[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Supervisors of the Township of Mount Joy as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
[Adopted 4-18-2016 by Ord. No. 301-2016]
Editor’s Note: This ordinance also repealed former Art. I, Rental Property Maintenance Code, adopted 8-18-2008 by Ord. No. CCXLIV, as amended.
This article shall be known and may be cited as the Mount Joy Township Rental Property Management Code.
The purpose of this article and the policy of the Township of Mount Joy shall be to protect and promote the public health, safety and welfare of its citizens; to establish rights and obligations of owners and occupants relating to residential rental units in the Township; and to encourage owners and occupants to maintain and improve the quality of rental housing within the Township. As a means to these ends, this article provides for a systematic inspection program, registration and licensing of residential rental units and penalties. In considering the adoption of this article, the Township makes the following findings:
There is a concern in the Township with the failure of some property owners to properly maintain residential rental units.
Township records indicate there is a greater incidence of problems with the maintenance and upkeep of residential properties which are not owner-occupied as compared to those that are owner-occupied.
Township records indicate that violations of the Township's ordinances are generally less severe at owner-occupied units as compared to residential rental units.
Township and Police Department records indicate that there are a growing number of disturbances at residential rental units.
Unless otherwise expressly stated, the following terms shall, for the purpose of this article, have the meanings indicated as follows:
- Any state or local law, code or ordinance adopted, enacted or in effect in and for the Township, including, but not limited to, this Rental Property Management Code, codified as Chapter 98 of the Code of Ordinances, and the Property Maintenance Code.
- CODES COMPLIANCE OFFICIAL
- A person designated by the Township to enforce this article, including performance of inspections, issuance of notices of violations, issuance of licenses and prosecuting enforcement actions.
- The County of Lancaster.
- DESIGNATED CONTACT PERSON
- A person identified by the owner of one or more residential rental units within the Township to receive reports, notices and other communications from the Township. Notice sent to a designated contact person shall be considered notice to the owner.
- DISRUPTIVE CONDUCT
- Any act by an occupant of a residential rental unit or by a person present at a residential rental unit involving public drunkenness, consumption of an alcoholic beverage in public, public urination or defecation, the unlawful deposit of trash or litter on public or private property, damage to or destruction of public or private property, the obstruction of public roads, streets, highways or sidewalks, interference with emergency or police services, unreasonable noise as defined by the Pennsylvania Crimes Code and case law of the appellate courts of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and/or the United States. Use of profane or obscene language or gestures, indecent exposure, fighting or quarreling, or any other act defined as "disorderly conduct" in the Pennsylvania Crimes Code or any act which otherwise injures or endangers the health, safety or welfare of the residents of the Township residing in the neighborhood or vicinity of the gathering. It is not necessary that such conduct, action, incident or behavior constitute a criminal offense, nor that criminal charges be filed against any person in order for said person to have perpetrated, caused or permitted the commission of disruptive conduct, as defined herein; provided, however, that no disruptive conduct shall be deemed to have occurred unless a Codes Compliance Official or a police officer shall investigate and make a determination that such did occur, and keep written records, including a disruptive conduct report, of such occurrences. The occupant and the owner shall be notified of any such occurrences, in writing.
- DISRUPTIVE CONDUCT REPORT
- A written report of disruptive conduct to be completed by a police officer or Codes Compliance Official who actually investigates an alleged incident of disruptive conduct and which shall be maintained by the Codes Compliance Official.
- A residential rental unit license required by and issued pursuant to the regulations of this article for an individual residential rental unit.
- Any person living and sleeping in a residential rental unit or having actual possession of said residential rental unit.
- The person who holds record title and/or the equitable owner under an agreement of sale of a property upon which a residential rental unit is erected or maintained. If more than one person owns the residential rental unit as joint tenants, tenants in common, tenants by the entireties, or tenants in copartnership, each such person shall be considered an owner and shall have all the duties of an owner under this section.
- OWNER'S FAMILY
- The person who holds record title and/or equitable owner and his or her spouse, son, daughter, and such owner's parents or owner's spouse's parents only.
- A natural individual, unincorporated association, partnership, corporation, estate, trust or any other legally recognized entity, and the members of such partnership and the officers of such entities.
- POLICE DEPARTMENT
- The Northwest Regional Lancaster County Police Department or any other police department providing police protection services within the Township.
- POLICE OFFICER
- An officer of the Police Department.
- Any parcel of real estate within the Township, including the land and all buildings and appurtenant structures, on which one or more residential rental units are located.
- PROPERTY MAINTENANCE CODE
- The Property Maintenance Code of the Township of Mount Joy codified as Chapter 96 of the Code of Ordinances of the Township, as it may be amended from time to time.
