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(A) Notice. Upon observing the continued existence of a violation of this chapter as stated in a violation notice, the city’s Ordinance Enforcement Officer shall serve a final notice to repair on the responsible party. The notice shall:
(1) Specify the date of inspection and the address where the violation was found;
(2) Have attached a true copy of the violation notice;
(3) Include a description and location of each violation observed by the city’s Ordinance Enforcement Officer;
(4) Order the responsible party to correct all listed violations by a specified date;
(5) State that each violation is a separate punishable offense;
(6) State that a re-inspection will be made to determine whether all violations have been corrected by the specified date;
(7) Advise the responsible party of applicable re-inspection fees charged by the city;
(8) State that failure to comply with the final notice to repair will result in prosecution; and
(9) Inform the responsible party of the right of appeal before the Board of Appeals (City Council).
(B) Change of ownership. The city’s Ordinance Enforcement Officer shall immediately issue a new violation notice or a final notice to repair, as the case may be, to any new person or persons assuming occupancy, ownership or the status of agent for any rental unit which has been cited for violations. The responsible party who has failed to comply with a violation notice and/or final notice to repair shall not be relieved of the responsibility of having violated any provision of this chapter by transferring ownership or occupancy.
(C) Time to correct violations. All violation notices shall provide a specified time period to correct the violation(s) in relation to the seriousness of the violation(s). The following time limits shall apply:
(1) Not more than 24 hours for an emergency violation.
(2) Not more than ten days for removing domestic refuse; to provide adequate heat or water; or to correct hazardous conditions.
(3) Not less than 30 days nor more than 60 days for all other violations.
(4) Violation notices issued between October 31 and April 1 for exterior painting, or for any other exterior work adversely affected by cold or snow, shall provide additional time for completion of such work, but in no case longer than June 30.
(5) The city’s Ordinance Enforcement Officer may extend the time period for correction of violations if:
(a) There are extending circumstances.
(b) The responsible party has made a substantial and documented effort to correct violations within the time allotted. In no event shall the city’s Ordinance Enforcement Officer grant an extension for more than double the time period allowed in the original violation notice. All extensions shall be in writing and served on the responsible party in the same manner as the violation notice.
(6) Not more than one extension shall be granted by the city’s Ordinance Enforcement Officer. Further extensions, if any, may be granted only by the City Council/Board of Appeals for good cause shown.
(D) Recurrent violations. A responsible party who violates any provision of this chapter in or about the same rental unit(s) in the same structure three or more times in any consecutive 12 month period, or who does not correct a cited violation within 30 days after being convicted of or found responsible for violating a provision of this chapter, shall be presumed to be a willful violator of the provisions of this chapter and to be causing undue expense to the city in the administration of this chapter. In such cases:
(1) The city’s Ordinance Enforcement Officer shall issue a final notice to repair after determining that a violation still or again exists.
(2) The city’s Ordinance Enforcement Officer shall specify the shortest time period permitted by this chapter for the correction of any existing or further violation.
(3) All inspections and/or re-inspection fees then in effect shall be doubled.
(4) The city’s Ordinance Enforcement Officer may revoke the responsible owner’s license to maintain a rental unit(s) and/or order all occupants of such rental unit(s) to vacate the premises.
(E) Prosecution. Upon failure of a responsible party to comply with a final notice to repair, the city’s Ordinance Enforcement Officer may refer the matter to the City Attorney for prosecution, or the city’s Ordinance Enforcement Officer may issue a court appearance ticket for such violation(s).
(F) Prosecution not delayed. Nothing in this section shall delay or be a cause of terminating the prosecution of a defendant for failure to correct violations of this chapter noted in a final notice to repair or an emergency.
(G) Court orders, penalties and fees.
(1) Violations. A person maintaining a structure, contrary to this chapter, shall be charged with maintaining a structure in violation of this chapter. The complaint or appearance ticket may include one or more violations any of which may individually constitute the maintenance of a nuisance.
(2) Penalties and sentencing. The penalty for violation of this chapter shall be as indicated in this subsection. Any fine or jail sentence imposed by the court shall reflect the seriousness of each offense as well as the violator’s previous history of recurrent violations of the provisions of this chapter. Each day shall be deemed a separate offense. The city’s Ordinance Enforcement Officer may issue a separate appearance for violation of any provision of this chapter; the court shall sentence the defendant to pay a fine of up to $500 or up to 90 days in jail or both. The court may, in addition to such fine and/or such imprisonment, place the defendant on probation for any period of time and subject to any conditions permitted by state law. The court may also, in appropriate causes, suspend all or part of any fine or term of imprisonment imposed on such terms and conditions as the court deems appropriate. The court shall exercise its authority to sentence the defendant to a term or probation and to prescribe the conditions therefore and shall exercise its power to suspend all or part of any fine or term of imprisonment so as to bring about compliance with the terms of the chapter and to prevent further violations.
(3) City costs. Upon conviction for violations of any provisions of this chapter, the court may, as a condition of probation if a term of probation is all or a part of the defendant’s sentence, order the defendant to reimburse the city for all of the costs of enforcement of this chapter attributable to the violations for which the defendant was convicted, including, but not limited to, the costs of inspection, prosecution and administration. If such a condition is not imposed, the city many file a civil action against the defendant and may upon proof of the defendant’s conviction recover all of the costs referred to above. If the defendant is the owner of rental property in the city, such costs may also be assessed by lien against the property of the defendant until paid.
(H) Civil remedies for violation.
(1) Action in District Court.
(a) In case any dwelling or rental unit is maintained in violation of any provision of this chapter or of any order or notice given, or in case a nuisance exists in any dwelling or upon the lot on which it is situated, or within an accessory structure, the city, by and through the city’s Ordinance Enforcement Officer, may institute an action in the Branch County District Court to prevent such unlawful maintenance; to restrain, correct or abate such violation or nuisance; to prevent the occupant of such dwelling, building, or structure; or to prevent any illegal act of conduct from existing in such dwelling or lot.
(b) The procedure for such action shall be the same as for an injunction or abatement of a nuisance under District Court rules, the statutes as provided for in common law.
(c) The judgment of the court in such cause may direct the correction, repair or rehabilitation of the dwelling or building, or the abatement of the nuisance; may authorize a reasonable time within which the defendant may make such correction or abatement; and may authorize the city to execute and carry out the provisions of the judgment in case of default of the defendant.
(d) Whenever the city has incurred any expense in the enforcement of this chapter or the judgment of the court, the city may institute and maintain a suit against the owner of the premises in respect to which such expense that have been incurred and may recover the amount of such expense in addition to the costs of suit.
(e) The judgment of the court may order the vacation of the premises until the corrections, rehabilitations, or abatements are completed.
(2) Lien on premises. In appropriate cases, the city shall have lien upon the premises for the expenses necessarily incurred in the execution of such judgment, which lien shall have priority over all other liens or encumbrances except taxes, assessments or mortgages recorded previous to the existence of such lien. Such lien may be foreclosed, as in the case of foreclosure of mortgages by court action, as established by the District Court rules and the statutes of the state in such cases made and provided.
(3) Lis pendens notice. In any action instituted by the city under this subsection, the City Attorney shall file in the Office of the Register of Deeds of the County a notice of the pendency of the action or proceedings, A notice may be filed at the time of the commencement of the action or proceeding, or at any time before final judgment or order, or at any time after the service of any notice or order issued by the city. The notice shall have the same force and effect as a lis pendens, as provided for in the statutes of the state. The Register of Deeds shall record it and shall index it to the name of each person specified in directions prescribed by the City Attorney. Any notice may be vacated upon the order of the judge of the court in which the action or proceeding was instituted or is pending, or upon consent in writing of the City Attorney. The Register of Deeds for the County shall mark the notice and any record as canceled of record upon the presentation for filing of consent or of a certified copy of the order.
(4) Municipal civil infraction. In addition to any other penalty for violation of this chapter, a person who violates any provision of this chapter is responsible for a municipal civil infraction, subject to the payment of a civil fine of not less than $50 plus costs and other sanctions for each infraction. Repeat offenses under this chapter shall be subject to increased fines as provided in this Code, as amended.
(Ord. 206, passed 7-9-2018; Ord. 207, passed 8-13-2018)