[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Supervisors of the Township of Whitemarsh as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
[Adopted 4-14-1983 by Ord. No. 461]
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- One who grants a lease or rents real estate to another for dwelling or commercial purposes.
- Any natural person, 18 years of age or older, partnership, association, firm or corporation. The singular shall include the plural, and the masculine shall include the feminine and the neuter.
- RENTAL FACILITIES
- Includes but is not limited to all single-family dwelling units, multiple-family units, apartments, townhouses, mobile home sites and commercial units.
It shall be the duty of each said person, landlord or lessor to submit to the Township Finance Director a list of occupants, consisting of the names and apartment numbers/addresses of all persons residing or occupying said unit for commercial or residential purposes. Said list shall be submitted within 60 days of the effective date of this article and shall be updated quarterly thereafter every January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1.
Each person, landlord or lessor who owns or controls property within the Township that is leased, granted or rented as a dwelling or commercial unit is hereby required to notify the Township Finance Director upon the forms provided of any change in occupancy of any of his facilities. Such notification shall be submitted to the Township Finance Director within 30 days of the change in occupancy of any such facilities.
[Amended 12-8-1988 by Ord. No. 565]
Any person or persons, corporation, partnership or other entity whatsoever violating any of the provisions of this chapter shall, upon conviction, be sentenced to pay a fine not to exceed the maximum fine of $600, plus costs of prosecution, and, in default of payment of such costs and prosecution, imprisonment for a term not exceeding 30 days; provided, however, that if the District Justice determines that the defendant is without the financial means to pay the fines and costs immediately or in a single remittance, such defendant shall be permitted to pay the fines or costs in installments and over such periods of time as the District Justice deems to be just.
The provisions of this article shall be enforced by the Township Finance Director.
[Adopted 12-17-2009 by Ord. No. 886]
Editor's Note: This ordinance provided an effective date of 1-1-2010.
This article shall be known and may be cited as "The Rental License and Inspection Code" of Whitemarsh Township.
The purpose of this article is to establish a licensing and inspection program for residential rental units within the Township of Whitemarsh in order to protect and promote the public health and safety of its citizens, to ensure that each rental property is properly maintained by the owner and occupant. This article provides for a regular inspection program, registration and licensing of residential rental units and penalties for noncompliance.
The following words and phrases, as used in this article, shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this section, unless the context indicates a different meaning. Where terms are not defined in this section, such terms shall have ordinarily accepted meanings by use of definitions provided in the codes and standards as contained in the Code of the Township of Whitemarsh.
- AGENT or REPRESENTATIVE
- A person who shall have charge, care or control of any structure as owner, or agent of the property owner, or as executor, executrix, administrator, trustee or guardian of the estate of the property owner. Any such person representing the property owner shall be bound to comply with the provisions of this article to the same extent as if that person were the property owner.
- The property owner, buyer, or agent thereof, including but not limited to a realtor, broker, etc., whom shall have control, authority and responsibility for the orderly processing of any real property regulated by this article.
- Any structure occupied or intended for supporting or sheltering any occupancy. For application of this article, each portion of a building, which is completely separated from other portions by firewalls complying with the Whitemarsh Township Building Code or completely detached from any other building shall be considered as a separate building.
- BUILDING AND CODE DEPARTMENT
- The Department of Building and Code of the Township of Whitemarsh charged with the enforcement of the Code of the Township of Whitemarsh.
- Any code or ordinance adopted, enacted and/or in effect in the Township of Whitemarsh concerning fitness for habitation or the construction, maintenance, operation, occupancy, use or appearance of any buildings, structures, and/or portions of lots of ground or structures regulated by this article.
- CODE ENFORCEMENT OFFICER
- The Director of Code Enforcement of Whitemarsh Township, or person designated by him/her, charged with the administration and enforcement of this article.
- COMMON AREA
- Space which is not a part of the rental unit and which is shared with other occupants of a rental unit, whether they reside in the rental unit or not. Common areas shall be considered part of the premises for the purpose of this article.
- DWELLING UNIT
- A single unit providing complete, independent living facilities for one or more persons, including permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking and sanitation.
- MULTIPLE SINGLE-FAMILY DWELLING
- A building or portion thereof that contains more than two dwelling units.