- RESIDENTIAL RENTAL UNIT
- 1) A rooming unit or 2) a dwelling unit let for rent or 3) a dwelling unit occupied by any persons other than one occupied solely by the owner and members of the owner's family. Each individual townhouse dwelling, each individual apartment unit, each individual unit in a multifamily building, and each rooming unit shall be considered a separate residential rental unit. If a structure contains a rooming unit or if any portion of the structure is let for rent, it shall be considered a residential rental unit whether or not the owner or a relative of the owner also resides in the structure. A residential rental unit includes dwelling units under lease-purchase agreements or long-term (greater than six months) agreements of sale. A residential rental unit shall not include a hotel unit or a hospital room utilized for medical services.
- ROOMING UNIT
- A portion of a dwelling unit including any room or group of rooms forming a single habitable unit used or intended to be used for living and sleeping, but not for cooking purposes. The granting of permission to use shared or common cooking facilities may be associated with the leasing of a rooming unit.
- The Township of Mount Joy, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
It shall be the duty of every owner to:
Keep and maintain all residential rental units in compliance with all applicable codes, ordinances and provisions of all applicable state laws and regulations, including but not limited to the Township Zoning Ordinance and Property Maintenance Code.
Keep and maintain all premises in good and safe condition.
Be aware of and act to eliminate disruptive conduct in all residential rental units.
Employ policies to and actually manage the residential rental units under his/her control in compliance with the provisions of this article, Township ordinances and applicable state laws.
Pay or ensure payment of all real estate taxes, sewer charges, water charges, and trash collection fees to insure that such vital utilities are provided.
Obtain and maintain a license for each residential rental unit.
Provide trash and recyclable collection and disposal services information and instruct tenants of the method of trash and recyclable collection (e.g., curbside or dumpster and day of pickup).
Provide the Township within 10 days of occupancy with the names, physical address and mailing address, if different, of all tenants of the residential rental unit and notify the Township of changes in the occupancy of the residential unit within 10 days thereof.
Require a written rental agreement for each residential rental unit which shall include the names of all permitted occupants. Each lease shall contain a provision and notice to the tenant(s) that if the license for the leased unit is revoked, the owner shall have the right to terminate the lease and evict the tenant with 30 days' written notice, and that tenant agrees this procedure does not violate any section of the Landlord Tenant Act of Pennsylvania. Further, if the lease is so terminated as a result of the owner not complying with the terms of this chapter, the owner may be subject to suit by the tenant for damages.
Provide the Township with all required information for a designated contact person when required to do so by this article.
Provide at least one fire extinguisher, minimum UL rating of 2A-10B:C, ABC Dry Chemical, to be placed in the kitchen or in close proximity to the kitchen, either under the kitchen sink or on a wall-mount bracket.
Install ten-year sealed lithium battery smoke detectors at such locations as are required by the Property Maintenance Code, unless the residential rental unit is provided with an operational hard-wired smoke detection system.
No license shall be issued to any owner residing more than 20 miles from the municipal limits of the Township unless the owner provides the Township with the name, mailing address and telephone number of a designated contact person residing within 20 miles of the municipal limits of the Township, authorized to accept service of process on behalf of the owner. For the purpose of this section, a post office box is not acceptable for the designated contact person's address. This designation shall not be valid unless signed by the owner and the designated contact person. The owner shall notify the Township within 10 days of any change in the designated contact person.
It shall be unlawful for any person to conduct or operate or cause to be rented any residential rental unit within the Township without having a license as required by this article.
It shall be the responsibility of every owner to display the following information with the license in the residential rental unit:
By December 31 of each calendar year, the owner of each residential rental unit shall apply for a residential rental license from the Township, which shall be valid from January 1 to December 31 of the following year.
The Codes Compliance Official shall issue a license if the owner provides the name, address and phone number of a designated contact person (if applicable), pays the registration fee, submits a complete and accurate occupant listing for the residential rental units by December 31 of each year and is current on real estate taxes, sewer fees, water fees and trash collection fees for the residential rental unit.
The Codes Compliance Official shall deny and may revoke a license if the owner does not provide the name, address and phone number of a designated contact person (if applicable), does not pay the annual registration fee, is not current on real estate taxes, sewer fees, water fees or trash collection fees for the residential rental unit, does not correct a code violation within the time frame cited by the Codes Compliance Official, and/or has not complied with any requirements of this section.
