[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Town Council of the Borough of Chambersburg as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Article I Residential Rental Unit Inspections
[Adopted 3-12-2002 by Ord. No. 2002-3]
Whereas the Borough has determined that dwelling units not occupied by the property owner are frequently maintained at a standard significantly less than owner-occupied dwelling units and that such failure to maintain those units can and frequently does result in dwelling units which are unsafe, unsanitary and, in many instances, not maintained to the minimum standards required by the various fire prevention, building, housing, property maintenance, electrical and plumbing codes in effect in the Borough of Chambersburg from time to time, the Borough of Chambersburg finds it to be desirable and in the public interest to enact the following ordinance providing for the regular and systematic inspection of these properties to insure their continued compliance with applicable Borough codes.
This article shall be known and may be cited as the "Borough of Chambersburg Residential Rental Unit Inspection Ordinance."
In the event any provision of this article is inconsistent with the provisions of any other Code in effect in the Borough of Chambersburg, the ordinance provision applying the more strict standard shall apply.
As used in this article, the following words shall have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
- The Fire Prevention, Building, Property Maintenance, Electrical, and Plumbing Codes, as adopted by the Borough from time to time, and any rules and regulations promulgated thereunder.
- EXTERIOR AREA
- The outside facade of a building, including but not limited to any porch, yard, lawn, landscaping, sidewalks, setbacks, curbs, and all open area contiguous to a building owned by the same person or persons or part of the same real estate parcel.
- Any person, agent, operator, firm, corporation, partnership, association, property management group, or fiduciary having legal, equitable or other interest in any real property; or recorded in the official records of the state, county or municipality as holding title to the property; or otherwise having control of the property, including the guardian of the estate of any such person and the executor or administrator of such person's estate. When used in this article in a clause proscribing any activity or imposing a penalty, the term, as applied to partnerships and associations, shall mean each partner, and as applied to corporations, the officers thereof.
- QUALIFIED RESIDENTIAL RENTAL UNIT
- A residential rental unit which has met the inspection requirements of this article and for which the annual fee has been paid.
- RESIDENTIAL RENTAL UNIT
- A dwelling unit not occupied by the owner thereof. There shall be excluded from this definition those dwelling units subject to a periodic inspection by a state or federal agency at least once every three years applying a standard substantially the same as or more thorough than the Borough codes referenced in the definition of "codes" above.
Except as provided following in this section, it shall be unlawful to occupy or let to others for occupancy any residential rental unit which has not been currently inspected as provided by this article. The foregoing notwithstanding, during the initial phase-in period of the inspection program contemplated hereby, no property shall be considered out of compliance with the inspection requirements of this article until after the initial property inspection hereunder. This notwithstanding, payment of the annual inspection fee shall be required if the property is to be rented for residential purposes. Except as provided in Subsection D following, the requirements for periodic inspections shall be as follows:
Each residential rental unit shall be inspected by the Property Maintenance Code Officer or other designee of the Borough at least one time in every thirty-six-month period; and for such purpose and for any reinspection required hereunder, the owner shall provide access to Borough representatives. A unit where inspection access is denied may not be a qualified residential unit until inspection access is provided.
This inspection shall include the exterior and interior of the premises being inspected.
For the purpose of enforcing this article, the Property Maintenance Code Officer or designee of the Borough may seek to obtain a search warrant issued by a competent authority in accordance with applicable legal standards for the purpose of compelling an inspection of a residential rental unit. The refusal to provide inspection access does not limit the Borough to the remedy that the unit is determined not to be a qualified residential unit, but the Borough may also seek a search warrant.
The foregoing notwithstanding, if the building containing the residential rental unit in question has received a certificate of occupancy for new construction under any other Borough code, the owner of said building shall not be required to schedule an inspection of such new construction pursuant to this article until the expiration of 36 months from the date of the issuance of said certificate of occupancy.
If the owner of a residential rental unit can present to the Borough Property Maintenance Code Officer a certificate certifying that a particular residential rental unit has been inspected by a federal or a state authority pursuant to a maintenance standard equivalent to or more strict than the International Property Maintenance Code or any successor thereto which from time to time is in effect in the Borough of Chambersburg, and pursuant to said inspection found to be in compliance, the owner of said building shall not be required to schedule an inspection under the terms of this article until the expiration of 36 months from the date of the issuance of the state or federal certificate of compliance. If as a result of the state or federal inspection deficiencies were determined, there shall be no waiver of the inspection requirements under this article unless the property owner can also provide to the Borough Property Maintenance Code Officer a certificate evidencing resolution of the deficiency sufficient to obtain a certificate of compliance.
