State code enforcement officers; written notice of code violation; fine; hearing; appeal
Section 3. (a) Notwithstanding the provisions of any general or special law to the contrary, any state code enforcement officer empowered to enforce violations of the state building code or state fire code may, as an alternative to initiating criminal proceedings, give to the offender a written notice of a code violation. The notice shall contain the name and address, if known, of the offender, the specific offense charged, and the time and place of the violation. The notice shall be signed by the state code enforcement officer and shall be signed by the offender whenever practicable in acknowledgement that such notice has been received. The state code enforcement officer shall, if possible, deliver to the offender a copy of the notice at the time and place of the violation. If it is not possible to deliver a copy of the notice to the offender at the time and place of the violation, the copy shall be mailed or delivered by the state code enforcement officer, or by the head of his department or by any person authorized by such department head, to the offender's last known address, within 15 days after the violation. The notice as so mailed shall be deemed sufficient notice, and a certificate of the person so mailing such notice that it has been mailed in accordance with this section shall be prima facie evidence thereof. The notice shall be executed in triplicate. Whoever, upon request of any state code enforcement officer, refuses to state his name and address, or if he states a false name and address, or a name and address which is not his name and address in ordinary use, shall be punished by a fine of not more than $200.
(b) The state code enforcement officer shall indicate on the notice of violation that the violation is either: (1) a written warning; or (2) a code violation. If the notice is for 1 or more code violations, the state code enforcement officer shall indicate on the notice the scheduled assessment for each violation alleged. If the notice of violation is for a continuing condition, the state code enforcement officer shall indicate that the condition must be corrected within 24 hours of receipt of such notice. Failure to correct the condition within 24 hours may serve as grounds for criminal prosecution pursuant to section 34C of chapter 148.
(c) If the notice is for 1 or more code violations, the alleged violator shall, within 21 days of the receipt of the notice either: (1) pay in full the scheduled assessment in accordance with the instructions on the notice of violation; or (2) request a hearing before a clerk magistrate of the housing court within the county in which the alleged violation occurred, by submitting the notice by mail, personally or by authorized person to the housing court. If the alleged violator requests a hearing before the clerk magistrate as prescribed, the clerk magistrate shall schedule a hearing not later than 45 days after receiving such hearing request. The clerk magistrate shall duly notify the alleged violator and the state code enforcement officer of the date, time and location of the hearing. The code enforcement officer who issued the notice of violation may appear personally at said hearing or may designate another person from his department or district to prosecute the case who is also empowered to enforce such building or fire code, as the case may be. Such hearing by the clerk magistrate shall be informal and the formal rules of evidence shall not apply.
(d) Any person aggrieved by a decision of the clerk magistrate, after a hearing, may appeal to a single justice of the housing court and shall be entitled to a hearing before a single justice of the court. The aggrieved person shall file such appeal within 10 days after receiving notice of the decision from the clerk magistrate who conducted the hearing. The decision of the single justice shall be final.
(e) Any person who has received a notice of violation issued in accordance with this section who, within the prescribed time fails to pay the scheduled assessment or fails to exercise his right to request a hearing before the clerk magistrate or who fails to appear at the time and place of the hearing, shall be deemed responsible for the code violations, as stated in the notice of violation and such finding of responsibility shall be considered prima facie evidence of a finding of responsibility for such code violation in any civil proceeding regarding the violation and shall be admissible as evidence in a subsequent criminal proceeding. If the condition which caused the notice of violation to issue continues, the finding of responsibility, accompanied by a sworn affidavit of the issuing state code enforcement officer relating the relevant details of the violation, may be used as prima facie evidence in any proceeding to suspend or revoke any license, permit or certificate issued by the city, town or the commonwealth, including the state fire marshal or the commissioner of public safety relative to the building, structure or premises pending the correction of the condition.