Township of Middle, NJ
Cape May County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
It is hereby found and determined that there exist in the Township of Middle buildings that are unfit for human habitation, occupancy or use due to dilapidation; defects increasing the hazards of fire, accidents or other calamities; lack of ventilation, light or sanitary facilities; or other conditions rendering such buildings or parts thereof unsafe or insanitary or dangerous or detrimental to the health or safety or otherwise inimical to the welfare of the residents of the Township of Middle and that a public necessity exists for the repair, closing or demolition of such building or buildings or part thereof.
The public officer may determine that a building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use if he finds that conditions exist in such building that are dangerous or injurious to the health or safety of the occupants of such building, the occupants of neighboring buildings or other residents of the Township of Middle. Such conditions may include the following:
A. 
Defects therein increasing the hazards of fire, accident or other calamities.
B. 
Faulty construction.
C. 
Lack of adequate ventilation, light or sanitary facilities.
D. 
Dilapidation.
E. 
Unstable conditions.
F. 
Disrepair.
G. 
Structural defects.
H. 
Uncleanliness.
I. 
Failure to have included in said building running water or inside toilet facilities.
J. 
Failure to have serving said building a sewage disposal system that meets the minimum standards of any applicable ordinance or statute.
Whenever the public officer of the Township of Middle, designated herein, finds that there exists in the Township of Middle any building or buildings that are unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use due to dilapidation; defects increasing the hazards of fire, accidents or other calamities; lack of ventilation, light or sanitation facilities; or other conditions rendering such building or buildings or part thereof unsafe or insanitary or dangerous or detrimental to the health or safety or otherwise inimical to the welfare of the residents of the Township of Middle, then the public officer shall exercise the power vested under this chapter and under its police powers to repair, close or demolish or cause the repairing, closing or demolition of such building or buildings or part thereof in the manner provided.
A. 
It is hereby found and declared that the existence or occupation of any building or buildings, or parts thereof, which are so old, dilapidated or have become so out of repair as to be dangerous, unsafe, insanitary or otherwise unfit for human habitation, or occupancy, or use, are inimical to the welfare and dangerous and injurious to the health and safety of the people of the Township, and that a public necessity exists for the repair, closing or demolition of such building or buildings, or part thereof. Whenever the public officer finds that there exists any building or buildings that are unfit for human habitation or occupancy, or use, due to dilapidation, defects increasing the hazards of fire, accidents or other calamities, lack of ventilation, light or sanitation facilities, or due to other conditions rendering such building or buildings, or part thereof, unsafe or insanitary, or dangerous or detrimental to the health or safety or otherwise inimical to the welfare of the residents, Middle Township may exercise its police powers to repair, close or demolish, or cause or require the repairing, closing or demolition of, such building or buildings, or part thereof, in the manner herein provided.
B. 
Complaint, investigation and hearing. Whenever a petition is filed with the public officer by a public authority or by not fewer than five residents of this municipality charging that any dwelling located therein is unfit for human habitation, the public officer shall make a preliminary investigation of the charges, and if his preliminary investigation of said charges discloses a basis therefor, or whenever it appears to the public officer from his own investigation that any dwelling is unfit for human habitation, said public officer shall issue and cause to be served upon the owner of and parties in interest in such dwelling a complaint, stating the charges in that respect and containing a notice that a hearing will be held before the public officer at a place therein fixed not less than 30 days nor more than 120 days after the serving of said complaint.
C. 
Repair, demolition of damaged buildings. Any building or buildings, or parts thereof, that have been damaged to such an extent that nothing remains but the walls, or parts of the walls and other supports shall, regardless of the safety and sturdiness of those remaining walls or parts thereof, be deemed inimical to the welfare of the residents of the municipality wherein it is located, and the municipality may exercise its police powers to repair, demolish, or cause the repairing or demolishing of the building or buildings, or parts thereof, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.3 et seq., and the procedures set forth therein.
D. 
Rights of owner. The owner and parties in interest shall have the right to file an answer to the complaint and to appear in person or by attorney and give testimony at the place and time fixed in said notice of hearing.
E. 
Evidence. The rules of evidence prevailing in courts of law or equity shall not be controlling in hearings before the public officer.
F. 
