[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Committee of the Township of Sandyston as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Article I Rental Properties
Article II Vacant and Abandoned Properties
[Adopted 4-10-2018 by Ord. No. 2018-02]
The Township Committee finds, determines and declares that:
Sandyston Township is a rural community that is heavily involved in eco-tourism and its citizens have experienced disturbances, damage and public expense resulting from carelessly granted and inadequately supervised rentals to irresponsible tenants and/or vacationers by inept or indifferent landlords.
This section is enacted to preserve the peace and tranquility of the community for its permanent residents, and to maintain the municipality as a viable vacation resort for all persons and families availing themselves of the facilities in the community.
The enactment of this section is necessary and desirable to provide a means to curb and discourage those occasional excesses arising from irresponsible rentals, seasonal or otherwise.
The Legislature of the State of New Jersey enacted N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.12n et seq., to enable certain communities to take effective action to assure that excesses, when they occur, shall not be repeated, and that landlords be held to sufficient standards of responsibility.
Where the Internet has created a virtual short term rental market without proper supervision in which properties are rented with the purpose to make parties and loud events.
For the purpose of this article, the following meanings shall apply:
- HEARING OFFICER
- A licensed attorney of the State of New Jersey appointed by the Township Committee. The hearing officer shall not own or lease any real property within the Township of Sandyston, nor hold any interest in the assets of or profits arising from the ownership of such property.
- The person or persons who own or purport to own any building in which there is rented or offered for rent housing space for living or dwelling under either a written or oral lease, which building contains no more than four dwelling units.
- SEASONAL RENTAL
- Any rental of residential accommodations for a term of less than one year during the calendar year.
- SHORT-TERM RENTAL
- Rentals for less than 14 days.
- WRITTEN COMPLAINT
- Acomplaint which may form the basis for proceedings in accordance with the provisions of this article which is reduced to writing.
If, in any twenty-four-month period, two or more written complaints, on separate occasions, of conduct, including by way of example, but not limited to, simple assault, assault, terroristic threats, harassment, lewdness, urinating in public, criminal mischief, or excessive noise, upon or in proximity to any rental premises, and attributable to the acts or incitements of any of the tenants of those premises, have been substantiated by prosecution and conviction in any court of competent jurisdiction as a violation of any provision of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes or any municipal ordinance governing disorderly conduct, the Township Committee or his/her designee may institute proceedings to require the landlord of the rental premises to post a bond against the consequences of future incidents of the same character.
In the event a tenant is convicted of any of the conduct described in Subsection A of this section, the Code Enforcement Officer shall cause notice advising that the conduct specified has occurred to be served on the landlord, in person or by registered mail, at the address appearing on the tax records of the municipality.
The Township Committee or his/her designee shall cause to be served upon the landlord, in person or by registered mail, to the address appearing on the tax records of the municipality, notice advising of the institution of such proceedings, together with particulars of the substantiated written complaint(s) upon which those proceedings are based, and of the time and place at which the hearing will be held in the matter, which shall be in the Municipal Building or Municipal Court, and which shall be no sooner than 30 days from the date upon which the notice is served or mailed.
At the hearing convened pursuant to Subsection B(1) of this section, the hearing officer shall give full hearing to both the complaint of the municipality and to any evidence in contradiction or mitigation that the landlord, if present or represented or offering such evidence, may present. The hearing officer may consider, to the extent deemed relevant by the hearing officer, prior complaints about the residents of the property, even if those complaints did not result in a conviction. At the conclusion of the hearing, the hearing officer shall determine whether the landlord shall be required to post a bond in accordance with the terms of this ordinance.
Any bond required to be posted shall be in accordance with the judgment of the hearing officer, in light of the nature and extent of the offenses indicated in the substantiated written complaints upon which the proceedings are based, to be adequate in the case of subsequent offenses to make reparation for:
Damages likely to be caused to public or private property consequent upon disruption of affected residents' rights of fair use and quiet enjoyment of their premises;
Securing the payment of fines and penalties likely to be levied for such offenses; and
Compensating the municipality for the costs of repressing and prosecuting such incidents of disorderly behavior; provided, however, no such bond shall be in an amount less than $500 nor more than $5,000. The municipality may enforce the bond thus required by an action in the Superior Court, and shall be entitled to an injunction prohibiting the landlord from making or renewing any lease of the affected premises for residential purposes until that bond or equivalent security, in satisfactory form and amount, has been deposited with the municipality.
