[HISTORY: Adopted by the Common Council of the City of Egg Harbor City 8-26-2004 by Ord. No. 14-2004. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The City of Egg Harbor City hereby declares and finds that there exist in the municipality dwellings which are unfit for human habitation due to dilapidation; defects increasing the hazards of fire, accidents or other calamities; lack of ventilation, light or sanitary facilities; or due to other conditions rendering such dwellings unsafe or unsanitary or dangerous or detrimental to the health or safety or otherwise inimical to the welfare of the residents of such municipality; and the City of Egg Harbor City desires to exercise the powers set forth in N.J.S.A. 40:48-1 et seq. in reference to the same.
The Administrator having charge of the Building Inspector be and he is hereby designated as the public officer to exercise the powers prescribed by this chapter.
Whenever a petition is filed with the public officer by a public authority or by at least five residents of the City of Egg Harbor City charging that any dwelling is unfit for human habitation or whenever it appears to the public officer, on his own motion, that any dwelling is unfit for human habitation, the public officer 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 public officer (or his designated agent) at a place therein fixed not less than 10 days nor more than 30 days after the serving of said complaint. 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 place and time fixed in the complaint, and the rules of evidence prevailing in the courts shall not be controlling in hearings before the public officer.
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 findings of fact in support of such determination and shall issue and cause to be served upon the owner thereof and parties in interest an order:
If the repair, alteration or improvement of said dwelling can be made at a cost not to exceed 10% of the value of the dwelling, requiring the owner to the extent and within the time specified in the order to repair, alter or improve said dwelling to render it fit for human habitation or, at the option of the owner, to vacate and close the dwelling as a human habitation; or
If the repair, alteration or improvement of said dwelling cannot be made at a cost not to exceed 10% of the value of the dwelling, requiring the owner within the time specified in the order to remove or demolish said dwelling.
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 dwelling, the public officer may cause such dwelling to be repaired, altered or improved, or to be vacated and closed. 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." It shall be unlawful for any person to own, have, keep, maintain or live in any building on which there has been posted a placard as herein provided for or to remove or cause the removal of any such posted placard.
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.
The amount of such cost of such repairs, alterations or improvements, or vacating and closing, or removal or demolition 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 New Jersey Superior Court by the public officer, shall be secured in such manner as may be directed by such Court and shall be disbursed according to the order or judgment to the persons found to be entitled thereto by final order or judgment of such Court; provided, however, that nothing in this section shall be construed to impair or limit in any way the power of the City of Egg Harbor City to define and declare nuisances and to cause their removal or abatement, by summary proceedings or otherwise.
Said public officer may determine that a building is unfit for human habitation if he finds that conditions exist in such dwelling which are dangerous or injurious to the health or safety of the occupants of such dwelling, the occupant of neighboring dwellings or other residents or the City of Egg Harbor City. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, such conditions may include the following: 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.
It shall be unlawful for any person to have, keep or maintain a dwelling that is unfit for human habitation or which is dangerous or injurious to the health or safety of the occupants of said dwelling or the occupants of neighboring dwellings or other residents or people of or in the City of Egg Harbor City, as specified in this section.
Any complaint or complaints, order or orders issued by said public officer pursuant to the provisions of this chapter shall be served upon persons either personally or by registered mail, but if the whereabouts of such person is unknown and the same 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 may be made by publishing the same once each week for two successive weeks in a newspaper printed and published in the City of Egg Harbor City or, in the absence of such newspaper, in one printed and published in the County of Atlantic and circulating in the City of Egg Harbor City. A copy of such complaint or order shall be posted 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 with the Clerk of the County of Atlantic.
Said public officer is hereby authorized to exercise such powers as may be necessary or convenient to carry out and effectuate the purposes and provisions of this chapter, including the following powers, in addition to the other powers herein granted:
To investigate the dwelling conditions in the City of Egg Harbor City in order to determine which dwellings therein are unfit for human habitation.
To administer oaths and 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.
To appoint and fix the duties of such officers, agents and employees as he deems necessary to carry out the purpose of this chapter. The officer, agent and employee to whom the powers and functions of the public officer have been delegated is hereby authorized to exercise the powers contained in Subsections A, B and C.
To delegate any of his functions and powers under this chapter to such officers and agents as he may designate.
Any repair, alteration, improvement, removal or demolition, as above provided, may be performed by the municipality, through its proper officials or employees, or the municipality may contract with any person to render such service on behalf of the municipality, under its control and direction and pursuant to specifications showing in detail the service to be rendered and to rules and regulations adopted by the governing body for the same, and upon ample security for proper performance being given to the municipality. The procedure to be followed in adopting any such contract shall be in accordance with N.J.S.A. 40:48-5. The municipality may recover the cost thereof from said owner by action at law, which action shall be in addition to any other remedy provided for by this chapter and shall not make void any lien upon real estate provided for by this chapter nor prevent the imposition of any penalty imposed for violation of this chapter or any ordinance of this municipality.
Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to abrogate or impair the powers of any department of the City of Egg Harbor City to enforce any provisions of its Administrative Code, ordinances or other regulations or statutes nor to prevent or punish violations thereof, and the powers conferred by this chapter shall be in addition and supplemental to the powers conferred by any other ordinance of the City of Egg Harbor City.
The following terms, whenever used or referred to in this chapter, shall have the following respective meanings for the purposes of this chapter, unless a different meaning clearly appears from the context:
- Any building or structure, or part thereof, used and occupied for human habitation or intended to be so used, and includes any outhouses and appurtenances belonging thereto or usually enjoyed therewith.
- GOVERNING BODY
- The Board of Commissioners of the City of Egg Harbor City charged with governing the municipality.
- The holder of the title in fee simple.
- PARTIES IN INTEREST
- All individuals, associations and corporations who have interests of record in a dwelling and any who are in possession thereof.
- PUBLIC AUTHORITY
- Any housing authority or any officer who is in charge of any department or branch of the government of the City of Egg Harbor City, County of Atlantic or State of New Jersey, relating to health, fire or building regulations or to other activities concerning dwellings in the City of Egg Harbor City.
- PUBLIC OFFICER
- The officer or officers who are authorized by this chapter to exercise the powers prescribed by this chapter.
Any person violating any of the provisions of this chapter declared to be unlawful shall, upon conviction in the Municipal Court of Egg Harbor City, be punished for each offense by a fine not to exceed $1,000 or by imprisonment for any term not exceeding 90 days in the county jail or in any place provided by the municipality for the detention of prisoners, or both. The Municipal Judge before whom any person is convicted of violating this chapter shall have the power to impose any fine or term of imprisonment not exceeding the maximum fixed in this chapter.