the dwelling or multifamily dwelling when vacated must remain vacant until the provisions of the order are complied with and the order to vacate is withdrawn.
(e) 
The date that the placard is posted.
(f) 
A statement of the penalty for defacing or removal of the placard.
(5) 
Form of notice. Whenever the Building Official has declared a dwelling or multifamily as unfit for human habitation, it shall be done as described in § 66.0413(1)(br), Wis. Stats.
[Amended by Ord. No. 02-48]
(6) 
Service of notice. Service of notice to vacate must be given as described in § 66.0413(1)(d), Wis. Stats.
[Amended by Ord. No. 02-48]
(7) 
Removal of placard or notice. No person shall deface or remove the placard from any dwelling or multifamily dwelling which has been declared or placarded as unfit for human habitation except by authority in writing from the Building Official.
(8) 
Vacating of declared building. Any dwelling or multifamily dwelling which has been declared and placarded as unfit for human habitation by the Building Official shall be vacated within a reasonable time as required by the Building Official, and it shall be unlawful for any owner or operator to let to any person for human habitation said dwelling, multifamily dwelling or dwelling unit, and no person shall occupy any dwelling or multifamily unit which has been declared or placarded by the Building Official as unfit for human habitation after the date set forth in the placard.
(9) 
Occupancy of building. No dwelling or multifamily dwelling which has been declared or placarded as unfit for human habitation shall again be used for human habitation until written approval is secured from the Building Official. The Building Official shall remove such placard whenever the defect or defects upon which the declaration and placarding action were based have been eliminated.
(10) 
Report of notice to vacate. The Building Official shall furnish a copy of each notice to vacate a building to the Health Officer and the Chief of the Fire Department, and any other designated official of the municipality concerned therewith.
E. 
Violations. Notice of violation shall be served upon the owner of record, provided that such notice shall be deemed to be properly served upon such owner if a copy thereof is delivered to him personally or, if not found, by leaving a copy thereof at his usual place of abode with a person of suitable age and discretion who shall be informed of the contents thereof, or by sending a copy thereof by mail to his last known address, or if the letter with the copy is returned showing it has not been delivered to him, by posting a copy thereof in a conspicuous place in or about the dwelling affected by the notice.
(1) 
Service of notice. Whenever the Building Officials determine that there has been or is a violation, or that there are reasonable grounds to believe that there has been or is a violation of any provision of this chapter, they shall give notice of such violation or alleged violation to the person or persons responsible therefor. Such notice shall:
(a) 
Be in writing.
(b) 
Include a description of the real estate sufficient for identification.
(c) 
Specify the violation which exists and the remedial action required.
(d) 
Allow a reasonable time for the performance of any act it requires.
(2) 
Prosecution of violation. In case any violation order is not promptly complied with, the Building Officials may request the legal representative to institute an appropriate action or proceeding at law or in equity against the person responsible for the violation, ordering him:
(a) 
To restrain, correct or remove the violation or refrain from any further execution of work;
(b) 
To restrain or correct the erection, installation or alteration of such building;
(c) 
To require the removal of work in violation;
(d) 
To prevent the occupation or use of the building, structure or part thereof erected, constructed, installed or altered in violation of or not in compliance with the provisions of this chapter, or in violation of a plan or specification under which an approval, permit or certificate was issued; or
(e) 
To enforce the penalty provisions of this chapter.
(3) 
Violations and penalties. Every person who shall violate any provision of this chapter shall be subject to a penalty as provided in § 1-4 of this Municipal Code. Each day that a violation continues after due notice has been served in accordance with the terms and provisions hereof shall be deemed a separate offense.
F. 
Right of appeal.
[Amended by Ord. No. 96-9]
(1) 
Any owner or person who is aggrieved with the ruling or decision of the enforcement officers in any matter relative to the interpretation or enforcement of any of the provisions of this chapter of the City of Watertown Code may appeal said decision or interpretation.
(2) 
The owner of any dwelling, building or structure, a tenant, or any person affected by the notice or order of the Building Officials provided under Subsection E above may appeal the action taken by the Building Officials, within 30 days of the date of service of the written notice and/or order to comply upon such owner, tenant or other person, to the circuit court of the county in which said dwelling, building or structure is located for an order restraining the Building Officials from taking the action under Subsection E above as specified in the written notice or order to comply. Such appeal must be in writing, which must specify the grounds therefor and must address the contents of the written notice and/or order to comply. A copy of such written appeal shall be served upon the Building Officials within 30 days of service of the written notice and order to comply upon the owner, tenant or other person.
G. 
Other violations. This chapter shall not affect violations of any other ordinance, code or regulation of the municipality existing prior to the effective date hereof, and any such violation shall be governed and shall continue to be punishable to the full extent of the law under the provisions of those ordinances, codes or regulations in effect at the time the violation was committed.
A. 
Scope. Unless otherwise expressly stated, the following terms shall, for the purpose of this chapter, have the meanings indicated in this section.
(1) 
Interchangeability. Words used in the present tense include the future; words in the masculine gender include the feminine and neuter; the singular member includes the plural and the plural the singular.
(2) 
Terms defined in Building Code. Where terms are not defined in this section and are defined in the Watertown Building Code (see Ch. 253, Building Construction), they shall have the meanings ascribed to them as in the Building Code.