Any bond or other security deposited in compliance with Subsection D(3) of this section shall remain in force for a period of four years. Upon the lapse of the four-year period, the landlord shall be entitled to the discharge of the bond, unless prior thereto further proceedings leading to a forfeiture or partial forfeiture of the bond or other security shall have been had under § 115-4 below, in which case the security shall be renewed in an amount and for a period that shall be specified by the hearing officer. A transfer of ownership or control of the property shall not void a requirement of security imposed under this section. The person or persons to whom ownership or control is transferred shall maintain that security, and shall be subject to injunctive proceedings as authorized by this subsection in the same manner as the landlord upon which the requirement was originally imposed; provided however, the Township Committee may by resolution shorten the period for which security is required to not less than one year from the date of the transfer of ownership or control, if during that year no substantiated written complaints are recorded with respect to the property in question.
If, during the period for which a landlord is required to give security pursuant to § 115-3, a substantiated written complaint is recorded against the property in question, the Township Committee or his/her designee may institute proceedings against the landlord for the forfeiture or partial forfeiture of the security, for an extension of the period for which the security is required, or for an increase in the amount of security required, or for any or all of those purposes.
Any forfeiture or partial forfeiture of security shall be determined by the hearing officer solely in accordance with the amount deemed necessary to provide for the compensatory purposes set forth in § 115-3D. Any decision by the hearing officer to increase the amount or extend the period of the required security shall be determined in light of the same factors set forth in § 115-3D, and shall be taken only to the extent that the nature of the substantiated written complaint or complaints out of which proceedings arise under this action indicates the appropriateness of such change in order to effectually carry out the purposes of this article. The decision of the hearing officer in such circumstances shall be enforceable in the same manner as provided in § 115-3D.
[Adopted 4-10-2018 by Ord. No. 2018-03]
For the purpose of this article, the following meanings shall apply:
- A state-chartered bank, savings bank, savings and loan association or credit union, any person or entity required to be licensed under the provisions of the New Jersey Residential Mortgage Act, P.L. 2009, c.53 (N.J.S.A. 17:11C-51 et seq.), any foreclosing entity subject to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 46:10B-51 (P.L. 2008, c. 127, Sec. 17, as amended from time to time) and any entity acting on behalf of the creditor named in the debt obligation including, but not limited to, servicers.
- VACANT AND ABANDONED
- Consistent with Section 1 of P.L. 2012, c.70 (N.J.S.A. 2A:50-73), residential real estate, where a notice of violation has been issued pursuant to § 115-10A and Subsection b. of Section 1 of P.L.2014, c.35 (N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.12s), or property which any condition on its own or combined with other conditions present would lead a reasonable person to believe that the property is or has been vacant for three or more months.
- EVIDENCE OF VACANCY
- Such evidence would include, but is not limited to, evidence of the existence of two or more of the following conditions at the property:
- A. Overgrown or neglected vegetation;
- B. The accumulation of newspapers, circulars, flyers or mail on the property;
- C. Disconnected gas, electric, or water utility services to the property;
- D. The accumulation of hazardous, noxious, or unhealthy substances or materials on the property;
- E. The accumulation of junk, litter, trash or debris on the property;
- F. The absence of window treatments such as blinds, curtains or shutters;
- G. The absence of furnishings and personal items;
- H. Statements of neighbors, association management, delivery persons, or government employees indicating that the residence is vacant and abandoned;
- I. Infestation by insects, vermin, rats or other pests;
- J. Windows or entrances to the property that are boarded up or closed off, or multiple window panes that are damaged, broken and unrepaired;
- K. Doors to the property that are smashed through, broken off, unhinged, or continuously unlocked;
- L. A risk to the health, safety or welfare of the public, or any adjoining or adjacent property owners, exists due to acts of vandalism, loitering, criminal conduct, or the physical destruction or deterioration of the property;
- M. An uncorrected violation of a municipal building, housing, or similar code during the preceding year, or an order by municipal authorities declaring the property to be unfit for occupancy and to remain vacant and unoccupied;
- N. The mortgagee or other authorized party has secured or winterized the property due to the property being deemed vacant and unprotected or in danger of freezing;
- O. Awritten statement issued by any mortgagor expressing the clear intent of all mortgagors to abandon the property;
- P. Any other reasonable indicia of abandonment.
