TOMS RIVER – An ordinance passed at the most recent Township Council meeting will charge a property owner who abandoned their property and let it fall into disrepair.
Many municipalities have regulations regarding how to deal with derelict properties. Often, the code enforcement department is the first municipal group to issue warnings.
The aesthetics of the property is one part. A boarded up home looks terrible, and is sometimes full of weeds and litter. But the safety and security of the neighborhood is also important. According to the ordinance, abandoned structures are “magnets for illegal and nefarious activity; and are a detriment to the public health, safety, and welfare.”
The ordinance covers abandoned commercial property as well as residential. The property must be registered with the town. Registration costs $750. Renewing the registration costs $2,000. It then goes up to $3,000 for the second renewal. It costs $5,000 every renewal after that.
The property owner would also be subject to fines from violating township codes relating to maintenance.
The idea is to make it prohibitive for people to abandon their property, Councilman Maurice Hill said. It’s been years since Superstorm Sandy, which caused a lot of the abandoned property. Still others were basic foreclosures owned by banks.
“Some people have just walked away,” he said. This ordinance would make them try to take care of the property quickly.
If someone is actively working on their property, but they are being halted by a lawsuit or bureaucratic red tape, they can appeal this decision, Hill said.
Some property would be exempt from this, according to the ordinance. For example, if the property is in good shape and is just empty, and the owner is trying to find a new tenant or buyer, then it would not be considered abandoned.