- PROPERTY OWNER
- Any person, agent, operator, firm or corporation having a legal or equitable interest in the property; or recorded in the official records of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, County of Montgomery or Whitemarsh Township 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 the estate of such person if ordered to take possession of real property by a court.
- RENTAL AGREEMENT
- A legal agreement between the property owner and tenant, embodying the terms and conditions relating to the use and occupancy of a rental unit.
- RENTAL LICENSE
- A document issued by the Building and Code Department to the property owner of a rental unit pursuant to this article and required for the lawful rental and occupancy of any rental property.
- RENTAL PROPERTY
- A premises, property or portion thereof that is under a rental agreement, and/or contains one or more rental units.
- RENTAL UNIT
- Any dwelling, structure, building or portion thereof that is occupied or used under a rental agreement.
- SINGLE-FAMILY DWELLING UNIT
- A building on a lot designed and occupied exclusively as a residence for one family.
- Any individual or individuals who are a party to a legal agreement, such as a rental agreement, with the property owner, pursuant to which permission to use a dwelling, structure, building, ground or portion thereof, is granted by the property owner to the tenant. Tenant includes other individuals who, due to a relationship with the tenant, shall share such use of the rental unit as permitted by the rental agreement, and are party to a separate rental agreement.
- The Township of Whitemarsh of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.
It shall be unlawful for any person to occupy, allow to be occupied, advertise for occupancy, or solicit occupants of any residential rental property within the Township without a rental license. The property owner or agent of each rental property shall register each rental unit with the Building and Code Department and shall pay the required registration fee in accordance with the Township's Fee Schedule. Fees shall not be prorated for any reason. Registration forms shall be available in the Building and Code Department office. The following information shall be submitted with the registration form:
Name, address and telephone number of the property owner.
Name, address and telephone number of the person authorized to collect rents or fees from the premises.
Name, address and telephone number of any person authorized to make or order made repairs or services for the rental property, if such person is different from that of the property owner or rental agent.
Name of person or entity responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the property.
Street address of the rental property.
Number and types of dwelling units within the rental property.
A list of current tenants, including contact information.
A property owner or agent shall notify the Township in writing within 30 calendar days following any change in the above information.
Issuance of rental license. No rental license shall be issued until the residential rental property is in compliance with this article.
Each license for a residential rental property shall be subject to biannual renewal (i.e., every two years) pursuant to the terms of this article.
If there is a change in the type of occupancy from the type stated on the registration statement, a new registration statement and license shall be required.
There shall be a license fee for the initial license and a renewal fee every two years thereafter based upon the application approval date. The fee shall be based upon the number of units per building. In the case of multiple building complexes, each building shall be considered as an individual building. There shall also be a license transfer fee and a license reinstatement fee. All fees shall be established from time to time by the Board of Supervisors.
Upon receipt of an initial application, the application shall be forwarded to the Code Enforcement Officer, who shall, within 10 working days of receipt of the application, perform an inspection of the rental property to determine whether such property complies with the provisions of all applicable rules, standards, statutes and ordinances. The Code Enforcement Officer shall make a report thereon. No license shall be issued if all registration information required by this article is not complete or if the rental property does not fully comply with the provisions of all applicable rules, standards, statutes and ordinances pertaining to such rental property. Penalties for failure to comply with the provisions of this article shall be as set forth herein.
Within 30 days of the transfer of the ownership of rental property, the property owner/licensee shall give written notice, including the name and address of the transferee, to the Code Enforcement Officer. The transferee shall make application for transfer of the license for the rental property and shall pay the required fee for such transfer, within 30 days after the transfer of the rental property. Failure to make application within the specified time limit shall result in automatic forfeiture of the license. Relicensing of any property for which the license has been forfeited shall require application for a new license. No application for transfer of a license shall be issued unless the Code Enforcement Officer determines that the rental property is in compliance with the requirements of all applicable rules, codes, statutes and ordinances. The fee for license transfer shall be set from time to time by the Board of Supervisors.
Any rental license may be revoked or suspended at any time during the life of said license for the following reasons:
False or misleading information given or provided in connection with the license application, renewal application or license transfer application;
Failure to pay any fee;
Failure to correct violations in the time period prescribed;
Violations committed or permitted by the licensed property owner and/or the property owner's designated agent, of any rules, codes, statutes or ordinances relating to, pertaining to, or governing the license and the rental property.
