Township of Byram, NJ
Sussex County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
A. 
Title. These regulations shall be known as the "Property Maintenance Code of the Township of Byram," hereinafter referred to as "this chapter."
B. 
Scope. This chapter is to protect the public health, safety and welfare in all existing structures, residential and nonresidential, and on all existing premises by establishing minimum requirements and standards for premises, structures, equipment, and facilities for light, ventilation, space, heating, sanitation, protection from the elements, life safety, safety from fire and other hazards, and for safe and sanitary maintenance; fixing the responsibility of owners, operators and occupants; regulating the occupancy of existing structures and premises, and providing for administration, enforcement and penalties.
C. 
Intent. This chapter shall be construed to secure its expressed intent, which is to ensure public health, safety and welfare insofar as they are affected by the continued occupancy and maintenance of structures and premises. Existing structures and premises that do not comply with these provisions shall be altered or repaired to provide a minimum level of health and safety as required herein.
D. 
Referenced standards. The standards referenced in this chapter and listed in Article VIII shall be considered part of the requirements of this chapter to the prescribed extent of each such reference. Where differences occur between provisions of this chapter and referenced standards, the provisions of this chapter shall apply.
E. 
Existing remedies. The provisions in this chapter shall not be construed to abolish or impair existing remedies of the jurisdiction or its officers or agencies relating to the removal or demolition of any structure which is dangerous, unsafe and unsanitary.
F. 
Workmanship. All repairs, maintenance work, alterations or installations which are caused directly or indirectly by the enforcement of this chapter shall be executed and installed in a workmanlike manner.
G. 
Application of other codes. Any repairs, additions or alterations to a structure, or changes of occupancy, shall be done in accordance with the procedures and provisions of the building, plumbing and mechanical codes and NFPA 70 listed in Article VIII.
H. 
Validity. If any section, subsection, paragraph, sentence, clause or phrase of this Chapter 186 shall be declared invalid for any reason whatsoever, such decision shall not affect the remaining portions of this chapter, which shall continue in full force and effect, and to this end the provisions of this chapter are hereby declared to be severable.
I. 
Saving clause. This chapter shall not affect violations of any other ordinance, code or regulation 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.
All equipment, systems, devices and safeguards required by this chapter or a previous statute or code for the structure or premises when erected or altered shall be maintained in good working order. The requirements of this chapter are not intended to provide the basis for removal or abrogation of fire protection and safety systems and devices in existing structures.
A. 
Approved materials and equipment. All materials, equipment and devices approved by the Code Official shall be constructed and installed in accordance with such approval.
B. 
Modifications. Where there are practical difficulties involved in carrying out provisions of this chapter, the Code Official shall have the right to vary or modify such provisions upon application of the owner or the owner's representative, provided that the spirit and intent of the law is observed and that the public health, safety and welfare is assured.
C. 
Records. The application for modification and the final decision of the Code Official shall be in writing and shall be officially recorded in the permanent records of the Department.
D. 
Material and equipment reuse. Materials, equipment and devices shall not be reused unless such elements have been reconditioned, tested and placed in good and proper working condition and approved.
E. 
Alternative materials and equipment. The provisions of this chapter are not intended to prevent the installation of any material or method of construction not specifically prescribed by this chapter, provided that any such alternative has been approved. An alternative material or method of construction shall be approved when the Code Official finds the proposed design is satisfactory and complies with the intent of the provisions of this chapter, and that the material, method or work offered is, for the purpose intended, at least the equivalent of that prescribed in this chapter in quality, strength, effectiveness, fire resistance, durability and safety.
F. 
Research and investigation. Sufficient technical data shall be submitted to substantiate the proposed installation of any material or assembly. If it is determined that the evidence submitted is satisfactory proof of performance for the proposed installation, the Code Official shall approve such alternative subject to the requirements of this chapter. The cost of all tests, reports and investigations required under these provisions shall be paid by the applicant.
A. 
General. The Code Official shall enforce all of the provisions of this chapter.
B. 
Notices and orders. The Code Official shall issue all necessary notices or orders to ensure compliance with the chapter.
C. 
Right of entry. The Code Official is authorized to seek entry to the structure or premises at reasonable times to inspect, subject to constitutional restrictions on unreasonable searches and seizures. If entry is refused or not obtained, the Code Official is authorized to pursue recourse as provided by law.
D. 
Access by owner or operator. Every occupant of a structure or premises shall give the owner or operator thereof, or agent or employee, access to any part of such structure or its premises at reasonable times for the purpose of making such inspection, maintenance, repairs or alterations as are necessary to comply with the provisions of this chapter.
E. 
Identification. The Code Official shall carry proper identification when inspecting structures or premises in the performance of duties under this chapter.
F. 