(3) 
Terms not defined. Where terms are not defined under the provisions of this chapter or under the provisions of Chapter 253, Building Construction, they shall have ascribed to them their ordinarily accepted meanings or such as the context herein may imply.
(4) 
Whenever the words "multifamily dwelling," "residence building," "dwelling unit," "rooming house," "rooming unit" or "premises" are used in this chapter, they shall be construed as though they were followed by the words "or any part thereof."
B. 
Applied meaning of words and terms. As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
APPROVED
"Approved," as applied to a material, device or method of construction, shall mean approved by the Building Officials under the provisions of this chapter or approved by other authority designated by law to give approval in the matter in question.
BASEMENT
A portion of a building located partly underground, but having less than half its clear floor-to-ceiling height below the average grade of the adjoining ground.
BOARDINGHOUSE, LODGING HOUSE; TOURIST HOUSE
See "dwellings."
BUILDING CODE
The Building Code of the City of Watertown, Wisconsin, latest edition, including amendments; see Chapter 253, Building Construction.
BUILDING OFFICIALS
The officials designated by the City to enforce building, zoning or similar laws and this chapter, or their duly authorized representatives.
CELLAR
A portion of a building located partly or wholly underground and having half or more than half of its clear floor-to-ceiling height below the average grade of the adjoining ground.
DEFAULT
For a residential building containing four or fewer dwelling units, when the mortgagor is 60 days past due on the mortgagor's obligation to make a scheduled payment under a mortgage or a mortgage note. With respect to all other residential buildings, "default" shall mean when the mortgagor is 90 days past due on the mortgagor's obligation to make a scheduled payment under a mortgage or a mortgage note.
[Added 7-21-2015 by Ord. No. 15-23]
(1) 
A building designed for or used exclusively for residence purposes by one family or housekeeping unit.
(2) 
A building designed for or used exclusively by two families or housekeeping units.
(3) 
A building or portion thereof designed for or used by three or more families or housekeeping units. See § 332-2A(4).
(4) 
A dwelling or part thereof occupied by a single housekeeping unit where meals and lodging are provided for compensation by previous arrangement but not for transients.
(5) 
A building arranged or used for lodging six but not more than 20 individuals and having common toilet and bathroom facilities.
(6) 
Any building or portion thereof used as a temporary abiding place for remuneration, with or without meals, containing five or more guest rooms or suites where no provision for cooking is made in any individual guest room or suite; except hospitals and jails.
(7) 
A building or part thereof, other than a hotel, boardinghouse, lodging house or motel, where lodging is provided by a resident family in its home for compensation, mainly for transients.
DWELLING UNIT
One room or a suite of two or more rooms designed for or used by one family for living and sleeping purposes and having only one kitchen or kitchenette. See § 332-2A(4).
ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS
The officials designated herein or otherwise charged with the responsibility of administering this chapter, or their authorized representatives.
EXTERIOR PROPERTY AREAS
The open space on the premises and on adjoining property under the control of owners or operators of such premises.
EXTERMINATION
The control and elimination of insects, rodents or other pests by eliminating their harborage places; by removing or making inaccessible materials that may serve as their food; by poison spraying, fumigating, or trapping; or by any other approved pest elimination methods.
FAMILY
A person living alone, or two or more persons living together as a single housekeeping unit, in a dwelling unit, as distinguished from a group occupying a boardinghouse, lodging house, motel or hotel, or fraternity or sorority house.
FORECLOSING
The process by which a property, placed as security for real estate loan, is prepared for sale to satisfy the debt if the borrower defaults.
[Added 7-21-2015 by Ord. No. 15-23]
GARBAGE
The animal and vegetable waste resulting from the handling, preparation, cooking and consumption of food.
GROSS FLOOR AREA
The total area of all habitable space in a building or structure.
HABITABLE ROOM
A room or enclosed floor space arranged for living, eating and sleeping purposes (not including bathrooms, water closet compartments, laundries, pantries, foyers, hallways and other accessory floor spaces).
HOTEL
See "dwellings."
INFESTATION
The presence, within or contiguous to a multifamily dwelling, dwelling unit, rooming house, rooming unit, or premises, of insects, rodents, vermin or other pests.
MORTGAGE
Any consensual lien created by a written instrument which grants or retains an interest in real estate to secure debt or other obligation. The term includes, without limitation: mortgages securing reverse mortgage loans; mortgages securing revolving credit loans; every deed conveying real estate, although an absolute conveyance in its terms, which shall have been intended only as a security in the nature of a mortgage; and equitable mortgages.
[Added 7-21-2015 by Ord. No. 15-23]
MORTGAGEE
The creditor, including but not limited to, service companies, lenders in a mortgage agreement and any agent, servant or employee of the mortgagee, or any successor in interest and/or assignee of the mortgagee's rights, interests or obligations under the mortgage agreement.
[Added 7-21-2015 by Ord. No. 15-23]
MORTGAGOR
The person whose interest in the real estate is the subject of the mortgage and any person claiming through a mortgagor as successor. Where a mortgage is executed by a trustee of a land trust, the mortgagor is the trustee and not the beneficiary or beneficiaries.
[Added 7-21-2015 by Ord. No. 15-23]
MOTEL
For purposes of this chapter, a motel shall be defined the same as a hotel.