Conduct of hearing. At the time and place stated in said notice or at such time and place to which said hearing shall be adjourned from time to time, the public officer shall hold a hearing at which complainants, if any, and the owner and parties in interest and witnesses shall be heard and at which said public officer shall publicly state the results of his investigation.
G. 
Determination of public officer; order. If after such notice and hearing the public officer determines that the dwelling under consideration is unfit for human habitation, he shall state, in writing, his determination and his findings of fact in support thereof and shall issue and cause to be served upon the owner thereof and parties in interest an order:
(1) 
Requiring the owner, within the time specified in the order, to repair, alter or improve said dwelling to render it fit for human habitation if the repair, alteration or improvement of said dwelling can be made at a reasonable cost in relation to the value of the dwelling; or, at the option of the owner, to vacate and close the dwelling; or
(2) 
Requiring the owner, within the specified in the order, to remove or demolish such dwelling if the repair, alteration or improvement of said dwelling cannot be made at a reasonable cost in relation to the value of dwelling.
H. 
Failure of owner to comply.
(1) 
If the owner fails to comply with an order so issued by the public officer to repair, alter or improve or, at the option of owner, to vacate and close the dwelling, the public officer may cause such dwelling to be repaired, altered or improved or to be vacated and closed, and the public officer may cause to be posted on the main entrance of any dwelling so closed a placard with the following words: "This building is unfit for human habitation; the use or occupation of this building for human habitation is prohibited and unlawful."
(2) 
If the owner fails to comply with an order to remove or demolish the dwelling, the public officer may cause such dwelling to be removed or demolished.
I. 
Recovery of costs. The amount of the cost of such repairs, alterations or improvements, or vacating and closing, or removal or demolition, and any other consequential costs, shall be a municipal lien against the real property upon which such cost was incurred. If the dwelling is removed or demolished by the public officer, he shall sell the materials of such dwelling and shall credit the proceeds of such sale against the cost of the removal or demolition, and any balance remaining shall be deposited in the Chancery Division of the Superior Count by the public officer, shall be secured in such manner as may be directed by such Court, and shall be disbursed by such Court to the persons found to be entitled thereto by final order or judgment of such Court.
J. 
Additional powers of public officer. In addition to the powers in this section granted to the public officer, he shall also have the powers:
(1) 
To investigate the dwelling conditions in the municipality in order to determine which dwellings therein are unfit for human habitation.
(2) 
To administer oaths and affirmations, examine witnesses and receive evidence.
(3) 
To enter upon premises for the purpose of making examinations, provided that such entries shall be made in such a manner as to cause the least possible inconvenience to the persons in possession.
(4) 
To issue complaints against owners, either on his or her own motion or in response to petitions from others.
(5) 
To hold hearings on complaints.
(6) 
To issue orders requiring owners to repair, vacate or demolish properties as appropriate.
(7) 
To take action to repair, vacate or demolish properties, if the owner fails to do so, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.5.
K. 
Power to abate nuisances. Nothing in this section shall impair or limit in any way the power of this municipality to define and declare nuisances and to cause their removal or abatement, by summary proceedings or otherwise.
L. 
Violations. The failure, neglect or refusal of any person to comply with any order made by the public officer pursuant to the provisions hereof, or the hindrance by any person of the public officer in making any investigation under this section, shall constitute a violation of this section.
M. 
Statutory authority; findings. This section is adopted pursuant to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.3 to 40:48-2.12, as amended and supplemented, and after the adoption by the Township Committee of said Township of a resolution finding that there are dwellings in said municipality unfit for human habitation due to dilapidation, defects increasing the hazards of fire, accidents or other calamities, lack of ventilation, light or sanitary facilities, and other conditions rendering such dwellings unsafe or insanitary or dangerous or detrimental to the health or safety and otherwise inimical to the welfare of the residents of this Township.
A complaint or order issued by the public officer pursuant to this chapter shall be served upon persons either personally or by registered mail, but if the whereabouts of such persons is unknown and cannot be ascertained by the public officer in the exercise of reasonable diligence and the public officer shall make an affidavit to that effect, then the serving of such complaint or order upon such persons shall be made by publishing the complaint or order in the official newspaper of the Township, and by posting the a copy of the complaint or order in a conspicuous place on the premises affected by the complaint or order. A copy of such complaint or order shall be duly recorded or lodged for record in the office of the Cape May County Clerk.