[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Mendham 8-18-1997 by Ord. No. 24-97 (Ch. 51 of the 1974 Code). Amendments noted where applicable.]
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- Any building or structure or part thereof, whether used for human habitation or otherwise, and includes any outhouses and appurtenances belonging thereto or usually enjoyed therewith.
- The Rehabilitation Director charged with the enforcement of this chapter.
- The holder or holders of the title in fee simple.
- PARTIES IN INTEREST
- All individuals, associations and corporations who have interests of record in a building and any who are in actual possession thereof.
- PUBLIC AUTHORITY
- Any housing authority or official who is in charge of any department or branch of the government of the borough, county or state relating to health, fire, building regulations or to other activities concerning buildings in the borough.
It has been found and declared that there exist in the borough buildings which are so old, dilapidated or have become so out of repair as to be dangerous, unsafe, unsanitary or otherwise unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use and that the occupancy or use of such buildings for any purpose is inimical to the health and safety of the people of the borough and that a public necessity exists for the repair, closing or demolition of such buildings.
[Amended 6-3-2013 by Ord. No. 7-13]
For the enforcement of provisions of this chapter, the Construction Official for the Borough shall serve as the Rehabilitation Director and shall exercise all powers of the Public Officer conferred upon him or her by N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.3 et seq.
Whenever it appears that there exists in the borough any building which is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, due to dilapidation, disrepair, structural defect increasing the hazards of fire, accidents or other calamities, lack of adequate ventilation, light or sanitary facilities or due to other conditions rending such building unsafe or unsanitary and dangerous or detrimental to the health or safety or otherwise inimical to the welfare of the residents, the Director shall, upon the filing of a petition by a public authority or by at least five residents of the borough, charging that any building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, or if it shall appear to such Director on his or her own motion that any building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, the Director shall make a preliminary investigation to be made concerning the basis for such charges.
Buildings shall be considered unfit for human habitation, or occupancy, or use, within the meaning of § 81-4, when one or more of the following conditions are found to exist:
Condition of structure. The condition of the structure is such as to make it unsafe or unsanitary through the presence or serious safety hazards resulting from the need for major repairs to roof, walls, ceilings, floors or stairs or through the presence of serious health hazards resulting from continuous dampness or exposures brought about by neglect or dilapidation.
Water supply. Lack of potable running water within each dwelling or lack of hot water facilities available to each dwelling.
Sewerage system. No connection between plumbing fixtures and adequate sewage disposal system.
Toilet facilities. No flush toilet, fit for use, in each building.
Bath facilities. No bathtub or shower, fit for use, in each dwelling.
Kitchen facilities. Lack of permanent, safe and reasonably efficient kitchen facilities within each dwelling unit, including sink with running water and provisions for a cooking stove.
Lighting facilities. Building inadequately wired for electricity.
Heating facilities. Heating facilities inadequate or unsafe.
Light and ventilation. Living room, bedroom or kitchen with no windows or with windows opening on an airshaft, or toilet or bathroom without adequate ventilation.
If a preliminary investigation shall disclose to the Director a basis for the charges filed, he or she shall issue and cause to be served upon the owner of and parties in interest in such building a complaint stating the charges in that respect. The complaint shall also contain a notice that a hearing will be held before him or her at a place therein fixed not less than 10 days nor more than 30 days after the serving of the complaint.
The owner and parties in interest shall have the right to file an answer to the complaint and to appear in person, by counsel or otherwise and give testimony at the time and place fixed in the complaint. The rules of evidence prevailing in the courts shall not be controlling in hearings before the Director.
The Director may determine that a building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use if he or she finds that conditions exist in such building which are dangerous or injurious to the health and safety of the occupants of such building, the occupants of neighboring buildings or other residents of the borough; such conditions may include, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, defects increasing the hazards of fire, accidents or other calamities; lack of adequate ventilation, light or sanitary facilities; dilapidation; disrepair, structure defects, uncleanliness and the conditions set forth in §§ 81-4 and 81-5.