MULTIFAMILY (MULTIPLE) DWELLING
See "dwellings."
OCCUPANT
Any person over one year of age (including owner or operator) living and sleeping in a dwelling unit or having actual possession of said dwelling or rooming unit.
OPENABLE AREA
That part of a window or door which is available for unobstructed ventilation and which opens directly to the outdoors.
OPERATOR
Any person who has charge, care or control of a multifamily dwelling or rooming house in which dwelling units or rooming units are let or offered for occupancy.
OWNER
The owner or owners of the freehold of the premises or lesser estate therein, a mortgagee or vendee in possession, assignee of rents, receiver, executor, trustee, lessee or other person, firm or corporation in control of a building, or their duly authorized agents.
PERSON
An individual, firm, corporation, association or partnership.
PLUMBING or PLUMBING FIXTURES
Water heating facilities, water pipes, gas pipes, garbage and disposal units, waste lavatories, bathtubs, shower baths, installed clothes washing machines, or other similar equipment, catch basins, drains, vents or other similarly supplied fixtures, together with all connections to water, gas, sewer or vent lines.
PREMISES
A lot, plot or parcel of land including the buildings or structures thereon. See § 332-2A(4).
RESIDENCE BUILDING
A building in which sleeping accommodations or sleeping accommodations and cooking facilities as a unit are provided, except when classified as an institution under the Building Code. See § 332-2A(4).
ROOMING HOUSE
Any residence building, or any part thereof, containing one or more rooming units, in which space is let by the owner or operator to more than five persons who are not members of the family. See "dwellings: boardinghouse." See also § 332-2A(4).
ROOMING UNIT
Any room or group of rooms forming a single habitable unit used or intended to be used for living and sleeping but not for cooking or eating purposes. See § 332-2A(4).
RUBBISH
Combustible and noncombustible waste materials, except garbage, and the term shall include the residue from the burning of wood, coal, coke and other combustible materials, paper, rags, cartons, boxes, wood, excelsior, rubber, leather, tree branches, yard trimmings, tin cans, metals, mineral matter, glass, crockery and dust and other similar material.
SECURING
Measures that assist in making the property inaccessible to unauthorized persons.
[Added 7-21-2015 by Ord. No. 15-23]
SUPPLIED
Installed, furnished or provided by the owner or operator.
VENTILATION
The process of supplying and removing air by natural or mechanical means to or from any space.
(1) 
Ventilation by power-driven devices.
(2) 
Ventilation by opening to outer air through windows, skylights, doors, louvers or stacks without wind-driven devices.
WORKMANLIKE
Whenever the words "workmanlike state of maintenance and repair" are used in this chapter, they shall mean that such maintenance and repair shall be made in a reasonably skillful manner.
[Added 7-21-2015 by Ord. No. 15-23]
(1) 
Any real estate improved with a complete structure containing one or more dwelling units or an incomplete structure if the real estate is zoned for residential development, where the structure is empty or otherwise uninhabited by persons and the structure or lot is in need of maintenance, repair or securing, and with respect to which one or more of the following conditions exist:
(a) 
All lawful construction operations have ceased for six months;
(b) 
It has been declared unfit for occupancy and ordered to remain vacant and unoccupied under an order issued by a building inspector, environmental health inspector and/or a fire inspector pursuant to § 332-1D or by an order issued by a court of competent jurisdiction;
(c) 
No construction or legal repairs have commenced for six months;
(d) 
The doors or windows are smashed through, broken, unhinged, removed or continuously unlocked;
(e) 
Law enforcement officials have received at least one report of trespassers or vandalism or other illegal acts being committed at the property in the last six months; and
(f) 
Gas, electric or water services to the entire premises have been terminated.
(2) 
A property shall not be considered vacant if: (i) there is an unoccupied building which is undergoing construction, renovation or rehabilitation that is proceeding diligently to completion, and the building is in compliance with all applicable ordinances, codes, regulations and legislation; (ii) there is a building occupied on a seasonal basis, but otherwise secure; (iii) there is a secure building on which there are bona fide rental or sale signs; or (iv) there is a building that is secure, but is the subject of probate action, action to quiet title, or other ownership dispute; or (v) there is otherwise a building that is secure and in substantial compliance with all applicable ordinances.
YARD
An open space, other than a court, on a lot, unoccupied or unobstructed from the ground upward.
A. 
Scope. The provisions of this section shall govern the minimum conditions of property and buildings to be used for human occupancy. Every building or structure occupied by humans, except as exempted by § 332-1B(4), and the premises on which it stands shall comply with the conditions herein prescribed as they may apply thereto.
B. 
Exterior property areas. No person shall occupy as owner-occupant or let to another for occupancy any dwelling unit for the purpose of living therein or premises which does not comply with the following requirements. The Building Officials shall cause periodic inspections to be made of dwelling premises to secure compliance with these requirements.
(1) 
Sanitation. All exterior property areas shall be maintained in a clean and sanitary condition free from any accumulation of rubbish or garbage.
(2) 
Grading and drainage. All premises shall be graded and maintained so as to provide adequate drainage therefrom and from any building or structure located thereon.
(3) 
Noxious weeds. All exterior property areas shall be kept free from species of weeds or plant growth which are noxious or detrimental to the public health.