The Codes Compliance Official shall forward written notice to the owner if the Codes Compliance Official will deny, refuse to renew or revoke a license. The notification shall:
Identify the residential rental unit;
Set forth the grounds for the denial, nonrenewal or revocation, including the factual circumstances and the section of this article supporting such determination; and
Inform the owner of the right to appeal the denial, nonrenewal or revocation of the license to the Board of Supervisors under this article.
The Codes Compliance Official may reinstate a license if the owner corrects the reason for the revocation of the license, has paid the proper fees, and is otherwise in compliance with this article and all other applicable rules, regulations, ordinances and laws.
The Board of Supervisors shall be authorized from time to time to establish by resolution such fees as it determines are necessary to administer all provisions of this article.
All property owned by the county or any housing authority created by the county which is inspected annually by those agencies to assess conformance with federal standards, or properties that are inspected annually for compliance with the requirements of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development or the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, regardless of the occupants, shall be exempt from the licensing provisions of this article.
The licensing provisions of this article shall not apply to hospitals, hotel units or dormitories, fraternity houses and sorority houses on the Elizabethtown College campus on lands owned by Elizabethtown College. All student resident structures located on land which is not owned by Elizabethtown College are subject to all requirements of this article.
Commencing on July 1, 2016, prior to initial occupancy of newly constructed residential rental units, newly created residential rental units, or substantially rehabilitated residential rental units (as documented by a certificate of occupancy), the owner shall register with and make written application to the Codes Compliance Official for a license as herein provided:
Initial inspections will occur in accordance with a phased-in systematic inspection program to be prepared and made available upon request by the Codes Compliance Official. A minimum of 30 days' written notice shall be given for all initial inspections. Any owner who fails or refuses to schedule an inspection shall be provided with a notice of violation requiring the scheduling of an inspection within 10 days. If such owner thereafter fails to schedule an inspection, the license for such residential rental unit will be revoked.
The Codes Compliance Official shall inspect residential rental units after completion of the initial inspections under this article in accordance with a systematic program. Any owner who fails or refuses to schedule an inspection shall be provided with a notice of violation requiring the scheduling of an inspection within 10 days. If such owner thereafter fails to schedule an inspection, the license for such residential rental unit will be revoked.
The Codes Compliance Official may also inspect residential rental units upon a change in occupancy of the residential rental unit, upon receipt of complaints, upon the occurrence of disruptive conduct at such residential rental unit, or for any other reasonable cause.
If the Codes Compliance Official, upon completion of the inspection, finds that the applicable codes have not been met, the Codes Compliance Official shall issue notices and, if appropriate, commence enforcement actions under the procedure set forth in the code which has been violated. The following notices shall be issued to the owner of the residential rental unit or, if the owner has designated a designated contact person in accordance with § 98-4B, to the designated contact person. Notice provided to a designated contact person shall be deemed notice provided to the owner.
If the Codes Compliance Official finds violations warranting condemnation of the residential rental unit under the Property Maintenance Code, in addition to the remedies under the Property Maintenance Code, the Codes Compliance Official shall:
Issue a notice of violation requiring the residential rental unit be brought into compliance with the Property Maintenance Code within 10 days.
If, after 10 days from the date of the notice of violation, a reinspection reveals that the violations are not corrected and arrangements satisfactory to the Codes Compliance Official have not been made, the license for that unit shall be revoked, and if the unit is vacant, it shall remain vacant.
If the Codes Compliance Official finds violations not warranting condemnation of the residential rental unit under the Property Maintenance Code, the Codes Compliance Official shall issue a notice of violation requiring the residential rental unit be brought into compliance with the Property Maintenance Code within 30 days. If, after 30 days from the date of the notice of violation, a reinspection reveals that the violations are not corrected and arrangements satisfactory to the Codes Compliance Official have not been made, the license for that unit shall be revoked, and if the unit is vacant, it shall remain vacant.
A license shall not be transferred. In the case of licensed residential rental units that are sold or transferred, the new owner shall seek a license for each residential rental unit and have each residential rental unit inspected. Failure to seek a license for each residential rental unit within 60 days of the date of sale or transfer of ownership shall result in the revocation of the license.
It shall be the duty of each occupant of a residential rental unit to:
Comply with all obligations of this article and all applicable codes and Township ordinances, as well as all state laws and regulations.
Conduct himself/herself and require other persons, including, but not limited to, guests on the premises and within their residential rental unit with their consent, to conduct themselves in a manner that will not constitute disruptive conduct nor disturb the peaceful enjoyment of adjacent or nearby dwellings by people occupying the same.
Not engage in, nor tolerate, nor permit others on the premises to cause damage to the residential rental unit or engage in disruptive conduct, or other violations of this article, codes, Township ordinances, or applicable state laws.
