Owners Must Register Vacant Buildings or Face Fines in New Brunswick

Stock photo Credits: Wikimedia Commons

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — Abandoned, decrepit buildings in the city are about to cost their owners more money.

Effective June 1, people who own vacant properties—any building that’s not legally occupied or on the market, and can’t be without repairs—must register the sites with New Brunswick. Along with their contact information and those of any maintenance worker, the registration form mandates a $1,000 fee, which will rise if the property remains abandoned.

“It’s essentially to go after a lot of the foreclosed properties that are bank-owned and don’t even have absentee landlords,” Glenn Patterson, the city’s planning and development director, said this month. “This is a way to try to get those properties maintained so they don’t deteriorate the rest of the neighborhood and harm the other people who are living in that neighborhood.”

Sign Up for E-News

The New Brunswick City Council adopted the ordinance earlier this month, with the support of a handful of statewide and city-based organizations. It’s the first of its kind in the Hub City, but a dozen or so other New Jersey municipalities have enshrined similar laws.

The act complements an ordinance adopted in February 2016 by the council, which gave the city the right to repossess abandoned downtrodden properties abandoned by their owners. That measure has reportedly yielded no results.

But the most recent move is set to give the city teeth. It calls for the hiring of a municipal officer to manage the registration list and oversee related activities and violations—a position at least one activist said is necessary.

City Attorney T.K. Shamy said during the meeting that several people were interviewed earlier this month for the job. A city spokesperson didn't immediately respond to a request from TAPinto New Brunswick on the progress of the search.

The new ordinance will require owners or their designees to register buildings within 60 days of becoming vacant, 30 days after buying the property or 10 days of receiving notice from the city, according to the document.

Any building left empty prior to June must be registered by June 30, 2017.

The initial registration fee runs $1,000, according to the ordinance. The price jumps to $2,000 for the second year and $3,000 for every subsequent year.

“Some ordinances adopted in other municipalities are much higher with respect to the fees,” Shamy said. “Our proposed ordinance is probably in the middle of the road.”

At least 80 percent of the money made through this ordinance must be used to fight the impacts of abandoned properties, according to the ordinance.

Owners must also take out liability insurance policies for properties on the list. Buildings with fewer than four residential units must be insured at a minimum of $300,000. All others must be covered for at least $1 million, according to the ordinance.

After they register their properties, an owner must allow access to New Brunswick workers for inspections. What’s more, they must secure the building, clean the grounds and post a sign with information that neighbors may call to lodge complaints.

Out-of-state banks must also appoint a New Jersey resident to take care of vacant properties in the city, according to the ordinance.

If an owner plans to fix the building within the year following the registration, that person can file a “detailed statement” on the plans and potentially dodge paying the fee. But if the property remains vacant, the owner will need to pay up.

A designated redeveloper may apply for a fee exemption if plans for the property meet the city’s goals and regulations, but an obstacle, such as financing or market conditions, has slowed development, according to the ordinance.

Violations for various parts of the ordinance range from $500 to $2,500 per day.

Several people praised the move during the council meeting, saying it will make New Brunswick a better place to live while tackling lingering issues from the foreclosure crisis.

“These ordinances really do benefit the community,” said Jeff Crum, who spoke on behalf of the nonprofit housing group New Jersey Community Capital but also heads the city Planning Board.

Teresa Vivar, a local community and housing activist, said she has long anticipated the hiring of the municipal officer, who she hopes will help her boost New Brunswick’s housing stock.

As of early this month, New Brunswick officials didn’t know exactly how many houses would qualify for the registration list. But Shamy said he expects dozens to fit the bill.

The city spends a good deal of money on police and fire calls and code inspections at abandoned properties, according to the ordinance. The new regulations are meant, in part, to cut down on that burden.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

New Brunswick

The Jaffe Briefing - May 23, 2018

The Jaffe Briefing will not publish from Thursday through Monday. A great Memorial Day to all!


SEASIDE HEIGHTS - Sex can be an almost-religious experience, but it seems a bit excessive to copulate under a statue of the Virgin Mary in a Catholic church's outdoor prayer garden. Yet, that's where ...