Coordination of enforcement. Inspection of premises, the issuance of notices and orders and enforcement thereof shall be the responsibility of the Code Official so charged by the jurisdiction. Whenever inspections are necessary by any other department, the Code Official shall make reasonable effort to arrange for the coordination of such inspections so as to minimize the number of visits by inspectors and to confer with the other departments for the purpose of eliminating conflicting orders before they are issued. A department shall not, however, delay the issuance of any emergency orders.
G. 
Rule-making authority. The Code Official shall have power as necessary in the interest of public health, safety and general welfare to adopt and promulgate rules and regulations to interpret and implement the provisions of this chapter to secure the intent thereof and to designate requirements applicable because of local climatic or other conditions. Such rules shall not have the effect of waiving structural or fire performance requirements specifically provided for in this chapter or of violating accepted engineering practice involving public safety.
H. 
Organization. The Code Official shall appoint such number of officers, technical assistants, inspectors and other employees as shall be necessary for the administration of this chapter and as authorized by the appointing authority. The Code Official is authorized to designate an employee as deputy, who shall exercise all the powers of the Code Official during the temporary absence or disability of the Code Official. Any such appointments are subject to appropriations by the municipality's governing body.
I. 
Restriction of employees. An official or employee connected with the enforcement of this chapter shall not be engaged in, or directly or indirectly connected with, the furnishing of labor, materials or appliances for the construction, alteration or maintenance of a building, or the preparation of construction documents thereof, unless that person is the owner of the building, nor shall such officer or employee engage in any work that conflicts with official duties or with the interests of the Department.
J. 
Relief from personal responsibility. The Code Official, officer or employee charged with the enforcement of this chapter, while acting for the jurisdiction, shall not thereby be rendered liable personally, and is hereby relieved from all personal liability for any damage accruing to persons or property as a result of any act required or permitted in the discharge of official duties. Any suit instituted against an officer or employee because of an act performed by that officer or employee in the lawful discharge of duties and under the provisions of this chapter shall be defended by the legal representative of the jurisdiction until the final termination of the proceedings. The Code Official or any subordinate shall not be liable for costs in any action, suit or proceeding that is instituted in pursuance of the provisions of this chapter, and any officer of the Department of Building Inspection, acting in good faith and without malice, shall be free from liability for acts performed under any of its provisions or by reason of any act or omission in the performance of official duties in connection therewith.
K. 
Official records. An official record shall be kept of all business and activities of the Department specified in the provisions of this chapter, and all such records shall be open to public inspection at all appropriate times and according to reasonable rules to maintain the integrity and security of such records.
A. 
Unlawful acts. It shall be unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to erect, construct, alter, extend, repair, remove, demolish, maintain, fail to maintain, provide, fail to provide, occupy, let to another or occupy or permit another person to occupy any premises, property, structure or equipment regulated by this chapter, or cause same to be done, contrary to or in conflict with or in violation of any of the provisions of this chapter, or to fail to obey a lawful order of the Code Official, or to remove or deface a placard or notice posted under the provisions of this chapter.
B. 
Penalty. Any person who shall violate a provision of this chapter shall, upon conviction thereof, be subject to a fine of not less than $200 nor more than $1,000 per violation or imprisonment for a term not to exceed 10 days, or both, at the discretion of the court. Each day that a violation continues after due notice has been served shall be deemed a separate offense.
C. 
Prosecution. In case of any unlawful acts, the Code Official shall institute an appropriate action or proceeding at law to exact the penalty provided in § 186-5B. Also, the Code Official shall ask the jurisdiction's legal representative to proceed at law or in equity against the person responsible for the violation for the purpose of ordering that person:
(1) 
To restrain, correct or remove the violation or refrain from any further execution of work;
(2) 
To restrain or correct the erection, installation, maintenance, repair or alteration of such structure;
(3) 
To require the removal of work in violation; or
(4) 
To prevent the occupancy of the structure that is not in compliance with the provisions of this chapter.
A. 
Notice to owner or to person or persons responsible. Whenever the Code Official determines that there has been a violation of this chapter or has grounds to believe that a violation has occurred, notice shall be given to the owner or the person or persons responsible therefor in the manner prescribed in §§ 186-6B and C. Notices for condemnation procedures shall also comply with § 186-7G.
B. 
Form. Such notice prescribed in § 186-6A shall:
(1) 
Be in writing;
(2) 
Include a description of the real estate sufficient for identification;
(3) 
Include a statement of the reason or reasons why the notice is being issued; and
(4) 
Include a correction order allowing a reasonable time for the repairs and improvements required to bring the dwelling unit or structure into compliance with the provisions of this chapter.
C. 