(4) 
Vermin and rodent harborage. Every owner of a dwelling or multifamily dwelling shall be responsible for the extermination of rodents, vermin or other pests in all exterior areas of the premises, except that the occupant shall be responsible for such extermination in the exterior areas of the premises of a single-family dwelling. Whenever infestation exists in the shared or public parts of the premises of other than a single-family dwelling, extermination shall be the responsibility of the owner.
(5) 
Accessory structures. All accessory structures, including detached garages, shall be maintained structurally sound and in good repair.
C. 
Exterior structure. No person shall occupy as owner-occupant or let to another for occupancy any dwelling or multifamily dwelling, dwelling unit, rooming house, rooming unit or portion thereof for the purpose of living therein which does not comply with the following requirements:
(1) 
Foundations, walls and roof. Every foundation, exterior wall, roof and all other exterior surface shall be maintained in a workmanlike state of maintenance and repair and shall be kept in such condition as to exclude rodents.
(2) 
Foundation and exterior walls. Every foundation and exterior wall shall be free of holes, breaks, loose or rotting boards or timbers, and any other conditions which might admit rain or dampness to the interior portions of the walls or to the occupied spaces of the building.
(3) 
Roofs. The roof shall be structurally sound, tight and have no defects which might admit rain, and roof drainage shall be adequate to prevent rainwater from causing dampness in the walls or interior portion of the building.
(4) 
Stairs, porches and railings. Stairs and other exit facilities shall be adequate for safety, as provided in the Building Code, and shall comply with the following subsections:
(a) 
Structural safety. Every outside stair, every porch, and every appurtenance attached thereto shall be so constructed as to be safe to use and capable of supporting the loads to which it is subjected and shall be kept in sound condition and good repair.
(b) 
Handrails. Where the Building Officials deem it necessary for safety, every flight of stairs which is more than two risers high shall have handrails which shall be located as required by the Building Code, and every porch which is more than two risers high shall have handrails so located and of such design as required by the Building Code. Every handrail and balustrade shall be firmly fastened and shall be maintained in good condition.
(5) 
Windows, doors and hatchways. Every window, exterior door and basement hatchway shall be substantially tight and shall be kept in sound condition and repair.
(6) 
Windows to be glazed. Every window sash shall be fully supplied with glass window panes or an approved substitute which are without open cracks or holes.
(7) 
Windows to be tight. Every window sash shall be in good condition and fit reasonably tight within its frame.
(8) 
Windows to be openable. Every window, other than a fixed window, shall be capable of being easily opened and shall be held in position by window hardware.
(9) 
Door hardware. Every exterior door, door hinge and door latch shall be maintained in good condition.
(10) 
Doors to fit in frame. Every exterior door, when closed, shall fit reasonably well within its frame.
(11) 
Window and door frames to fit in wall. Every window, door and frame shall be constructed and maintained in such relation to the adjacent wall construction so as to exclude rain as completely as possible and to substantially exclude wind from entering the dwelling or multifamily dwelling.
(12) 
Basement hatchways. Every basement hatchway shall be so constructed and maintained as to prevent the entrance of rodents, rain and surface drainage water into the dwelling or multifamily dwelling.
(13) 
Exit doors. Every door available as an exit shall be capable of being easily opened from the inside.
(14) 
Screening. Guards and screens shall be supplied for protection against rodents and vermin in accordance with the following requirements:
(a) 
Guards for basement windows. Every basement or cellar window which is openable shall be supplied with corrosion-resistive rodentproof shields of not less than No. 22 U.S. gauge perforated steel sheets, or No. 20 B&S gauge aluminum, or No. 16 U.S. gauge expanded metal or wire mesh screens, with not more than 1/2 inch mesh openings, or with other material affording equivalent protection against the entry of rodents, including storm windows.
(b) 
Insect screens. From June 1 to October 15 of each year every door opening directly from any dwelling or multifamily dwelling to the outdoors and every window or other outside opening used for ventilation purposes shall be supplied with a screen of not less than 16 mesh per inch, and every swinging screen door shall have a self-closing device in good working condition, except that no such screens shall be required for a dwelling unit on a floor above the fifth floor.
D. 
Interior structure. No person shall occupy as owner-occupant or let to another for occupancy any dwelling, multifamily dwelling, dwelling unit, rooming house, rooming unit, or portion thereof, for the purpose of living therein, which does not comply with the following requirements:
(1) 
Free from dampness. In every dwelling, multifamily dwelling, dwelling unit, rooming house and rooming unit, cellars, basements and crawl spaces shall be maintained reasonably free from dampness to prevent conditions conducive to decay or deterioration of the structure.
(2) 
Structural members. The supporting structural members of every dwelling and multifamily dwelling used for human habitation shall be maintained structurally sound, showing no evidence of deterioration which would render them incapable of carrying the imposed loads in accordance with the provisions of the Building Code.
(3) 
Interior stairs and railings. Stairs shall be provided in every dwelling, multifamily dwelling, rooming house and boardinghouse where required by the Building Code.
(4) 
Maintained in good repair. All interior stairs of every structure used for human habitation shall be maintained in sound condition and good repair by replacing treads and risers that evidence excessive wear or are broken, warped or loose. Every inside stair shall be so constructed and maintained as to be safe to use.