A suspended license may be reinstated only after the Code Enforcement Officer determines that the circumstances leading to the suspension have been remedied and a reinstatement fee as set by the Board of Supervisors has been paid.
All records, files, and documents pertaining to a license issued pursuant to this article shall be retained by the Township for five years after expiration of such license, and shall be made available to the public as allowed or required by applicable laws, rules, codes, statutes or ordinances.
All rental property shall meet the inspection standards set forth in Exhibit A, attached hereto and made part hereof, in order to obtain and/or maintain a license pursuant to this article.
It is the responsibility of the property owner/applicant or agent to contact the Building and Code Department and schedule all inspections required pursuant to this article. Inspection requests shall be made to the Building and Code Department no less than 48 hours prior to the time of the desired inspection.
Property owners and their agents shall permit the Code Enforcement Officer to inspect all property subject to this article in order to determine if the property is operated as a rental property and/or to determine compliance with the provisions of this article, and shall fully cooperate with such inspections. Property owners and their agents shall make reasonable efforts to notify tenants of planned inspections of their rental units to the extent required by state law.
If a property owner, occupant, or other person in charge of a dwelling unit fails or refuses to permit free access and entry to the structure or premises, or any part thereof, for an inspection, the Code Enforcement Officer may, upon a showing that probable cause exists for the inspection, obtain an order to inspect and/or a search warrant from a court of competent jurisdiction.
Property owners shall cooperate in the execution of all administrative search warrants and court orders, including providing access and entry to rented premises where directed to do so.
For premises covered by a rental housing license:
Residential/non-commercially mixed occupancies: All exterior areas, interior common areas, and the individual rental unit in question must be made available for inspection at the same time.
Residential/commercially mixed occupancies: All areas of mixed occupancies, such as and similar to residential/commercial storefronts, shall be available for inspection at the same time to include each individual rental unit.
For properties containing 100 or more rental units:
When located in one or more buildings, owned by the same property owner, provided that the property complies with all of the requirements listed below, the Building and Code Department shall inspect 1/3 of the total rental units each year so that said rental units shall be inspected once every three years either on turnover or by appointment. Each rental unit must be inspected within this three year cycle. Common areas are to be inspected annually.
Large rental complexes having 100 or more rental units shall comply with the following:
The property shall have a properly staffed on-site property management office, capable of handling complaints and other housing issues related to rental units, in a timely and efficient manner.
The property shall have either an on-site facility maintenance department with personnel who are properly licensed with the Township and are authorized to perform electrical, mechanical, plumbing and structural repairs; or an off-site facility maintenance department, available on a twenty-four-hour, seven-days-per-week basis. If the property has an off-site maintenance department, the property owner shall provide to the Code Enforcement Officer the name, address and telephone number for such department, and such off-site maintenance department shall be available to respond within four hours of any emergency requiring repair.
The on-site facility maintenance department shall have access to basic supplies or other resources to resolve any electrical, mechanical or plumbing failures or structural defects that occur on the rental property.
Both the on-site property management office and the on-site facility maintenance department shall be sufficiently staffed to supply all necessary personnel during normal daytime business hours and shall be readily available to respond on weekends, holidays and after business hours.
The Code Enforcement Officer shall be authorized to require additional engineering or specialty inspections and certifications by third-party experts for conditions that are beyond the scope of the Code Enforcement Officer's expertise.
Whenever a Code Enforcement Officer determines that any residential rental property fails to meet the requirements set forth in applicable rules, standards, statutes or ordinances, he or she shall issue a correction notice setting forth the violations and ordering the occupant, property owner and/or property owner's designated agent to correct such violations. This notice and order shall:
Be in written form;
Be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested;
Describe the location and nature of the violation;
Establish a reasonable time for the correction of any violation; and
Be served upon the property owner, the property owner's designated agent and/or the occupant as determined by the Code Enforcement Officer.
Failure to correct violations within the time period stated in a correction order shall result in a penalty fee as determined by the Board of Supervisors. If the correction order relates to actions or omissions of the willful or proscribed occupant, and the occupant fails to make the necessary correction, the property owner may be required to remedy the condition by whatever means necessary. No adverse action shall be taken against a licensee for failure to remedy a condition during the pendency of a bona fide eviction proceeding being pursued diligently by the licensee.