Any owner shall have the right to employ an independent inspector certified as a qualified inspector under the International Property Maintenance Code, and as to any residential rental unit inspected and certified as being in compliance by said inspector, the owner of said building shall not be required to schedule an inspection under the terms of this article until the expiration of 36 months from the date of the issuance of the certificate of compliance based on said inspection. In this context, the Borough shall maintain a list of inspectors which it recognizes as being properly certified to perform inspections under the International Property Maintenance Code and any independent inspector employed by an owner must be from said list.
When an inspection is performed by an independent inspector, a copy of the inspection report must be provided to the Borough Property Maintenance Code Officer within 48 hours of the date of inspection. Where violations or code deficiencies are noted in the independent inspector report, the independent inspector must provide a follow-up inspection to verify resolution of those deficiencies and must provide the Borough Property Maintenance Code officer a copy of the inspection report following the follow-up inspection to verify the status of corrections. The follow-up inspection must be prompt and within a reasonable time from the date of the original inspection. No inspection shall be recognized as having been completed under this section until a certificate of compliance is issued.
The Borough reserves the right to remove from the list of qualified inspectors any inspector determined by the Borough not to be conducting inspections in accord with the standards established by the International Property Maintenance Code or who fails to conduct the required reinspections on properties in which deficiencies have been noted or who fails to provide copies of all inspection reports in accord with the provisions of this subsection.
For any inspection pursuant to Subsections E and F above, the Borough reserves the right to inspect any premises to verify the quality of any independent or government agency inspection. No fee will be charged for this inspection, but appropriate fees may be charged for reinspections if violations are found.
The individual residential rental unit inspections required by this article shall only be applicable to any hotel or motel facility which advertises a weekly or monthly rate and which has a substantial occupancy by persons on a weekly or monthly basis. No inspection under this article shall be made of hotels or motels principally providing overnight lodging only.
Designation of local agent. Every owner who is not a full-time resident of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or is out of the state for a continuous period in excess of 30 days or more shall appoint a local agent who is a full-time resident of Pennsylvania or maintains a permanent full-time office within Pennsylvania. The appointment shall be on a form to be provided by the Borough. The local agent shall be the agent of the owner, with access to and supervision of residential rental units located within the Borough and authorized to be contacted by the Borough or tenant in case of emergency, and shall be the agent of the owner for purposes of service of process and receiving of notices and demands, as well as scheduling or assisting in the scheduling required inspections and receiving a copy of inspection reports. The identity, business address and telephone of the person so appointed shall be provided by the owner to the Borough and the tenant. Such information shall be kept current and updated in the event of changes in identity or contact information.
[Added 5-23-2016 by Ord. No. 2016-05]
The Borough will issue a certificate of compliance with this article upon the occurrence of the following Subsections A through D. Issuance of a certificate of compliance shall represent compliance with the inspection requirements of this article but shall not denote compliance with any other applicable code nor any standard of safety. A certificate of compliance will issue:
If, upon inspection of the residential rental unit, the inspecting officer does not note any violations of the codes referenced in the definition of "codes" above;
If, upon inspection of the residential rental unit, violations were noted upon subsequent inspection if the violations noted have been satisfactorily resolved;
Upon receipt of an inspection report performed by an independent inspector provided to the Borough as provided in § 236-5F above, if the report indicates there are no violations; or
If the inspection report provided by an independent inspector notes the presence of violations, upon presentation to the Borough of a report of the follow-up inspection in which the previously noted violations are resolved, provided the report of the follow-up inspection is presented to the Borough within two working days of the follow-up inspection.
If the inspection of a residential rental unit discloses code deficiencies, the Property Maintenance Code Officer or other Borough designee, or the independent inspector, shall issue a notice of violation. The notice of code violation shall set forth the following:
The street address or appropriate description of the subject property;
The date of the inspection;
The identity of the inspector;
A list of the code deficiencies;
The number of days in which the owner and/or occupant is to accomplish repairs and/or otherwise eliminate the code deficiencies; and
Notice that, if the conditions are not repaired or the premises are not otherwise brought into compliance with the applicable code within the time specified, the tenant and/or the owner may be prosecuted and/or the residential rental unit may be placarded as unfit for human occupancy in accordance with the Borough Property Maintenance Code. Only the Borough shall have authority to institute prosecution proceedings under the terms of this article.
Upon the expiration of the time specified to accomplish repairs or otherwise bring the premises into code compliance, or upon notice to the Borough from the owner that the repairs have been accomplished or code deficiencies otherwise eliminated, whichever occurs first, the Borough Property Maintenance Code Officer or other Borough designee, or independent inspector, as the case may be, shall reinspect the subject residential rental unit.