- The titleholder, any agent of the titleholder having authority to act with respect to the vacant property, any foreclosing entity subject to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 46:10B-51 (P.L. 2008, c.127. 17) or any other entity determined by the Township of Sandyston to act with respect to the property.
- SEASONAL RESIDENCES
- Residences in the Township of Sandyston which may only be lawfully occupied on a limited single basis and not on a year-round basis. For seasonal properties, the properties shall not be considered abandoned or vacant for purposes of this article unless said residence is abandoned or vacant during the period of time when it may be lawfully seasonably occupied.
- The Township may effectively service on the property by serving notice on the tenant and/or positioning any notices on the property. All notices will be on file with the Municipal Clerk for public review.
A creditor filing a summons and complaint in an action to foreclose on a vacant and abandoned property, or a creditor who has previously filed a summons and complaint to foreclose on a residential property which subsequently becomes vacant and abandoned, or the owner of a vacant and abandoned property, shall within 30 calendar days after the building becomes vacant and abandoned or within 30 calendar days after assuming ownership of the vacant and abandoned property, whichever is later; or within 10 calendar days of receipt of notice from the Township, and annually thereafter, file a registration statement for such vacant and abandoned property with the Municipal Clerk on forms provided by the Township for such purposes. Any failure to receive notice from the Township shall not constitute grounds for failing to register the vacant and abandoned property.
Each vacant and abandoned property having a separate block and lot number as designated in the official tax maps of the Township shall be registered separately.
The registration statement shall include the name, street address, telephone number, and email address (if applicable) of a person 21 years or older, designated by the creditor or the owner 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 creditor in connection with the enforcement of any applicable code.
The registration statement shall include the name, street address, telephone number, and email address (if applicable) of the firm and the actual name(s) of the owner of the vacant or abandoned property or the firm's individual principal(s) responsible for maintaining the abandoned and vacant property. The owner or the individual or representative of the firm responsible for maintaining the abandoned and vacant 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. In the case of a creditor, both entities shown on the statement must maintain offices in the State of New Jersey or reside within the State of New Jersey.
The registration shall remain valid for one year from the date of registration except for the initial registration which shall be valid through December 31 of the year in which it was filed. The owner of the property or the creditor shall be required to renew the registration annually as long as the building remains vacant and abandoned and shall pay a registration or renewal fee in the amount prescribed in § 115-7 for each vacant and abandoned property registered.
By designating an authorized agent under the provisions of this article, 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 article shall be deemed to consent to the continuation of the agent’s designation for the purpose of this article until the owner notifies the Township of Sandyston of a change of the authorized agent or until the owner files a new annual registration statement. The designation of an authorized agent in no way releases the owner from any requirement of this section.
The annual renewal shall be completed by January 1 each year. The initial registration fee shall be pro-rated for registration statements received less than 10 months prior to that date.
The owner of the property or the creditor shall notify the Municipal Clerk within 30 calendar days of any change in the registration information by filing an amended registration statement on a form provided by the Municipal Clerk for such purpose.
The registration statement shall be deemed prima facie proof of the statements therein contained in any administrative enforcement proceeding or court proceeding instituted by the Township against the creditor.
The initial registration fee for each vacant and abandoned property under the provisions of this article shall be $500. The fee for the first annual renewal shall be $1,500 and the fee for the second annual renewal shall be $3,000. The fee for any subsequent annual renewal beyond the second renewal shall be $5,000.
The owner of any building that has become vacant and abandoned property, and any person maintaining, operating or collecting rent for any such building that has become vacant, shall, immediately:
Post a sign affixed to the inside of the building indicating the name, address and telephone number of the owner, the owner’s authorized agent for the purpose of service 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 of a size and placed in such a location so as to be legible from the nearest public street or sidewalk, whichever is nearer, but shall be no smaller than 15 inches by 17 inches; and
Enclose and secure the building against unauthorized entry and maintain the sign required in Subsection A of this section until the building is again legally occupied or demolished or until repair or rehabilitation of the building is complete; and
Make provision for the maintenance of the lawn and yard, including regular grass cutting; and
Make provision for the cessation of the delivery of mail, newspapers and circulars to the property; and
Make provision for the winterizing of the property by draining the water lines, other than buildings with a fire sprinkler system; and
Make provision for the cessation of electric or gas utility services to the property, other than buildings with a fire sprinkler system; and
Make provision for the regular maintenance of the exterior of the property.