Method of service. Such notice shall be deemed to be properly served if a copy thereof is delivered to the owner personally or sent by certified or registered mail addressed to the owner at the last known address with return receipt requested. If the certified or registered letter is returned showing that the letter was not delivered, a copy thereof shall be posted in a conspicuous place in or about the structure affected by such notice. Service of such notice in the foregoing manner upon the owner's agent or upon the person responsible for the structure shall constitute service of notice of the owner.
D. 
Penalties. Penalties for noncompliance with orders and notices shall be as set forth in § 186-5B.
E. 
Transfer of ownership. It shall be unlawful for the owner of any dwelling unit, structure or property 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 the property to another until the provisions of the compliance order or notice of violation have 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.
A. 
General. When a structure or equipment is found by the Code Official to be unsafe, or when a structure is found unfit for human occupancy or is found unlawful, such structure shall be condemned pursuant to the provisions of this chapter.
B. 
Unsafe structure. An unsafe structure is one that is found to be dangerous to the life, health, property or safety of the public or the occupants of the structure by not providing minimum safeguards to protect or warn occupants in the event of fire, or because such structure contains unsafe equipment or is so damaged, decayed, dilapidated, structurally unsafe or of such faulty construction or unstable foundation that partial or complete collapse is likely.
C. 
Unsafe equipment. Unsafe equipment includes any boiler, heating equipment, elevator, moving stairway, electrical wiring or device, flammable liquid containers or other equipment on the premises or within the structure which is in such disrepair or condition that such equipment is a hazard to life, health, property or safety of the public or occupants of the premises or structure.
D. 
Structure unfit for human occupancy. A structure is unfit for human occupancy whenever the Code Official finds that such structure is unsafe, unlawful or, because of the degree to which the structure is in disrepair or lacks maintenance, is unsanitary, vermin- or rat-infested, contains filth and contamination, or lacks ventilation, illumination, sanitary or heating facilities or other essential equipment required by this chapter, or because the location of the structure constitutes a hazard to the occupants of the structure or to the public.
E. 
Unlawful structure. An unlawful structure is one found in whole or in part to be occupied by more persons than permitted under this chapter or which was erected, altered or occupied contrary to law.
F. 
Closing of vacant structures. If the structure is vacant and unfit for human habitation and occupancy and is not in danger of structural collapse, the Code Official is authorized to post a placard of condemnation on the premises and order the structure closed up so as not to be an attractive nuisance. Upon failure of the owner to close up the premises within the time specified in the order, the Code Official shall cause the premises to be closed through any available public agency or by contract or arrangement by private persons, and the cost thereof shall be charged against the real estate upon which the structure is located and shall be a lien upon such real estate.
G. 
Notice. Whenever the Code Official has condemned a structure or equipment under the provisions of this section, notice shall be posted in a conspicuous place in or about the structure affected by such notice and served on the owner or the person or the persons responsible for the structure or equipment in accordance with § 186-6C. The notice shall be in the form prescribed in § 186-6B.
H. 
Placarding. Upon failure of the owner or person responsible to comply with the notice provisions within the time given, the Code Official shall post on the premises or on defective equipment a placard bearing the word "Condemned" and a statement of the penalties provided for occupying the premises, operating the equipment or removing the placard.
I. 
Prohibited occupancy. Any person who shall occupy a placarded premises or shall operate placarded equipment, and any owner or any person responsible for the premises who shall let anyone occupy a placarded premises or operate placarded equipment, shall be liable for the penalties provided by this chapter.
J. 
Removal of placard. The Code Official shall remove the condemnation placard whenever the defect or defects upon which the condemnation and placarding action were based have been eliminated. Any person who defaces or removes a condemnation placard without the approval of the Code Official shall be subject to the penalties provided by this chapter.
A. 
Imminent danger. When, in the opinion of the Code Official, there is imminent danger of failure or collapse of a building or structure which endangers life, or when any structure or part of a structure has fallen and life is endangered by the occupation of the structure, or when there is actual or potential danger to the building occupants or those in the proximity of any structure because of explosives, explosive fumes or vapors or the presence of toxic fumes, gases or materials, or operation of defective or dangerous equipment, the Code Official is hereby authorized and empowered to order and require the occupants to vacate the premises forthwith. The Code Official shall cause to be posted at each entrance to such structure a notice reading as follows: "This structure is unsafe and its occupancy has been prohibited by the Code Official." It shall be unlawful for any person to enter such structure except for the purpose of securing the structure, making the required repairs, removing the hazardous condition, or of demolishing the same.
B. 
Temporary safeguards. Notwithstanding other provisions of this chapter, whenever, in the opinion of the Code Official, there is imminent danger due to an unsafe condition, the Code Official shall order the necessary work to be done, including the boarding-up of openings, to render such structure temporarily safe whether or not the legal procedure herein described has been instituted, and shall cause such other action to be taken as the Code Official deems necessary to meet such emergency.