(5) 
Handrails. Every stairwell and every flight of stairs which is more than two risers high shall have handrails or railings located in accordance with the provisions of the Building Code. Every handrail or railing shall be firmly fastened and must be maintained in good condition. Properly balustraded railings, capable of bearing normally imposed loads, shall be placed on the open portions of stairs, balconies, landings and stairwells.
(6) 
Bathroom floors. Every toilet and bathroom floor surface shall be constructed and maintained so as to be substantially impervious to water and so as to permit such floor to be easily kept in a clean and sanitary condition.
(7) 
Sanitation. The interior of every dwelling and multifamily dwelling used for human habitation shall be maintained in a clean and sanitary condition, free from any accumulation of rubbish or garbage. Rubbish, garbage and other refuse shall be properly kept inside temporary storage facilities as required under § 332-4A(6) and (7) of this chapter.
(8) 
Insect and vermin harborage. Buildings used for human habitation shall be kept free from insect and vermin infestation, and where insects or vermin are found they shall be promptly exterminated by acceptable processes which will not be injurious to human health. After extermination, proper precautions shall be taken to prevent reinfestation.
(9) 
Extermination from buildings. Every owner of a dwelling or multifamily dwelling shall be responsible for the extermination of insects, rodents, vermin or other pests whenever infestation exists in two or more of the dwelling units or in the shared or public part of the structure.
(10) 
Extermination from single dwelling units. The occupant of a dwelling unit in a dwelling or multifamily dwelling shall be responsible for such extermination within the unit occupied by him whenever his dwelling unit is the only unit in the building that is infested.
(11) 
Responsibility of owner. Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions, whenever infestation of vermin is caused by failure of the owner to maintain any dwelling or multifamily dwelling in a verminproof condition, extermination of such vermin shall be the responsibility of the owner.
A. 
Basic facilities. No person shall occupy as owner-occupant or let to another for occupancy any dwelling unit for the purpose of living, sleeping, cooking or eating therein which does not comply with the following requirements.
(1) 
Sanitary facilities. The following minimum sanitary facilities shall be supplied and maintained in sanitary, safe working condition:
(a) 
Water closet. Every dwelling unit shall contain within its walls a room, separate from the habitable rooms, which affords privacy and which is equipped with a water closet.
(b) 
Lavatory. Every dwelling unit shall contain a lavatory which, when a water closet is required, shall be in the same room with said water closet.
(c) 
Bathtub or shower. Every dwelling unit shall contain a room which affords privacy to a person in said room and which is equipped with a bathtub or shower.
(d) 
Kitchen sink. Every dwelling unit shall contain a kitchen sink apart from the lavatory required under Subsection A(1)(b).
(2) 
Water and sewer system. Every kitchen sink, lavatory basin, bathtub or shower and water closet required under the provisions of Subsection A(1) shall be properly connected to either a public water and sewer system or to an approved private water and sewer system. All sinks, lavatories, bathtubs and showers shall be supplied with hot and cold running water.
(3) 
Water heating facilities. Every dwelling unit shall be supplied with water heating facilities which are installed in an approved manner, properly maintained and properly connected with hot water lines to the fixtures required to be supplied with hot water under Subsection A(2). Water heating facilities shall be capable of heating water to such a temperature as to permit an adequate amount of water to be drawn at every required kitchen sink, lavatory basin, bathtub, shower and laundry facility or other similar units, at a temperature of not less than 120° F. at any time needed.
(4) 
Heating facilities. Every dwelling and multifamily dwelling shall have heating facilities, and the owner of the heating facilities shall be required to see that they are properly installed, safely maintained and in good working condition, and that they are capable of safely and adequately heating all habitable rooms, bathrooms and toilet rooms located therein to a temperature of at least an average of 70° F. with an outside temperature of 10° below zero. The owner shall maintain at all times a minimum room temperature of 65° F. in all habitable rooms, including bathrooms and toilet rooms, when rented.
(5) 
Operation of heating facilities and incinerators. Every heating or water heating facility and incinerator shall be installed and shall operate in accordance with the requirements of the Building Code or the air pollution control ordinances of the municipality.
(6) 
Rubbish storage facilities. Every dwelling, multifamily dwelling and dwelling unit shall be supplied with approved containers and covers for storage of rubbish, and the owner, operator or agent in control of such dwelling or multifamily dwelling shall be responsible for the removal of such rubbish.
(7) 
Garbage storage or disposal facilities. Every dwelling or multifamily dwelling and every dwelling unit shall be supplied with an approved garbage disposal facility, which may be an adequate mechanical garbage disposal unit (mechanical sink grinder) in each dwelling unit, or an incinerator unit to be approved by the Building Officials in the structure for the use of the occupants of each dwelling unit, or an approved outside garbage can for each dwelling unit.
B. 
Installation and maintenance. No person shall occupy as owner-occupant or let to another for occupancy any dwelling, multifamily dwelling, dwelling unit, rooming house or rooming unit for the purpose of living, sleeping, cooking or eating therein which does not comply with the following requirements:
(1) 
Facilities and equipment. All required equipment and all building space and parts in every dwelling and multifamily dwelling shall be constructed and maintained so as to properly and safely perform their intended function in accordance with the provisions of the Building Code.
(2) 
Maintained clean and sanitary. All housing facilities shall be maintained in a clean and sanitary condition by the occupant so as not to breed insects and rodents or produce dangerous or offensive gases or odors.