Post the property properly with “No Tresspassing” signs of a nature sufficient to give notice to any person entering upon the property that it is against the law to enter the property without permission of the owner.
The owner of the property or a creditor filing a summons and complaint in an action to foreclose on a residential property within the Township shall be immediately responsible for the care, maintenance, security and upkeep of the exterior of the property, after the property becomes vacant and abandoned as defined in this article.
Where a creditor is located out-of-state, the creditor shall be responsible for appointing an in-state representative or agent to act on the creditor’s behalf for the purpose of satisfying the requirements of this section. Notice of said representative or agent shall be provided to the Municipal Clerk pursuant to § 115-6 and pursuant to paragraph (1) of subsection a. of section 17 of P.L.2008, c.127 (N.J.S.A. 46:10B-51).
The enforcement officers designated in this article shall be authorized to issue a notice to the owner of the property, or a creditor that has filed a summons and complaint in an action to foreclose on a residential property within the Township, if the enforcement officer determines that the owner of the property, or creditor that has filed a summons and complaint in an action to foreclose on a residential property within the Township has violated this article by failing to provide for the care, maintenance, security, and upkeep of the exterior of a vacant and abandoned property. Where a creditor is an out-of-state creditor, the notice shall be issued to the representative or agent that has been identified by the creditor pursuant to § 115-9 and paragraph (1) of subsection a. of section 17 of P.L.2008, c. 127 (N.J.S.A. 46:10B-51).
The notice referenced in Subsection A of this section shall require the owner or creditor to correct the violation(s) within 30 days of receipt of the notice, or within 10 days of receipt of the notice if the violation presents an imminent threat to public health and safety.
The issuance of a notice pursuant to Subsection A of this section shall constitute proof that a residential property is vacant and abandoned for the purposes of this article.
Notice may be posted on said properties of said summons and or notice by posting to said door or front structure.
The duty of administering and enforcing the provisions of this article is conferred upon the Municipal Clerk, Construction Official, Zoning Officer, Code Enforcement Official, and any other duly appointed representatives.
The owner of a property, or a creditor subject to this article that is found by the Municipal Court of the Township, or by any other court of competent jurisdiction, to be in violation of the requirement to correct a care, maintenance, security, or upkeep violation cited in a notice issued pursuant to this article shall be subject to a fine of up to $1,500 for each day of the violation. Any fines imposed pursuant to this section shall commence 31 days following the receipt of the notice, except if the violation presents an imminent risk to public health and safety, in which case any fines shall commence 11 days following receipt of the notice.
An out-of-state creditor subject to this article that is found by the Municipal Court of the Township, or by any other court of competent jurisdiction, to be in violation of the requirement to appoint an in-state representative or agent pursuant to this article shall be subject to a fine of up to $2,500 for each day of the violation. Any fines imposed on a creditor for the failure to appoint an in-state representative or agent shall commence on the day after the ten-day period set forth in paragraph (1) of subsection a. of section 17 of P.L.2008, c. 127 (N.J.S.A. 46:10B-51) for providing notice to the Municipal Clerk that a summons and complaint in an action to foreclose on a mortgage has been served.
The owner of a property, or a creditor subject to this article, that is found by the Municipal Court of the Township, or by any other court of competent jurisdiction, to be in violation of the requirement to register a vacant and abandoned property pursuant to § 115-6 shall be subject to a fine not exceeding $2,000. Any fines imposed on a creditor under § 115-6 shall commence 11 days following receipt of notice from the Township pursuant to § 115-6.
No less than 20% percent of any money collected by the Township pursuant to this article shall be utilized by the Township for municipal code enforcement purposes.
Nothing in this article is intended to nor shall be read to conflict or prevent the Township from taking action against buildings found to be unfit for human habitation or unsafe structures as provided in the applicable provisions of the Code of the Township and/or the Uniform Construction Code. Further, any action taken under any such Code provision other than the demolition of a structure shall not relieve the owner from its obligation under this article.
Municipal powers to rehabilitate abandon property. The Township hereby grants to itself all such powers granted to municipalities by the State of New Jersey for the rehabilitation of abandoned property. Such powers are set forth, inter alia, in the Abandoned Properties Rehabilitation Act (N.J.S.A. 55:19-78 et seq.) and in applicable portions of the New Jersey Urban Development Corporation Act (N.J.S.A. 55:19-1 thru -77). These statutory powers are collectively referred to as the “Enabling Statutes."