C. 
Closing streets. When necessary for the public safety, the Code Official shall temporarily close structures and close or order the authority having jurisdiction to close the sidewalks, streets, public ways and places adjacent to unsafe structures and prohibit the same from being utilized.
D. 
Emergency repairs. For the purposes of this section, the Code Official shall employ the necessary labor and materials to perform the required work as expeditiously as possible.
E. 
Costs of emergency repairs. If the owner, entity or person in possession of the dwelling or lands in question shall fail to abate the condition complained of within the time period specified after receipt of notice, the Code Official or his designee shall cause the condition complained of to be abated, either by action of the Department of Public Works or by engagement of an outside contractor, and shall present a report of the work accomplished to the Township Council, along with a summary of the abatement undertaken to secure compliance. He or she shall certify the actual labor costs of same plus 25%, but not less than the administrative fee of $100, to the Township Council, which shall examine the report and certificate and, if it is correct, cause the cost as shown thereon to be charged against the dwelling or lands. A copy of the resolution approving the expenses shall be certified by the Township Clerk and filed with the Tax Collector, who shall be responsible for the collection thereof. The amount so charged shall forthwith become a lien upon the dwelling or lands and shall be added to and become and form part of the taxes next assessed and levied upon such dwelling and lands, shall bear interest at the same rate as the taxes, and shall be collected and enforced by the same officer and in the same manner as taxes. Costs shall be in addition to any penalties imposed for any violation of this chapter.
[Amended 9-6-2011 by Ord. No. 11-2011]
F. 
Hearing. Any person ordered to take emergency measures shall comply with such order forthwith. Any affected person shall thereafter, upon petition directed to the appeals board, be afforded a hearing as described in this chapter.
A. 
General. The Code Official shall order the owner of any premises: upon which is located any structure which in the Code Official's judgment is so old, dilapidated or has become so out of repair as to be dangerous, unsafe, unsanitary or otherwise unfit for human habitation or occupancy and such that it is unreasonable to repair the structure, to raze and remove such structure; or if such structure is capable of being made safe by repairs, to repair and make safe and sanitary or to raze and remove at the owner's option; or where there has been a cessation of normal construction of any structure for a period of more than two years, to raze and remove such structure.
B. 
Order. All notices and orders shall comply with § 186-6A.
C. 
Failure to comply. If the owner of a premises fails to comply with a demolition order within the time prescribed, the Code Official shall cause the structure to be razed and removed, either through an available public agency or by contract or arrangement with private persons, and the cost of such razing and removal shall be charged against the real estate upon which the structure is located and shall be a lien upon such real estate. The Construction Official must receive the approval of the Township Council prior to taking or authorizing action under this subsection.
D. 
Salvage materials. When any structure has been ordered razed and removed, the governing body or other designated officer under said contract or arrangement aforesaid shall have the right to sell the salvage and valuable materials at the highest price obtainable. The net proceeds of such sale, after deducting the expenses of such razing and removal, shall be promptly remitted with a report of such sale or transaction, including the items of expense and the amounts deducted, for the person who is entitled thereto, subject to any order of a court. If such a surplus does not remain to be turned over, the report shall so state.
A. 
Application for appeal: Any person affected by a decision of the Code Official or a notice or order issued under this chapter shall have the right to appeal to the Township Council, provided that a written application for appeal is filed within 20 days after the day the decision, notice or order was served. An application for appeal shall be based on a claim that the true intent of this chapter or the rules legally adopted thereunder have been incorrectly interpreted, the provisions of this chapter do not fully apply, or the requirements of this chapter are adequately satisfied by other means.
B. 
Notice of meeting: The appeal shall be considered by the Township Council at a regularly scheduled or a special meeting.
C. 
Open hearing: All hearings before the Township Council shall be open to the public. The appellant, the appellant's representative, the Code Official and any person whose interests are affected shall be given an opportunity to be heard.
D. 
Postponed hearing: When five members are not present to hear an appeal, either the appellant or the appellant's representative shall have the right to request a postponement of the hearing.
E. 
Township Council decision: The Township Council shall modify or reverse the decision of the Code Official by a concurring vote of three members.
F. 
Resolution: The decision of the Township Council shall be by resolution. Certified copies shall be furnished to the appellant and to the Code Official.
G. 
Administration: The Code Official shall take immediate action in accordance with the decision of the Township Council.
H. 
Court review: Any person, whether or not a previous party of the appeal, shall have the right to apply to the appropriate court for a writ of certiorari to correct errors of law. Application for review shall be made in the manner and time required by law following the filing of the decision in the office of the Municipal Clerk.