Effective immediately, the owner of any vacant property as defined herein shall, within 30 calendar days after the building becomes vacant property or within 30 calendar days after assuming ownership of the vacant property, whichever is later, or within 10 calendar days of receipt of notice by the municipality, file a registration statement for such vacant property with the Township Code Enforcement Inspector (or contractor hired by the Township for this purpose) on forms provided by the Township or its contractor. The owners of property that is vacant on the effective date of this article shall have 30 days to register that property as set forth herein. Failure to receive notice by the municipality shall not constitute grounds for failing register the property.
Each property having a separate block and lot number as designated in official records of the municipality shall be registered separately.
The registration statement shall include the name, street address, telephone number, and e-mail address (if applicable) of a person 21 years or older, designated by the owner or owners as the authorized agent for receiving notices of code violations and for receiving process in any court proceeding or administrative enforcement proceeding on behalf of such owner or owners, in connection with the enforcement of any applicable code; and the name, street address, telephone number, and e-mail address (if applicable) of the firm and the actual name(s) of the firm's individual principal(s) responsible for maintaining the property. The individual or representative of the firm responsible for maintaining the property shall be available by telephone or in person on a twenty-four-hour-per-day, seven-day-per-week basis. The two entities may be the same or different persons. Both entities shown on the statement must reside or maintain offices in the State of New Jersey.
The registration shall remain valid for one year from the date of registration. The owner shall be required to renew the registration annually as long as the building remains a vacant property and shall pay a registration or renewal fee in the amount prescribed in the fee schedule of this article for each vacant property registered.
The annual renewal shall be completed within 15 days of the prior year's registration form's expiration date. A notice and invoice will be sent 30 days in advance of the renewal due date.
The owner shall notify the Code Enforcement Officer (or hired contractor) within 30 days of any change in the registration information by filing an amended registration statement.
The registration statement shall be deemed prima facie proof of the statements contained therein in any administrative enforcement or court proceeding instituted by the Township against the building owner.
The owner of any vacant property registered under this article shall provide access to the Township to conduct exterior and interior inspections of the building to determine compliance with municipal codes, upon reasonable notice to the property owner or the designated agent. Such inspections shall be carried out on weekdays during the hours of 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., or such other time as may be mutually agreed upon between the owner and the Township.
An owner may designate to the Township an agent or individual responsible for maintaining the property.
By designating an authorized agent under this section, the owner agrees that service on the agent of any notices of code violations and all process concerning the registered vacant property constitutes service on the owner. Any owner who has designated an authorized agent under the provisions of this section shall be deemed to consent to the continuation of the agent's designation for the purposes of this section until the owner notifies Middle Township in writing of a change of authorized agent or until the owner files a new annual registration statement.
Any owner who fails to register vacant property under this article shall be deemed to consent to service of notices or process by the posting of same in plain view on the building or by regular and certified mail service at the owner's last known address on record with Middle Township.
The initial registration fee for each building shall be $1,000. Registrations must be renewed annually. Properties must register on or before February 1 of each year.
The owner of any building that has become vacant, and any person operating or collecting rent for such building, shall, within 30 days thereof:
Enclose and secure the building against unauthorized entry as provided in the applicable provisions of the Township Code.
Post a sign on the building indicating the name, address and telephone number of the owner and/or the owner's agent for the purpose of service of process, as well as the name, address and phone number of the person responsible for day-to-day management of the building. The sign shall be at least eight inches by 10 inches in size and shall be legible from the nearest street or sidewalk.
Secure the building and maintain the sign until the building is again legally occupied or demolished, or repair is complete.
Ensure that the exterior grounds of the structure are well maintained and free from trash debris, litter and grass and weed growth.
Notice to person responsible. Whenever the code official determines that there has been a violation of this code or has grounds to believe that violation has occurred, notice shall be given in the manner prescribed to the person responsible for the violation as specified in this code.
Form. Such notice shall:
Be in writing.
Include a description of the real estate sufficient for identification.
Include a statement of the violation or violations and why the notice is being issued.
Include a correction order allowing a reasonable time to make the repairs and improvements required to bring the dwelling unit or structure into compliance with the provisions of this code.
Inform the property owner of the right to appeal.
Include a statement of the right to file a lien in accordance with this chapter.
Method of service. Such notice shall be deemed to be properly served if a copy thereof is:
Unauthorized tampering. Signs, tags or seals posted or affixed by the code official shall not be mutilated, destroyed or tampered with, or removed without authorization from the code official.
Transfer of ownership. It shall be unlawful for the owner of any dwelling unit or structure who has received a compliance order or upon whom a notice of violation has been served to sell, transfer, mortgage, lease or otherwise dispose of such dwelling unit or structure to another until the provisions of the compliance order or notice of violation has been complied with, or until such owner shall first furnish the grantee, transferee, mortgagee or lessee a true copy of any compliance order or notice of violation issued by the code official and shall furnish to the code official a signed and notarized statement from the grantee, transferee, mortgagee or lessee, acknowledging the receipt of such compliance order or notice of violation and fully accepting the responsibility without condition for making the corrections or repairs required by such compliance order or notice of violation. If any such transfer by an owner does occur, then the new owner takes such title and the property subject to the compliance order, notice of violation, and/or Municipal Court complaints, and any other legal or administrative actions, and shall be deemed to be the responsible party in any action and in any venue, and shall be responsible for satisfying all other penalties and conditions, monetary or otherwise.
Any person who violates any provision of this article or of the rules and regulations issued hereunder shall be subject to the general penalties in § 1-15 of the Middle Township Code for each offense. Every day that a violation continues shall constitute a separate and distinct offense. Fines assessed under this chapter shall be recoverable from the owner and shall be a lien on the property.
Failure to file a registration statement within 30 calendar days after a building becomes vacant property or within 30 calendar days after assuming ownership of a vacant property, whichever is later, or within 10 calendar days of receipt of notice by the municipality; failure to provide correct information on the registration statement; or failure to comply with the provisions of such provisions contained herein shall be deemed to be violations of this article.