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Rental licenses in small town America

Crowd attends rental hearing

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Posted: Wednesday, May 1, 2013 5:43 pm

 

GARY P. KLINGER Record Express Correspondent

Staff Writer

 

It was standing room only in Lititz Borough Council chambers Tuesday evening for the hearing on a new rental inspection ordinance.

Council is considering the borough’s first ordinance of this kind which, if enacted, would require landlords to license each residential rental once a year and inspect every third year. A hearing is required by law before council can vote to approve such an ordinance.

 

Tuesday evening’s hearing was open to all Lititz residents to attend and provide feedback to council. As explained by council president Karen Weibel, it was not a format for debate or back-and-forth dialogue but simply a means of council gauging public support. Homeowners, landlords and tenants were invited to attend and to speak.

“Tonight’s hearing is not a venue for long questions or answers or dialogue,” said Weibel. “Please call the borough and ask for an appointment with staff to go over this and better explain the proposed ordinance. Council will take no action on this proposal this evening.”

The proposed ordinance calls for an annual licensing fee of $40 per rental unit. Inspection of Residential Rental Units would cost $50 every other year. Under the schedule of fees, unit re-inspection would cost $35, no-show inspection fee would be $50 and the inspection appeal fee would be $500. A fine of $500 would be levied for allowing occupancy after a license has been revoked with each month considered a separate violation. A $500 fine would also be levied for failure to obtain a rental license within 30 days of a notice of violation. And a $1,000 fine could be issued for violations or any other provisions of the ordinance.

The nine-page draft ordinance lays out four basic reasons for borough consideration of the matter at this time.

“There is a greater incident of problems with the maintenance and upkeep of residential properties which are not owner-occupied as compared to those that are owner-occupied,” the draft stated. “The borough is concerned with the condition of a property when EMS responds, and for the safety of the EMS responders and general safety of the tenants. The borough is unaware of the exact number of tenant-occupied residences, with knowledge of such used for the accountability and safety of the tenants and landlords. Borough records indicate there are a greater number of disturbances at residential rental units than at owner-occupied units.”

Council member Todd Fulginiti, who had been very active in the process of drafting the new ordinance, addressed the group prior to receiving testimony.

“With nearly 40 percent of borough citizens living in rented housing, the borough believes it will be beneficial to the community to institute a rental inspection program,” stated Fulginiti. “A committee was formed to investigate this issue and was later assigned the task of drafting the ordinance we are discussing tonight. Business and industries that provide for basic human needs are often regulated by government guidelines that aim to insure the health and safety of consumers. Examples of this include the food and health care industries.”

Read More: http://lancasteronline.com/news/crowd-attends-rental-hearing/article_327f37bc-9264-5a81-884b-d571eb60eb88.html

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