An authorized representative of the property owner shall be present on the premises during inspections; however, failure of a property owner to comply with this requirement shall not deprive the Township of the authority to inspect.
Failure of a property owner to obey any of the requirements of this article shall subject the property owner to suspension or revocation of license, in addition to other remedies and/or penalties provided by law. Any such suspension or revocation shall continue until the inspection sought has been completed, any violations have been satisfactorily remedied and any outstanding fees or penalties have been paid.
A tenant may at any time request an inspection of the rental property in which he or she currently resides. A fee for such inspection shall be imposed on the tenant only if the Code Enforcement Officer finds, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the request was made in bad faith
It shall be the duty of every property owner or agent to keep and maintain all rental units in compliance with all applicable codes and ordinances of the Township. The property owner shall not knowingly permit others on the premises to:
Engage in any conduct declared illegal under the Pennsylvania Crimes Code, Liquor Code, or Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act; or
Use the rental unit in violation of the Code of the Township of Whitemarsh.
Nothing in this article shall prevent the Township from taking action under any applicable rule, standard, statute or ordinance for violations thereof or to seek either injunctive relief or criminal prosecution for such violations as therein provided. Nothing contained in this article shall prevent the Township from seeking injunctive relief against a property owner or designated agent who fails to comply with the terms and conditions of this article on registration and licensing, including an order prohibiting the occupancy of such rental unit until violations of this article have been remedied by the property owner or designated agent.
This article is not intended to, nor shall its effect be, to limit any other enforcement remedies, which may be available to the Township relating to the abatement of nuisances or correction of violations.
The Code Enforcement Officer may enforce this article as follows once he or she determines that the structure of a rental property is so old, dilapidated or has become so out of repair as to be dangerous, unsafe, or unsanitary or otherwise unfit for human habitation or occupancy:
Order the property to be vacated;
Order the owner to abate or stabilize the property or structures thereon if such structures are capable of being made safe by repairs, to repair and make safe and sanitary at the owner's expense; or
Order the demolition of the structure and/or the condemnation of the property at the owner's expense, which in the Township Engineer's judgment and certification, is such that it is unreasonable to repair the structure.
The property owner shall receive notice and opportunity to be heard upon the Code Enforcement Officer's determination to issue any of the remedies described in this section. All determinations of the Code Enforcement Officer are subject to appeal in accordance with this article.
If any building, structure or land is proposed to be erected, constructed, reconstructed, altered, converted, maintained or used in violation of this article, the Code Enforcement Officer may, in addition to other remedies, institute in the name of the Township any appropriate action or proceedings to prevent, restrain, correct or abate such building, structure or land or to prevent, in or about such premises, any act, conduct, business or use constituting such violation.
Any expenses incurred by the Township in connection with the remedies provided herein shall be recoverable from the owner of the property, land, building or structure involved, together with a penalty of 10% of such expense, in a manner provided by law for the collection of municipal claims. In addition, any person violating the provisions of this article shall be subject to the penalty provided in § 94-3 of the Whitemarsh Township Code.
Persons subject to the provisions of this article shall be subject to all applicable rules, standards, statutes and ordinances; and except as provided herein, this article shall not be construed or interpreted to supercede any other such applicable rules, standards, statutes or ordinances.
The Board of Supervisors of the Township of Whitemarsh may adopt from time to time, by resolution, rules, policies and procedures for the implementation of this article. Violation of any such rule, policy or procedure by a property owner shall be considered a violation of this article.
Application for appeal. Any person directly affected by a decision of the Code Official or a notice or order under this code, shall have the right to appeal to the Board of Appeals, provided that a written application for appeal is filed within 20 days after the day of decision, notice or order was served. An application for this appeal shall be based on a claim that the true intent of this ordinance or the rules adopted in this article have been incorrectly interpreted or the provisions of this ordinance do not apply.
Membership. The Board of Appeals shall consist of three members. Those members shall be the Township Manager, Director of Code Enforcement and Fire Marshal.
Board decision. The Board of Appeals shall modify or reverse the decision of the Code Official only by a concurring vote of the majority of the total number of appointed board members.
Nothing herein is intended to modify, enlarge or diminish any rights or responsibilities under the Whitemarsh Township Zoning Ordinance, Chapter 116.