55:19-55 Identification of abandoned property, listing.
36. a. A qualified municipality that has designated or appointed a public officer pursuant to section 3 of P.L.1942, c.112 (C.40:48-2.5), may adopt an ordinance directing the public officer to identify abandoned property for the purpose of establishing an abandoned property list throughout the municipality, or within those parts of the municipality as the governing body may designate. Each item of abandoned property so identified shall include the tax block and lot number, the name of the owner of record, if known, and the street address of the lot.
b.In those municipalities in which abandoned properties have been identified in accordance with subsection a. of this section, the public officer shall establish and maintain a list of abandoned property, to be known as the "abandoned property list." The municipality may add properties to the abandoned property list at any time, and may delete properties at any time when the public officer finds that the property no longer meets the definition of an abandoned property. An interested party may request that a property be included on the abandoned property list following that procedure set forth in section 31 of P.L.2003, c.210 (C.55:19-105).
An abandoned property shall not be included on the abandoned property list if rehabilitation is being performed in a timely manner, as evidenced by building permits issued and diligent pursuit of rehabilitation work authorized by those permits. A property on which an entity other than the municipality has purchased or taken assignment from the municipality of a tax sale certificate which has been placed on the abandoned property list may be removed in accordance with the provisions of section 29 of P.L.2003, c.210 (C.55:19-103).
c.The Department of Community Affairs in conjunction with the Department of Environmental Protection shall prepare an information bulletin for distribution to every municipality describing the authority of a municipality under existing statutes and regulations to repair, demolish or otherwise deal with abandoned property.
d. (1) The public officer shall establish the abandoned property list or any additions thereto by publication in the official newspaper of the municipality, which publication shall constitute public notice and, within 10 days after publication, shall send a notice, by certified mail, return receipt requested, and by regular mail, to the owner of record of every property included on the list. The published and mailed notices shall identify property determined to be abandoned setting forth the owner of record, if known, the tax lot and block number and street address. The public officer, in consultation with the tax collector, shall also send out a notice by regular mail to any mortgagee, servicing organization, or property tax processing organization that receives a duplicate copy of the tax bill pursuant to subsection d. of R.S.54:4-64. When the owner of record is not known for a particular property and cannot be ascertained by the exercise of reasonable diligence by the tax collector, notice shall not be mailed but instead shall be posted on the property in the manner as provided in section 5 of P.L.1942, c.112 (C.40:48-2.7). The mailed notice shall indicate the factual basis for the public officer's finding that the property is abandoned property as that term is defined in section 35 of P.L.1996, c.62 (C.55:19-54) and the rules and regulations promulgated thereunder, specifying the information relied upon in making such finding. In all cases a copy of the mailed or posted notice shall also be filed by the public officer in the office of the county clerk or register of deeds and mortgages, as the case may be, of the county wherein the property is situate. This filing shall have the same force and effect as a notice of lis pendens under N.J.S.2A:15-6. The notice shall be indexed by the name of the property owner as defendant and the name of the municipality as plaintiff, as though an action had been commenced by the municipality against the owner.
(2)The authority or its subsidiaries, as appropriate, may reimburse the municipality for the postage costs and search fees associated with providing notice in accordance with paragraph (1) of this subsection in accordance with procedures and rules promulgated by the Department of Community Affairs.
(3)The public officer, within ten days of the establishment of the abandoned property list, or any additions thereto, shall send by regular mail, facsimile or electronic mail, a copy of the abandoned property list to the electric and gas utilities serving the municipality.
e.An owner or lienholder may challenge the inclusion of his property on the abandoned property list determined pursuant to subsection b. of this section by appealing that determination to the public officer within 30 days of the owner's receipt of the certified notice or 40 days from the date upon which the notice was sent. An owner whose identity was not known to the public officer shall have 40 days from the date upon which notice was published or posted, whichever is later, to challenge the inclusion of a property on the abandoned property list. For good cause shown, the public officer shall accept a late filing of an appeal. Within 30 days of receipt of a request for an appeal of the findings contained in the notice pursuant to subsection d. of this section, the public officer shall schedule a hearing for redetermination of the matter. Any property included on the list shall be presumed to be abandoned property unless the owner, through the submission of an affidavit or certification by the property owner averring that the property is not abandoned and stating the reasons for such averment, can demonstrate that the property was erroneously included on the list. The affidavit or certification shall be accompanied by supporting documentation, such as but not limited to photographs, repair invoices, bills and construction contracts. The sole ground for appeal shall be that the property in question is not abandoned property as that term is defined in section 35 of P.L.1996, c.62 (C.55:19-54). The public officer shall decide any timely filed appeal within 10 days of the hearing on the appeal and shall promptly, by certified mail, return receipt requested, and by regular mail, notify the property owner of the decision and the reasons therefor.
f.The property owner may challenge an adverse determination of an appeal with the public officer pursuant to subsection e. of this section, by instituting, in accordance with the New Jersey Court Rules, a summary proceeding in the Superior Court, Law Division, sitting in the county in which the property is located, which action shall be tried de novo. Such action shall be instituted within 20 days of the date of the notice of decision mailed by the public officer pursuant to subsection e. of this section. The sole ground for appeal shall be that the property in question is not abandoned property as that term is defined in section 35 of P.L.1996, c.62 (C.55:19-54). The failure to institute an action of appeal on a timely basis shall constitute a jurisdictional bar to challenging the adverse determination, except that, for good cause shown, the court may extend the deadline for instituting the action.
g.The public officer shall promptly remove any property from the abandoned property list that has been determined not to be abandoned on appeal.
h.The abandoned property list shall become effective, and the municipality shall have the right to pursue any legal remedy with respect to properties on the abandoned property list at such time as any one property has been placed on the list in accordance with the provisions of this section, upon the expiration of the period for appeal with respect to that property or upon the denial of an appeal brought by the property owner.
L.1996,c.62,s.36; amended 2003, c.210, s.28; 2005, c.118, s.1; 2006,c.24,s.4.
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Last modified: October 11, 2016