In the event such reinspection discloses that the owner accomplished the repairs or the code deficiencies have otherwise been eliminated, the Borough Property Maintenance Code Officer or other Borough designee shall issue a certificate of compliance to the owner or tenant in accordance with this article. Where the reinspection has been completed by an independent inspector, the certificate of compliance shall be issued by the proper Borough official, provided a report of the reinspection indicating that all deficiencies have been resolved is received by the Borough within two working days of the date of the reinspection.
In the event such reinspection discloses that the owner failed to accomplish the repairs or otherwise eliminate the code deficiencies, the Property Maintenance Code Officer may pursue prosecution as otherwise provided in the Borough Property Maintenance Code.
[Amended 6-13-2011 by Ord. No. 2011-05]
The owner of a residential rental unit shall be billed annually for a portion of the total program costs of the inspections contemplated by this article. Council, by resolution, shall establish the inspection fee annually on or before March 31 of each year. Program fee invoices shall be mailed for each residential rental unit, generally, before July 31 of each year. Payment of all invoices must be made prior to September 1 of the year for which the annual fee is charged. Failure to pay the annual fee when due may result in the issuance of a notice that the property is not a qualified residential rental unit and may not be utilized for that purpose until the fee is paid. Fees assessable by the Borough for the administration and enforcement undertaken pursuant to this article and the Code shall be established by the Borough by resolution from time to time.
In the event violations of any of the codes referenced in § 236.1 of this article are found during the initial inspection of the premises, fees will be assessed according to the Master Fee Schedule for each reinspection of the premises for matters relating to the violations found during the initial inspection. Where the violation notice issued specifies times for resolving noted Property Maintenance Code violations, it should be anticipated that an additional inspection will be required for each time frame established in the notice. The foregoing notwithstanding, if the initial program inspection of the premises discloses five or fewer Property Maintenance Code violations, a fee will be assessable by the Borough for the administration and enforcement undertaken pursuant to this article and the Code as shall be established by the Borough by resolution from time to time.
In those instances in which a valid certificate of compliance is issued based upon a qualified inspection described in Subsection C(1) and (2) below, if the certificate of compliance is dated less than three years from the first day of September of the then current year, no inspection fee will be required as to those residential rental units for which a certificate of compliance has been properly issued. Refer to the Master Fee Schedule for the certificate of compliance fee amount. Fees assessable by the Borough for the administration and enforcement undertaken pursuant to this article and the Code shall be established by the Borough by resolution from time to time, and current schedules are available from the office of the Borough Secretary.
The issuance of a certificate of compliance is not a representation by the Borough that the residential rental unit inspected and/or the building in which it is located does not contain any violation of any of the codes referenced in the definition of "codes" above. Rather, the issuance of a certificate of compliance represents that on the date of inspection, no material violation of any of said codes was noted by the inspector. Neither the enactment of this article nor the issuance of a certificate of compliance is a guarantee to any person that no code violations exist in the premises inspected, nor shall there be imposed any liability upon the Borough for any errors or omissions which resulted in the issuance of such certificate, nor shall the Borough bear any liability not otherwise imposed by law.
The owner of a residential rental unit or a tenant of said unit if a tenant has been cited who is aggrieved by a decision of the Property Maintenance Code Officer or other Borough designee may, within 30 days of the date of receipt of the notice of violation or the time fixed for repair, whichever is shorter, appeal the decision in accord with applicable provisions of the Borough of Chambersburg Property Maintenance Code.
Nothing in this article shall preclude or prohibit the Property Maintenance Code Officer or other Borough designee from identifying any code violations or inspecting any property according to the terms of any of the referenced codes at any time, whether or not the particular premises are scheduled for periodic inspection under the terms of this article.
The failure of any owner to effect corrections as provided in this article shall be considered a violation of the Borough Property Maintenance Code Ordinance and the procedures and penalties prescribed therein shall be applicable.
The failure of any owner to schedule an inspection or reinspection as provided in this article shall result in the issuance of a notice to the owner that the property is not a qualified residential rental unit, in which event it shall be unlawful for any person to occupy or to let to others for occupancy the premises in question until the unit becomes a qualified residential rental unit after inspection and compliance with violation notices.
Rental of a unit that is not a qualified residential rental unit shall result in a penalty as provided in the Borough Property Maintenance Code for violations of that code.
Property condition violations are subject to the imposition of penalties as provided for such violations in the Borough of Chambersburg Property Maintenance Code.