When after such notice and hearing, the Director determines that the building under consideration is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use, he or she shall state, in writing, his or her findings of fact in support of such determination and shall issue and cause to be served upon the owner thereof and the parties in interest an order, as follows:
Requiring the repair, alteration or improvement of the building to be made by the owner, within a reasonable time, which shall in no event exceed 90 days from the order, which time shall be set forth in the order or, at the option of the owner, to vacate or have the building vacated and closed within the time set forth in the order.
If the building is in such a condition as to make it dangerous to the health and safety of persons on or near the premises and the owner fails to repair, alter or improve the building within the time specified in the order, then the owner shall be required to remove or demolish the building within a reasonable time to be specified in the order.
Placarding. If the owner fails to comply with an order to repair, alter or improve or, at the option of the owner, to vacate and close the building, the Director may cause such building to be repaired, altered or improved or to be vacated and closed. The Director shall cause to be posted on the main entrance of any building so closed a placard with the following words: "This building is unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use; the use or occupation of this building is prohibited and unlawful."
Removal by borough. If the owner fails to comply with an order to remove or demolish the building, the Director may cause such building to be removed or demolished or may contract for the removal or demolition thereof after advertisement and after receipt of bids therefor.
The amount of the cost of filing of legal papers, expert witnesses' fees, search fees and advertising charges, incurred in the course of any proceeding taken under this chapter determined in favor of the borough and such repairs, alterations or improvements or vacating and closing or removal or demolition, when done by the Director, shall be a municipal lien against the real property upon which cost was incurred.
If the building is removed or demolished by the Director, he or she shall sell the materials of such building. There shall be credited against the cost of the removal or demolition thereof, including the clearance and, if necessary, leveling of the site, the proceeds of any sale of such materials or any sum derived from any contract for the removal or demolition of the building. If there are no such credits or if the sum total of such costs exceeds the total of such credits, a detailed statement of the aforesaid costs and the amount so due shall be filed with the Municipal Tax Assessor or other custodian of the records of tax liens, and a copy thereof shall be forthwith forwarded to the owner by registered mail. If the total of the credits exceed such costs, the balance remaining shall be deposited with the Clerk of the Superior Court of New Jersey by the Director, 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 decree of such court; provided, however, that nothing in this section shall be construed to impair or limit in any way the power of the borough to define and declare nuisances and to cause their removal or abatement by summary proceedings or otherwise.
Complaints, notices and orders issued by the Director, pursuant to this chapter, shall be served upon persons either personally or by registered mail. If the whereabouts of such persons is unknown and the same cannot be ascertained by the Director in the exercise of reasonable diligence, and the Director shall make an affidavit to that effect, then the serving of such complaint, notice or order upon such person may be made by publishing the same once each week for two successive weeks in the newspaper printed and published in the county and circulating in the borough. A copy of such complaint, notice or order shall be posted in a conspicuous place on the premises affected by the complaint, notice or order. A copy of such complaint, notice or order shall be duly recorded or lodged for record with the County Clerk of Morris County.
In addition to the powers herein granted to the Director, he or she shall also have the following powers:
To investigate the building conditions in the borough in order to determine which buildings therein are unfit for human habitation or occupancy or use.
To administer oaths, affirmations, examine witnesses and receive evidence.
To enter upon premises for the purpose of making examinations, provided that such entries shall be made in such manner as to cause the least possible inconvenience to the persons in possession.
Any person aggrieved by an order issued by the Director may bring a court action pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.8.
Every building which shall have been damaged by fire or other cause so as to be dangerous by reason of the bad condition of walls, floors, construction or otherwise shall be held to be unsafe, and the Director, besides proceeding as hereinabove provided, shall also fix a notice of the dangerous character of the structure to a conspicuous place on the exterior of the building.
Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to abrogate or impair the powers of the courts or of any department to enforce any provisions of any character or its ordinances or regulations, nor to prohibit or punish violations thereof; and the powers conferred by this chapter shall be in addition and supplemental to the powers conferred by any other laws or ordinance.
[Amended 6-7-1999 by Ord. No. 15-99; 4-2-2007 by Ord. No. 3-07]
Any persons convicted of a violation of any of the provisions of this chapter by unlawfully removing any notice affixed to any building or refusing to vacate any building, structure or premises or part thereof when lawfully ordered to vacate the same shall be subject, upon conviction, to the penalties provided in § 1-15 of this Code.