Vacant and abandoned buildings in Jersey City, NJ fall under the jurisdiction of the Division of Housing Code Enforcement. They enforce the Vacant Buildings Registration Code for Jersey City. City-owned property falls under the jurisdiction of the Division of Real Estate. They are tasked with maintaining all city-owned property and conducting public auctions of city-owned, surplus real estate.
About the Properties
The Jersey City buildings, houses, and land found on Derelict.com are reported as vacant but may not be abandoned or city owned. This does not mean that the structures are not available for purchase. Oftentimes vacant properties are owned by absentee owners who are more than eager to sell.
Note: We highly recommend finding a good real estate lawyer to help you through the acquisition process.
Step 1 - Check Jersey City Site
Start with the following site and cross-check the property you found on Derelict.com. If you find the property there then it makes things much easier as it means the property is city-owned. Simply follow the instructions on the site and contact the Division of Real Estate. If you do not find your property on this site, proceed to Step 2.
Sale of City Owned Property - This site displays public notices of upcoming sales.
Step 2 - Identify the Property Owner
There are two places online that will help you find the owner of the property using just a street address. You should check them both.
New Jersey Association of County Tax Boards - This site will show you the current assessed value of the land and also give you information on the owner. Choose "Record Search" at the top and select "Hudson" for the county and "Jersey City" for the district. Under location enter the street number and street name without the street suffix such as Ave, Street, Blvd, etc. The search on this site is not very sophisticated and anything you search on must be an exact match. You can howver search on a partial street name such as "arli" instead of "arlington." You will need the block and lot number from this page for subsequent searches.
Hudson County Register - The Hudson County Register records the deeds for properties in Jersey City. Unfortunately they do not currently offer online record searching. If you have the owner's name from the tax records you do not need to get a copy of the deed.
This step is very important to help you get a better understanding of the property's history and potential issues before you approach the owner to see if they are willing to sell.
City of Jersey Online Property Taxes - Use the block number and lot number to see current and past taxes on the property. This will also show you if the owner listed has a lien (mortgage) on their property and who owns the lien. Any past due taxes will need to be settled if you become the new owner.
Jersey City Building Permit and Inspections - This site will give you an idea of any inspections or permits taken out on the property. It requires you to sign-up for an account.
New Jersey Courts Search Judgements and Liens - Use this site to find any judgements or liens against the property owner.
New Jersey Courts Civil Case Search - Find any past or present civil court cases involving the owner.
Division of Housing Code Enforcement - They enforce the Vacant Buildings Registration Code for Jersey City.
Step 4 - Contact the Owner
At this point you should have enough information to be able to contact the owner to see if they are willing to sell. If the contact information for the owner is old, you may need to do a little more digging to find them. Again, you might need a paid service like PublicData.com or PeopleFinders. There is also a possibility that the owner is deceased and their estate is probated. To find the will of the deceased and learn the name of the new owners you can use the following site:
Hudson County Surrogate - There is a $10 search fee.
If you've determined the owner is deceased and there was no will recorded, the process for acquiring the property becomes much more involved and can take years to complete. To acquire the property you would need to have the property escheated.