An initiative to rid the city of abandoned properties received preliminary approval from the city council early last week.
Council members voted on the abandoned properties ordinance on Tuesday giving preliminary approval to the administration’s plan to pursue neglectful property owners, lien holders, and mortgage companies through summary proceedings in the New Jersey Superior Court.
To defend against the court complaint, the property’s owner must submit a rehabilitation plan to the city’s designated officer, a construction code official, before the property is removed from the abandoned properties list.
The list presently has approximately 1,200 homes, according to city officials.
The property owner will be required to demonstrate he has the means to go through with the rehabilitation and submit updates on work being done at the property every three-month, according to the ordinance. The owner also may be required to post a 125-percent of rehabilitation cost bond with the city.
In cases where the owner abandons rehabilitation efforts, the city will take possession of the property and use the bond money to complete rehabilitation work. The property will either be auctioned off or handed over to an agency to complete rehabilitation work.
Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres stated that after the city obtains ownership over a property it will send in an inspector to estimate the cost of rehabilitation work needed at the property. If the work needed exceeds the property’s worth or if the property is in such a state as to be deemed irreparable, the city will have little option but to demolish.
If the property is deemed repairable the inspector will estimate a repair cost and the city will ultimately auction off properties at a discount rate. Torres stated that properties that require much treasure to repair will be auctioned off at cheaper prices while those that require less repair cost will be auctioned at higher prices.
Torres is hoping, with the power granted to the administration through this ordinance, he will be able bring the abandoned properties problem under control.