[Adopted 7-6-2017 by Ord. No. 17-02]
It is the purpose and intent of the Township to establish a process to address the increasing number of vacant, abandoned, foreclosed, and/or or otherwise distressed residential real properties located within the Township, and to identify, regulate, limit, and reduce the number of abandoned primary residential structures on properties located within the Township.
The Township finds, determines, and declares that primary residential buildings which remain vacant and unoccupied for any appreciable period of time become, at a minimum, harborage for rodents, sites of illegal occupancy and illegal activities, and fire hazards. Unkempt grounds surrounding such properties invite dumping and rubbish thereon, and the buildings at such properties become dilapidated, contribute to residential blight, depress surrounding property values, and require additional government services at taxpayers' expense. Unsupervised vacant, abandoned, and foreclosed residential properties have a negative impact on surrounding properties and neighborhoods. The Township has determined that owners of such structures and properties, and the lenders to whom they are mortgaged, should be held accountable for the physical condition of the property.
This article establishes responsibilities of owners of the vacant, abandoned, and foreclosed residential properties and structures and provides for administration and enforcement of standards related to such party and structures. This article incorporates the New Jersey Uniform Construction Code, any property maintenance code adopted by the Township of Mannington, and all other applicable federal, state, and local building and fire codes. This article shall apply to all vacant, abandoned, and foreclosed primary residential real property and structures within the Township of Mannington.
It is in the public interest for the Township to impose a fee in conjunction with registration of vacant, abandoned, and foreclosed primary residential real property structures in light of the disproportionate costs imposed on the Township by the presence of these properties.
The following words, terms and phrases, when used in this article, shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this section, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning.
- A. A residential vacant property at which the primary residential structure has been vacant for more than 30 calendar days, and which meets at least two of the following criteria:
- (1) Provides a location for loitering, vagrancy, unauthorized entry or other criminal activity;
- (2) Has one or more broken windows, or two or more windows boarded up, for more than 30 calendar days;
- (3) Has utilities disconnected or not in use;
- (4) Is not maintained in accordance with applicable codes;
- (5) Has taxes in arrears for a period of time exceeding one year;
- (6) Is only partially completed, is not fit for human occupancy, and has no active building permits on the property that will result in restoration of the premises to a safe and habitable condition; and/or
- (7) Is in default on a mortgage, has had a lis pendens filed against it by the lender holding a mortgage on the property, is subject to an ongoing foreclosure action by the lender, is subject to an application for a tax deed or pending tax assessors lien sale, or has been transferred to the lender under a deed in lieu of foreclosure.
- B. The designation of a property as "abandoned residential property" shall remain in place until such time as the property is lawfully occupied, sold or transferred to a new owner, the foreclosure action has been dismissed, or any default on the mortgage has been cured.
- APPLICABLE CODES
- The Code of the Township of Mannington including this article, the New Jersey Uniform Construction Code (N.J.A.C. 5:23), and all other laws and regulations applicable to the use, development, occupancy, maintenance, and protection of real property, including but not limited to any property maintenance code adopted by the Township of Mannington and the New Jersey Uniform Fire Code.
- The process by which a mortgage is enforced against a parcel of real property.
- INSPECT or INSPECTION
- A visual inspection to check for compliance with or violations of requirements set forth in applicable codes and/or for unsanitary conditions and hazards. Such inspections will be done in accordance with a checklist maintained by the Township Construction Office.
- A person, firm, or corporation holding a mortgage on a property.
- A recorded lien or interest in real property to secure payment of a loan.
- A borrower under a mortgage, who grants a lien or interest in residential property as security for the payment of a debt.
- A. An individual, partnership, association, corporation, company, titleholder, fiduciary, or their legal entity having a legal equitable title or any interest in any real property. Shall include the title holder, any agent of the title holder having authority to act with respect to a vacant and/or abandoned property, any foreclosing entity that has filed a notice with the Municipal Clerk pursuant to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 46:10B-51, or any other entity determined by the Township of Mannington to have authority to act with respect to the property.
- B. Any person, legal entity or other party having any ownership interest, whether legal or equitable, in real property. This term shall also apply to any person, legal entity or agent responsible for the construction, maintenance or operation of the property involved.
- PROPERTY MANAGEMENT COMPANY
- An owner, agent, local property manager, property maintenance company or similar entity responsible for the maintenance of abandoned residential property.
- Anything constructed or erected the use of which requires location on or attachment to the ground and includes buildings.
- VACANT PROPERTY
- An unimproved lot or parcel of real property that is not currently used or occupied, or an improved lot or parcel of real property with at least one building or structure that is not currently used or occupied. The registration requirements of this article are not intended to apply to unimproved parcels of property in their natural state that are not subject to development approvals, provided that such properties must comply with all other applicable property maintenance requirements.
An owner of abandoned residential property in the Township shall be responsible for registering the primary residential structure with the Township by complying with the affidavit, registration, and inspection fee requirements of this article. In the event the owner shall fail or refuse to register the property the lender, if any, shall be responsible for such compliance. Any additional structures not used as the primary residence are not subject to the registration requirements of this article.
An abandoned residential property shall be registered by its owner as required by this article within 30 calendar days following vacancy or within 30 calendar days after the owner acquires ownership, whichever is later.