(3) 
Plumbing fixtures. In buildings and structures used for human habitation, waterlines, plumbing fixtures, vents and drains shall be properly installed, connected and maintained in working order and shall be kept free from obstructions, leaks and defects and capable of performing the function for which they are designed. All repairs and installations shall be made in accordance with the provisions of the State Plumbing Code.
(4) 
Plumbing systems. In buildings and structures used for human habitation, every plumbing stack and waste and sewer line shall be so installed and maintained as to function properly and shall be kept free from obstructions, leaks and defects to prevent structural deterioration or health hazards. All repairs and installations shall be made in accordance with the provisions of the State Plumbing Code and all other codes having jurisdiction. If a sewer and water system is made available by the City, all dwellings must connect thereto.
(5) 
Heating equipment. Every space heating, cooking and water heating device located in a dwelling or multifamily dwelling shall be properly installed, connected and maintained and shall be capable of performing the function for which it was designed in accordance with the provisions of all codes having jurisdiction.
(6) 
Electrical outlets and fixtures. Every electrical outlet and fixture, as required pertaining to light and ventilation, shall be installed, maintained and connected to the source of electric power in accordance with the provisions of the Electrical Code of the City of Watertown.
(7) 
Correction of defective system. Where it is found, in the opinion of the Building Officials, that the electrical system in a building constitutes a hazard to the occupants of the building by reason of inadequate service, improper fusing, insufficient outlets, improper wiring or installation, deterioration or damage, or for similar reasons, they shall require the defects to be corrected to eliminate the hazard.
C. 
Occupancy requirements. No person shall occupy or let to another for occupancy any dwelling unit for the purpose of living therein which does not comply with the following requirements:
(1) 
Minimum ceiling heights. Habitable rooms in existing buildings, except as provided in § 332-1B(4), shall have a clear ceiling height of not less than 7 1/3 feet, except that in attics or top half-stories the ceiling heights shall be not less than seven feet over not less than 1/3 of the area when used for sleeping, study or similar activity. In calculating the floor area of such rooms, only those portions of the floor area of the room having a clear ceiling height of five feet or more may be included.
(2) 
Required space in dwelling units. Every dwelling unit shall contain a minimum gross floor area of not less than 150 square feet for the first occupant and 100 square feet for each additional occupant. The floor area shall be calculated on the basis of the total area of all habitable rooms.
(3) 
Required space in sleeping rooms. In every dwelling unit, every room occupied for sleeping purposes by one occupant shall have a minimum gross floor area of at least 70 square feet. Every room occupied for sleeping purposes by more than one occupant shall contain at least 50 square feet of floor area for each occupant thereof.
(4) 
Access limitation of dwelling unit to commercial uses. No habitable room, bathroom or water closet compartment which is accessory to a dwelling unit shall open directly into or shall be used in conjunction with a food store, barber or beauty shop, doctor's or dentist's examination or treatment room, or similar room used for public purposes.
(5) 
Location of bath and second sleeping room. No residence building or dwelling unit containing two or more sleeping rooms shall have such room arrangement that access to a bathroom or water closet compartment intended for use by occupants of more than one sleeping room can be had only by going through another sleeping room, nor shall the room arrangement be such that access to a sleeping room can be had only by going through another sleeping room or a bathroom or water closet compartment. No bathroom shall be so located that access thereto is solely through a kitchen.
(6) 
Occupancy of dwelling units below grade. No dwelling unit partially below grade shall be used for living purposes unless:
(a) 
Floors and walls are watertight.
(b) 
Total window area, total openable area and ceiling height are in accordance with this chapter.
(c) 
Required minimum window area of every habitable room is entirely above the grade of the ground adjoining such window area.
D. 
Light and ventilation. No person shall occupy as owner-occupant or let to another for occupancy any dwelling, multifamily dwelling, dwelling unit, rooming house or rooming unit for the purpose of living therein which does not comply with the following requirements:
(1) 
Natural light in habitable rooms. Every habitable room shall have at least one window of approved size facing directly to the outdoors or to a court. The minimum total window area, measured between stops, for every habitable room shall be 10% of the floor area of such room, except in kitchens when artificial light may be provided in accordance with the provisions of the City of Watertown, Wisconsin, Building Code. Whenever walls or other portions of a structure face a window of any room, and such obstructions are located less than three feet from the window and extend to a level above that of the ceiling of the room, such a window shall not be deemed to face directly to the outdoors nor to a court and shall not be included as contributing to the required minimum total window area for the room.
(2) 
Light in nonhabitable work space. Every laundry, furnace room, and all similar nonhabitable work spaces located in a dwelling or multifamily dwelling shall have one supplied electric light fixture available at all times.
(3) 
Light in public halls and stairways. Every public hall and inside stairway in every dwelling or multifamily dwelling shall be adequately lighted at all times with an illumination of at least five footcandles per square foot in the darkest portion of the normally traveled stairs and passageways.
(4) 
Electric outlets required. Where there is electric service available to the building or structure, every habitable room of a dwelling or multifamily dwelling shall contain at least two separate and remote outlets, one of which may be a ceiling or wall-type electric light fixture. In kitchens, three separate and remote wall-type electric light convenience outlets or two such convenience outlets and one ceiling or wall-type electric light fixture shall be provided. Every public hall, water closet compartment, bathroom, laundry room or furnace room shall contain at least one electric light fixture. In addition to the electric light fixture in every bathroom and laundry room, there shall be provided at least one electric outlet.
