Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Vacant and Abandoned Houses

With the recent Passage of Ordinance 2014-11, Hillsborough is finally trying to control the abandoned houses that don't just look bad, but contribute to lower property values and attract unwanted visitors - both human and not.

The ordinance addresses "Vacant and Abandoned Residential Properties", establishing minimum standards for the maintenance, appearance, and condition of these houses.

The exterior should not be in disrepair, have out-of-service pools, have dead/rotting/diseased trees or loose or overhanging tree limbs, accumulated junk, litter or debris, accumulated hazardous, noxious, or unhealthy substances or materials, and not have landscaping in major disrepair.

There is a list of 15 conditions used to ascertain that a property falls under this ordinance.  These include overgrowth, accumulated papers/circulars/flyers, disconnected utilities, junk/litter/trash, absence of window treatments, broken windows, deterioration of the property, and boarded up entries. Three of them existing on an individual property may fulfill the ordinance's definition of an abandoned and vacant property.   

The ordinance also list maintenance standards for vacant and abandoned properties including uncut grass, exterior repair, loose parts that may fall, water entering the building, and broken gutters.

For more complete information, the entire ordinance may be read at the Township website under Introduced Ordinances 2014-11

If it appears that an empty house exists in Hillsborough that may meet these criteria, they may be reported to Health Officer Dr. Glen Belnay at the Hillsborough Municipal Building.

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