NJ Borough initiates strict plan to remove blight from the city
Metuchen, NJ: Vacant property registration and a significant system of escalating fees and fine accruement are underway, to encourage business investment and eliminate unnecessary empty homes and storefronts.
The language agreed upon establishes a property as vacant after six months of being not legally occupied, or at which all lawful business or construction operations or residential or other occupancy have substantially ceased.
The owner of a property has 30 days after the property becomes vacant; or 30 days after assuming ownership of a vacant property or vacant storefront, whichever is later; or 10 days after receipt of notice by the municipality, where failure to actually receive the notice will not be acknowledged as an excuse for not knowing about the registration necessity; to register the property and pay a $500 fee.
If the property remains vacant for the year, the second year fee increases to $1,500. Year three increases the property fee to $3,000. Every year thereafter would have a recurring $5,000 fee.
To accommodate property owners actively making attempts to alleviate vacancy issues, a registration fee waiver system requires all of the following criteria be met:
- All local municipal fees are paid in full.
- A consistent good faith effort is shown to market, rent, sell, or lease the vacant property or storefront. Good faith efforts include but are not limited to contracts with realtors, newspaper, electronic advertisements, or other methods provided that the effort is actually likely to generate interest in the property and the owner is actually willing to rent, sell or lease and the pricing is consistent with other similar properties or portions thereof as attested by a real estate licensee as licensed by the NJ Real Estate Commission. The mere placement of a “for sale” or “for rent or lease” sign on or in the building in and of itself does not meet the requirements of this subsection.
- The Vacant Property or Storefront is in compliance with all Borough of Metuchen codes and ordinances.
Violation of any provision will face fines ranging from $100 to $2,000 for each violation. Each day a violation continues will generate a separate and additional violation. Additionally, fines assessed can be recovered from the owner via a lien on the property.
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