The Jaffe Briefing - May 22, 2018

The Jaffe Briefing will not publish from Thursday through Monday. A great Memorial Day to all!

MANVILLE - If marijuana becomes legal in New Jersey, here's another town where you won't be able to buy it: Manville. The mayor and council unanimously voted to prohibit any sale of weed - recreational and medicinal - within Manville's borders. The ...

The Jaffe Briefing - May 21, 2018

The Jaffe Briefing will not publish from Thursday through Monday. A great Memorial Day to all!

STATEWIDE - Should public school students be allowed to attend schools in other towns? That's the big, controversial question in a lawsuit filed against the state that looks to end what some consider to be the worst school segregation in the nation. The ...

The Jaffe Briefing - May 18, 2018


IN COURT - Sounds like a cheesy thing to do, but the NJ Turnpike Authority has gone to court for years trying to stop a pizzeria chain whose logo is suspiciously similar to our beloved Garden State Parkway sign. Sure, nobody wants drivers searching for an on-ramp to end ...

The Jaffe Briefing - May 17, 2018


MOUNTAINSIDE - Oh, where to begin describing this 46-page lawsuit against two Mountainside cops? A detective sergeant placing his testicles on co-workers' food. And throwing poop-smeared toilet tissue at them. And defecating in someone's boots. And taunting with a dildo dubbed "Big Blue" he liked to wave in cops' faces, as he chased ...

The Jaffe Briefing - May 16, 2018


ATLANTIC CITY - Happy days are here again, as the state's once gasping gaming resort is expecting sports betting will rake in $150 million to $175 million a year in new, glorious profits - courtesy of your pals on the U.S. Supreme Court. Moreover, ecstatic Stockton University officials believe, this recharged gambling mecca will bring in a whole new ...

Rutgers Athletics Signs Dyehard Fan Supply to New Multi-Year Agreement

May 21, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ -  Rutgers Athletics has selected Dyehard Fan Supply, an event and retail merchandise marketing and e-commerce company, as the official merchandising partner for the Scarlet Knights in a new multi-year agreement.Dyehard will handle game day and event merchandising for Rutgers Athletics.

“We’re excited to expand gameday merchandising options and elevate ...

Newark man given 22-year sentence for kidnapping, sexual asault of Rutgers student

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - A Newark man was sentenced Friday to 22 years in prison for the 2016 kidnapping and sexual assault of a Rutgers University student on the school campus in New Brunswick.

Michael Knight, 40, of Newark must serve at least 85 percent of his sentence before he is eligible for parole, Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey said in a statement today.

Superior Court Judge ...

Rutgers center battles noise pollution nationwide

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ  - Eric Zwerling got a call this week from a man was living next to a fitness center, complaining he repeatedly heard the loud thud heavy free weights and medicine balls hit the floor.

The man was recovering from having a pace maker in his chest and wondering of the impact of the noise from the gym.

“I’ve received thousands of calls,” said Zwerling, ...

Police Investigate Rabbit "Tale"

May 11, 2018

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Local cops are investigating an incident of ‘theft by deception’ involving the Plainfield Animal Hospital. 

According to the incident report filed by Officer Justin Melanson and obtained by TAPinto, residents of South Plainfield took their pet rabbit to the Park Avenue animal hospital on April 4 to be euthanized due to advanced ...


Here's How to Help Protect Young Athletes from Injury: Let Them Play Multiple Sports

May 1, 2018

Dear TAPInto New Brunswick:

One of the responsibilities that parents take most seriously is protecting their children from injury, whether it is buckling seat belts in a car or wearing a helmet while riding a bike. And when their kids become teenagers and want to participate in sports or other activities, parents do everything they can to keep their sons and daughters from getting ...

Department of Human Services Awards Teens for Creativity in Celebrating Their Family Tree

May 24, 2018

(TRENTON) - The New Jersey Department of Human Services on Wednesday honored 12 New Jersey high school and middle school students for their winning entries in the 2018 New Jersey Teen Media Contest, which celebrated the students’ artistic and written word portrayal of how their family tree may look.

The contest hosted by the department’s Division of Family Development focused on ...