(5) 
Adequate ventilation. Every habitable room shall have at least one window which can be easily opened or such other device as will adequately ventilate the room. The total openable window area in every habitable room shall be equal to at least 45% of the minimum window area size required in Subsection D(1), except where mechanical ventilation is provided in accordance with the provisions of the Building Code of the City of Watertown, Wisconsin.
(6) 
Ventilation and light in bathroom and water closet. Every bathroom and water closet compartment shall comply with the light and ventilation requirements for habitable rooms as required by this Subsection D, except that no window shall be required in bathrooms or water closet compartments equipped with an approved ventilation system.
E. 
Minimum requirements for safety from fire. No person shall occupy as owner-occupant or shall let to another for occupancy any dwelling, multifamily dwelling, dwelling unit, rooming house, rooming unit, lodging house or lodging unit which does not comply with the applicable provisions of the fire prevention sections of Chapter 303 of this Municipal Code and the following additional requirements for safety from fire:
(1) 
Storage of flammable liquids prohibited. No dwelling, multifamily dwelling, dwelling unit or rooming unit shall be located within a building containing any establishment handling, dispensing or storing flammable liquids with a flash point of 110° F. or lower.
(2) 
Cooking and heating equipment. All cooking and heating equipment, components and accessories in every heating, cooking and water heating device shall be maintained free from leaks and obstructions and kept functioning properly so as to be free from fire, health and accident hazards. All installations and repairs shall be made in accordance with the provisions of the Building Code or other laws or ordinances of the municipality applicable thereto. Portable cooking equipment employing flame is prohibited.
(3) 
Smoke detectors. Section 101.145 of the Wisconsin Statutes requires the installation and maintenance of smoke detectors in all residential buildings, as defined in the statute. Said statute is incorporated by reference herein. The Building Inspectors and Fire Inspector of the City of Watertown are hereby designated as the City officials entitled to make inspections for smoke detector installation and maintenance. Any owner of a residential building who fails to install or maintain smoke detectors as required by § 101.145, Wis. Stats., shall be subject to a minimum forfeiture of $200. Any person who removes batteries from a smoke detector, rendering the smoke detector inoperative, shall be subject to a forfeiture of not less than $500.
[Added by Ord. No. 91-20]
A. 
Scope. Occupants of dwellings, multifamily dwellings and dwelling units and owners or operators of rooming houses shall be responsible for maintenance thereof as provided in this section.
(1) 
Cleanliness. Every occupant of a dwelling unit shall keep that part of the dwelling unit and premises thereof which he occupies, controls or uses in a clean and sanitary condition.
(2) 
Disposal of rubbish. Every occupant of a dwelling unit shall dispose of all his rubbish in a clean and sanitary manner by placing it in rubbish containers required by § 332-4A(6) of this chapter.
(3) 
Disposal of garbage. Every occupant of a dwelling unit shall dispose of his garbage in a clean and sanitary manner by placing it in the garbage disposal facilities or, if such facilities are not available, by removing all nonburnable matter and securely wrapping such garbage and placing it in tight metal garbage storage containers as required by § 332-4A(7) of this chapter, or by such other disposal method as may be required by applicable laws or ordinances of the municipality.
(4) 
Use and operation of supplied plumbing fixtures. Every occupant of a dwelling unit shall keep the supplied plumbing fixtures therein clean and sanitary and shall be responsible for the exercise of reasonable care in their proper use and operation.
(5) 
Installation and care of plumbing fixtures furnished by occupant. Every plumbing fixture furnished by the occupant of a dwelling unit shall be properly installed and shall be maintained in good working condition, kept clean and sanitary and free of defects, leaks or obstructions.
B. 
Rooming houses. Every person who operates a rooming house or who occupies or lets to another for occupancy any rooming unit in any rooming house shall comply with the provisions of every section of this chapter, except as provided in the following subsections:
(1) 
Water closet, hand lavatory and bath facilities. At least one water closet, lavatory basin and bathtub or shower properly connected to an approved water and sewer system and in good working condition shall be supplied for each four rooms within a rooming house wherever said facilities are shared. All such facilities shall be located within the residence building served and shall be directly accessible from a common hall or passageway and shall be not more than one story removed from any of the persons sharing such facilities. Every lavatory basin and bathtub or shower shall be supplied with hot and cold water at all times. Such required facilities shall not be located in the cellar.
(2) 
Minimum floor area for sleeping purposes. Every room occupied for sleeping purposes by one occupant shall contain at least 70 square feet of floor area, and every room occupied for sleeping purposes by more than three persons shall contain at least 50 square feet of floor area for each occupant thereof.
(3) 
Bed linen and towels. The operator of every rooming house shall supply bed linen and towels therein at least once each week and prior to the letting of any room to another occupant. The operator shall be responsible for the maintenance of all supplied bedding in a clean and sanitary manner.
(4) 
Shades, drapes, etc. Every window of every rooming unit shall be supplied with shades, drawn drapes or other devices or material which, when properly used, will afford privacy to the occupant of the rooming unit.
