Pursuant to the provision of Chapter 21, P.L. 1946 (N.J.S.A. 40:49-5.1), the New Jersey State Housing Code as approved by the Departments of Health and Conservation and Economic Development and filed in the Secretary of State's Office, is accepted, adopted and established as a standard to be used as a guide in determining the fitness of a building for human habitation or occupancy or use. A copy of the New Jersey State Housing Code is annexed to this article and three copies of the same have been placed on file in the Office of the Town Clerk and are available to all persons desiring to use and examine the same.
Administrative authority. The Town Construction Official is designated as the administrative authority and the public officer to exercise the powers prescribed by this article, and he shall serve in such capacity without any additional salary.
Powers. The Construction Official is authorized and empowered to exercise such powers as may be necessary or convenient to carry out and effectuate the purposes and provisions of this article, including the following in addition to otherwise herein granted:
To investigate the dwelling conditions in the town in order to determine which dwellings therein are unfit for human habitation.
To administer oaths, affirmations, examine witnesses and receive evidence.
After obtaining appropriate court order so authorized to enter upon premises for the purpose of making examination, provided that such entries shall be made in such manner as to cause the least possible inconvenience to the persons in possession.
To appoint and fix the duties of such officers, agents and employees as he deems necessary to carry out the purposes of this article.
To delegate any of his functions and powers under this article to such officers and agents as he may designate.
For the purpose of this article, the Construction Official may determine that a dwelling is unfit for human habitation if he finds that conditions exist in such dwelling and/or on or about its premises which are dangerous or injurious to the health or safety of the occupants of such dwelling, the occupants of neighboring dwellings or other residents of the town. Such conditions may include the following (without limiting the generality of the foregoing): defects therein increasing the hazards of fire, accident, or other calamities; lack of adequate ventilation, light or sanitary facilities; dilapidation; disrepair, structural defects or uncleanliness.
Whenever a petition is filed with the Construction Official by a public authority as defined in N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.4, or by at least five residents of the municipality charging that any dwelling and/or its premises is unfit for human habitation as hereby defined, or whenever it appears to the Construction Official (on his own motion) that any dwelling and/or its premises is unfit for human habitation, as herein defined, he shall, if his preliminary investigation discloses a basis for such charges, 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 Construction Official (or his designated agent) at a place therein fixed not less than 10 days nor more than 30 days after the serving on the complaint; that the owner and parties in interest shall be given the right to file an answer to the complaint and to appear in person, or otherwise, and give testimony at the time and place fixed in the complaints; and that the rules of evidence prevailing in courts of law and equity shall not be controlling in hearings before the Construction Official.
If, after such notice and hearing, the Construction Official determines that the dwelling under consideration and/or its premises is unfit for human habitation as herein defined, he shall state in writing his findings of fact, and serve upon the owner thereof and parties in interest an order requiring:
The repair, alteration or improvement of the building and/or its premises to be made by the owner, within a reasonable time, which time shall be set forth in the order or at the option of the owner to vacate or to have the building and/or its premises 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 remove or demolish the building within a reasonable time as specified in the order of removal.
That, 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, and/or its premises, the Construction Official may cause such building and/or its premises to be repaired, altered or improved, or to be vacated and closed; that the Construction Official may 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 use; the use or occupation of this building is prohibited and is unlawful."
That, if the owner fails to comply with an order to remove or demolish the building, the Construction Official may cause such building to be removed or demolished or may contract for the removal or demolition thereof after advertisement for, and receipt of bids therefor.
If the owner or parties in interest appeal any such order of the Construction Official to a Court having jurisdiction, all action prescribed in the order so appealed shall not be taken until the final disposition of such appeal.
That the amount of:
The cost of the filing of legal papers, expert witnesses' fees, search fees and advertising charges, incurred in the course of any proceeding taken under this article determined in favor of the municipality; and
Such cost of such repairs, alterations or improvements, or vacating and closing, or removal or demolition, if any, or the amount of the balance thereof remaining after deduction of the sum if any, realized from the sale of materials derived from such building or from any contract for removal or demolition thereof, shall be a municipal lien against the real property upon which such cost was incurred. If the building is removed or demolished by the Construction Official, he shall sell the materials of such building. There shall be credited against the cost of the removal or demolition thereof 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 forwarded forthwith to the owner by registered mail. If the total of the credits exceed such costs, the balance remaining shall be deposited in the Superior Court by the Construction Official, shall be secured in such manner as may be directed by such Court and shall be disbursed according to the order or judgment of the Court to persons found to be entitled thereto by final order or judgment of such court; provided, however, that nothing in this subsection shall be construed to impair or limit in any way the power of the municipality to define and declare nuisances and to cause their removal or abatement, by summary proceedings or otherwise. Any owner or party in interest may, within 60 days from the date of the filing of the lien certificate, proceed in a summary manner in the Superior Court to contest the reasonableness of the amount or the accuracy of the costs set forth in the municipal lien certificate.
Complaints or orders issued by the Construction Official pursuant to this article shall be served upon persons either personally or by registered mail, but if the whereabouts of such persons is unknown and the same cannot be ascertained by the Construction Official in the exercise of reasonable diligence, and the Construction Official shall make an affidavit to that effect, then the serving of such complaint or order upon such persons may be made by publishing the same once each week for two successive weeks in a newspaper printed and published in the town. A copy of such complaint or order shall be posted in a conspicuous place on the premises affected by the complaint or order, and a copy of such complaint or order shall be duly recorded or lodged for record with the County Recording Officer of the county in which the dwelling is located.
Nothing in this article shall be construed to abrogate or impair the power of the town or any officer or department to enforce any provisions of its charter, or its ordinances or regulations, nor to prevent or punish violations thereof, and the powers conferred by this article shall be in addition and supplemental to the powers conferred upon the town by any other law or ordinance.
Section 12 of the New Jersey State Housing Code is supplemented to include the following: