Should Highlands Be Counting Abandoned Houses?

SeaDrifthouseAccording to the Jackson, NJ Council introduced an ordinance that allows local officials to force owners of abandoned homes to register their property. The 130 abandoned or vacant properties in Jackson aren’t necessarily from Sandy, they are mainly due to the downturn in the economy.

“People should not be living next to a home that’s been foreclosed upon where grass is 10 feet tall, there’s a health issue there,” stated Jackson Councilman Martin.

The concerns about abandoned properties include houses collapsing, vermin and potential fires caused by homeless people seeking shelter or vandals.

Apparently Howell, NJ also adopted a Real Property Mortgage Registration ordinance last August that requires mortgage holders to meet stricter maintenance and security standards.

By potentially adopting a similar ordinance, Highlands could more easily identify properties that are truly abandoned from properties where owners are in RREM flux and actually are planning on coming back.


  1. Yes we need to count abandoned homes and homes not in compliance to codes. But isn’t there an inventory of our current housing status already underway in Highlands in order to utilize the grant we applied for in order to demo homes? Council meetings stated a list of homes was on hand for that purpose. I wonder what the criteria was for the homes selected and if it’s going out to bid? It makes sense to have an ongoing inventory of abandoned homes, homes in foreclosure, homes for sale, homes that are in compliance to FEMA codes in a flood plain zone …. and homes that are not in compliance. How can Highlands recover and define a future vision without first identifying our post Sandy housing status? It ties into almost all of the action plans on our to do list. That data is also required for the Master Plan process (which we appropriated $100k of taxes for) so I hope some form of game plan for property code enforcement and zoning is in place – especially since our 2010 census data is obsolete and useless.


  2. I find it hard to believe that a town doesn’t have contact information for the home owner and/or the mortgage company.

    As for the housing statistics, if the borough doesn’t have the staff to get it done, will they accept volunteers? Cue the “confidentiality” excuse on this one….


  3. I know I’m commenting on an old post, but Jackson passed their ordinance. You can read it here:

    Highlands clarified the ordinance regarding repairs (town can make repairs & place a lien on the property) which is a step in the right direction *if* the town actually starts to repair code violations. What the Jackson ordinance seems to accomplish is that it gives a specific contact in cases of foreclosure. I would think that a little bit of up-front work in collecting the contact forms would pay off later when the town needs to call those responsible parties for problems.

    I would like to hear from Tim Hill as to whether this would be good for our town and if he disagrees, why?


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