(5) 
Sanitary conditions. The operator of every rooming house shall be responsible for the sanitary maintenance of all walls, floors and ceilings, and for the sanitary maintenance of every other part of the rooming house, and he shall be further responsible for the sanitary maintenance of the entire premises where the entire structure or building within which the rooming house is contained is leased or occupied by the operator.
(6) 
Sanitary facilities. Every water closet, flush urinal, lavatory basin and bathtub or shower required by Subsection B(1) shall be located within the rooming house and within a room or rooms, which:
(a) 
Afford privacy and are separate from the habitable rooms.
(b) 
Are accessible from a common hall and without going outside the rooming house or through any other room therein.
[Added 7-21-2015 by Ord. No. 15-23]
A. 
Scope. It is the intent of this section to protect and preserve public safety, security and quiet enjoyment of occupants, abutters and neighbors by:
(1) 
Requiring all residential property owners, including lenders, trustees and service companies, to properly maintain vacant and/or foreclosing properties.
(2) 
Regulating the maintenance of vacant and/or foreclosing residential properties to prevent blighted and unsecured residences.
B. 
Registration of vacant and/or foreclosing residential properties. If a building official or enforcement official believes or receives a complaint that a property is vacant, the Building Official or enforcement official shall cause an inspection to be done to determine if the owners and/or mortgagee must register vacant and/or foreclosing residential properties with the Building, Safety and Zoning Division on forms provided by the Division. All registration must state the individual owner's, mortgagee's or agent's phone number and mailing address. The mailing address may not be a post office box. This registration must also certify that the property was inspected and identified, whether the property is vacant at the time of filing.
(1) 
If the property is vacant, the owner, mortgagee and/or registrant must designate and retain a local individual or local property management company, physically located within 25 miles of the exterior boundaries of the City of Watertown, responsible for the security and maintenance of the property. This designation must state the individual or company's name, phone number and local mailing address. The mailing address may not be a post office box.
(2) 
If the property is determined to be vacant and that foreclosure proceedings have not been initiated, the registration must be received within 14 days of the first citation for improper maintenance.
(3) 
All property registrations are valid for one calendar year. An annual registration fee as set by the Common Council and provided under separate fee schedule must accompany the registration form. Subsequent annual registrations and fees are due within 30 days of the expiration of the previous registration and must certify whether the foreclosing and/or foreclosed property remains vacant or not.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. II).
C. 
Mortgagee to inspect real estate.
(1) 
Beginning 45 days after a default, a mortgagee shall determine, on a monthly basis, if the building on the property subject to its mortgage is vacant. Such determination may be made by communication with the mortgagor, a visual inspection of the real estate, or other means reasonably calculated to determine if the building is vacant.
(2) 
This section shall not require a mortgagee to perform any action which it is barred from doing by an automatic stay pursuant to a bankruptcy proceeding.
D. 
Water supply shutoff. No later than 30 days after registration of a vacant or foreclosing property pursuant to this section or upon determination by the Building, Safety and Zoning Division that a building is vacant, the owner, mortgagee and/or registrant must contact the Water Department to shut off the water supply to the building. However, the owner and/or registrant shall not knowingly request the Water Department to shut off the water supply to any secure building with a sealed, operational sprinkler system.
E. 
Maintenance requirements. Properties subject to this section must be maintained in accordance with this chapter and all relevant sanitary codes, building codes, and other local regulations concerning external and/or visible maintenance. The owner, mortgagee, local individual or local property management company must be physically located within 25 miles of the exterior boundaries of the City of Watertown; must inspect and maintain the property on a monthly and an as-needed basis for the duration of the vacancy.
(1) 
The property must contain a posting with the name and twenty-four-hour contact phone number of the local individual or local property management company, who are physically located within 25 miles of the exterior boundaries of the City of Watertown, responsible for the maintenance. This sign must be posted on the front of the property so it is clearly visible from the street.
(2) 
Adherence to this section does not relieve the owner and/or mortgagee of any applicable obligations set forth in code regulations, covenant conditions and restrictions, and/or homeowners' association rules and regulations.
F. 
Inspections. See § 332-1C(3).
G. 
Enforcement. See § 332-1C.
H. 
Violation and penalties. See § 332-1E.
I. 
Termination.
(1) 
Upon the occurrence of any of the following, the requirements of Subsections B and C of this section shall terminate with respect to a mortgagee:
(a) 
Recorded assignment of the mortgagee's mortgage.
(b) 
Recorded satisfaction or release of the mortgagee's mortgage.
(2) 
Upon the occurrence of any of the following, the requirements of Subsections B and C of this section shall terminate with respect to a building:
(a) 
Recorded conveyance of title to the underlying real estate, pursuant to foreclosure proceedings or otherwise;
(b) 
The building ceases to be vacant; or
(c) 
The building is demolished with all permits required by City of Watertown's Code.
(3) 
Within 20 days of termination pursuant to this section, a mortgagee shall notify the Building, Safety and Zoning Division on a form provided by the Building, Safety and Zoning Division for such purpose.
J. 
Exclusions. This section does not apply to the Federal Housing Finance Agency as an owner and/or mortgagee of properties.
K. 
Notice. A copy of this section is to be mailed to all loan institutions, banks, real estate offices and management companies located in and/or having legal or equitable interest in residential property located in the City of Watertown.