Any lender who holds a mortgage or equity lien on residential real property located within the Township shall, immediately following default by the mortgagor, perform an inspection of the property to determine whether it is abandoned residential property as defined in this article. If the property meets the definition of abandoned residential property, and if the owner of the property has not registered it, the lender must, within 10 calendar days following the inspection, register the property as required by this article.
If a residential property is occupied but the mortgage remains in default it shall be inspected by the lender or the lender's designee monthly until 1) the mortgagor or other party remedies the default, in which case the lender's inspections may cease pending further default; or 2) the property is determined to be abandoned residential property as defined in this article, in which case the lender must, within 10 calendar days following such determination, register the property as required by this article.
If the Township, through inspection or otherwise, determines that a property is or may be abandoned residential property as defined in this article, the Township will notify the owner and any lender of the requirements of this article. Within 30 calendar days following issuance of such notice the owner must either prove to the Township's satisfaction that the property is not abandoned residential property as defined in this article or register the property as required by this article. If the owner does not provide the aforesaid proof or register the property within the aforesaid thirty-day period, the Township will send further notification to any lender who holds a mortgage on the property, in response to which the lender must, within 10 calendar days following such further notification, either prove to the Township's satisfaction that the property is not abandoned residential property as defined in this article or register the property as required by this article. An owner's or lender's nonreceipt of notice from the Township shall not diminish the owner's and lender's affirmative obligations pursuant to this article or otherwise constitute grounds for failing to register the property.
Registration pursuant to this article shall contain the name of the owner, the mortgagee and the server, the direct mailing address of the mortgagee and the server, a direct contact name and telephone number for both parties, facsimile number and e-mail address for both parties, the folio or tax number, and the name and twenty-four-hour contact telephone number of the property management company responsible for the security and maintenance of the property as well as for receiving notices of applicable 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; The individual or a 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.
The property shall be posted with the name and twenty-four-hour contact telephone number of a property management company located within 30 miles of the subject property. The posting shall be no less than 18 inches by 24 inches and shall be of a seventy-two-point Arial font and shall contain, along with the name and twenty-four-hour contact number, the words: "THIS PROPERTY MANAGED BY AND TO REPORT PROBLEMS OR CONCERNS CALL." The posting shall be placed on the interior of a window facing the street to the front of the property so it is visible from the street or secured to the exterior of the building structure facing the street to the front of the property so that it is visible from the street or, if no such area exists, on a stake of sufficient size to support the posting in a location that is visible from the street to the front of the property, but not readily accessible to vandals. The local property management company shall inspect the property on a regular basis to determine if the property is in compliance with the requirements of this article.
This article applies to all owners of residential property, and therefore shall also apply to properties that have been the subject of a foreclosure sale where the title was transferred to the beneficiary of a mortgage in the foreclosure and any properties transferred under a deed in lieu of foreclosure or sale.
Properties subject to this article shall remain under the annual registration requirement and the inspection, security and maintenance requirements of this article as long as they remain vacant or in default.
Any person or legal entity that has registered a property under this article must report any change of information or circumstances contained in the registration within 10 calendar days following any such change.
Failure to properly register or report changed information or circumstances as required by this article is a violation of this article and shall be subject to enforcement and penalties.
Pursuant to any administrative or judicial finding and determination that any property is in violation of this article, the municipality may take the necessary action to ensure compliance and place a lien on the property for the cost of the work performed to benefit the property and bring it into compliance.
All registration fees must be paid directly from the mortgagee, servicer, trustee, or owner. Third-party registration fees are not allowed without the consent of the Township and/or its authorized designee.
All fees applicable to this article may be revised by resolution of the Township Committee. Registration and inspection fees shall be paid at the time of submitting the registration affidavit. There shall also be a fee for the filing of any additional or new owner's affidavit, with such fee being set by resolution of the Township Committee. For properties that are not registered within the required time frame, an additional fee for the added cost of the Township's expenses in having to determine ownership, which may include, but is not limited to, title searches, shall be assessed and is immediately payable. The payment of all fees under this article is secured by a lien against the property, which may be placed on the tax roll for collection in the same manner and subject to the same interest and penalties applicable to delinquent special assessments.
The owner of any abandoned residential property registered under this article shall provide access to the Township to conduct exterior and interior inspections of the building to determine compliance with applicable codes, upon reasonable notice to the property owner or the designated agent. Such inspections shall be carried out on weekdays during the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., or such other time as may be mutually agreed upon between the owner and the Township.
If the owner or lender has failed to secure the property and it has been secured by the Township, the Township or its contracted agent may reenter the structure to conduct necessary inspections to assure compliance with the requirements of this article and to determine if there are emergency or hazardous health and safety conditions in existence.
Any person who violates any provision of this article 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 article shall be recoverable from the owner as defined herein and shall be a lien on the property.
For the purpose of this article, failure to properly register an abandoned residential property within the specified deadlines, failure to provide complete and correct information in connection with any registration, or failure to comply with any other provisions of this article shall be deemed to be violations of this article.
If the provisions of any section, subsection, paragraph, subdivision, or clause of this article shall be judged invalid by a court of competent jurisdiction, such order of judgment shall not affect or invalidate the remainder of any section, subsection, paragraph, subdivision, or clause of this article.
All ordinances or parts of ordinances inconsistent with or in conflict with this article are hereby repealed to the extent of such inconsistency.
This article shall take effect immediately final passage and publication in the manner prescribed by law.