Use the trash and recyclable collection provided by the owner to include placing trash out for weekly pickup.
Use the residential rental unit for no purpose other than as a residence.
Allow the Codes Compliance Official to inspect the residential rental unit in accordance with this article at reasonable times.
Not allow persons other than those identified on the lease to reside in the residential rental unit.
Not allow the possession of, serving to or consumption of alcohol by underage persons, nor allow the possession of, providing to or use of controlled substances by any person in an illegal fashion.
Police officers or Codes Compliance Officials shall investigate alleged incidents of disruptive conduct. The police officer or Codes Compliance Official conducting the investigation shall complete a disruptive conduct report upon a finding that the reported incident constitutes disruptive conduct. The information filed in the disruptive conduct report shall include, if possible, the identity of the alleged perpetrator(s) of the disruptive conduct and the factual basis for the disruptive conduct described in the disruptive conduct report. A copy of the disruptive conduct report shall be given or mailed to the occupant and mailed to the owner or designated contact person within 10 business days of the occurrence of the alleged disruptive conduct.
The occupant or the owner shall have 10 business days from the date of issuance of a disruptive conduct report to appeal the disruptive conduct report. The appeal shall be made in writing, shall set forth all grounds for the appeal, and shall be accompanied by any appeal fee established by the Board of Supervisors. The appeal shall be submitted to the Township Secretary with a copy to the Codes Compliance Official.
After three disruptive conduct incidents in any twelve-month period by an occupant documented by disruptive conduct reports, the owner shall have 10 business days from the date of the third disruptive conduct report to begin eviction proceedings against the occupants, unless there has been an appeal of the disruptive conduct report filed in accordance with this article. If an appeal of the third disruptive conduct report is filed, the owner shall have 10 business days from the decision of the Board of Supervisors to commence eviction proceedings. Failure to take such action will result in the immediate revocation of the license. The residential rental unit involved shall not have its license reinstated until the reinstatement fee is paid and the disruptive occupants have been evicted, the Magisterial District Judge has ruled in the occupants' favor, the Magisterial District Judge has ruled in the owner's favor but has not ordered the eviction of the occupant(s), or the occupants have filed an appeal to a higher court or declared bankruptcy, thereby preventing their eviction. The disruptive occupants, upon eviction, shall not reoccupy any residential rental unit on the same premises involved for a period of at least one year from date of eviction. This subsection is not intended to limit or inhibit the owner's right to initiate eviction actions prior to the issuance of the third disruptive conduct report in a twelve-month period.
The disruptive conduct report shall count against all occupants of the residential rental unit. More than one disruptive conduct report filed against the occupants of a residential rental unit in a twenty-four-hour period shall count as a single disruptive conduct report for the purpose of § 98-10C. The Codes Compliance Official shall maintain a list of the names of all occupants evicted as a result of § 98-10C. The names shall remain on the list for a period of three years.
An appeal from any decision of the Codes Compliance Official shall be taken to the Board of Supervisors. Such appeal shall be made in writing within 10 business days after such decision has been made. The appeal shall be verified by an affidavit, shall state the grounds therefor and shall be filed with the Township Secretary. The appeal shall be accompanied by the appeal fee, which shall be established from time to time by ordinance or resolution of the Board of Supervisors. The appellant or his representative shall have the right to appear and be heard, if such right is requested in the written appeal. The Board of Supervisors shall make a decision on such appeal within 30 days of the hearing. The Board of Supervisors shall render a written decision, copies of which shall be provided to the Codes Compliance Official and the appellant.
Enforcement. The Code Compliance Officer, Township Zoning Officer, or other designated person shall be responsible for enforcing the provisions of this article.
Violations. It shall be a violation of this article to commit or to permit any other person to commit any of the following acts:
To lease, let, or allow the occupancy of a residential rental unit without obtaining a residential rental license where required by this article.
To refuse to permit inspections required under this article for a residential rental unit.
To fail to perform the duties established by § 98-4 of this article if such person is an owner of a residential rental unit.
To fail to perform the duties established by § 98-9 of this article if such person is an occupant of a residential rental unit.
To place false information on or to omit relevant information from an application for a residential rental license.
To fail to comply with any other provisions of this article.
Allowing occupancy of a residential rental unit after the license has been revoked: a fine of not less than $500 per residential rental unit for each thirty-day period or fraction thereof that the violation exists. Each thirty-day period that the violation exists constitutes a separate violation.
Allowing occupancy of a residential rental unit without making application for and obtaining a license: a fine of not less than $500 per residential rental unit for each thirty-day period or fraction thereof that the violation exists. Each thirty-day period that the violation exists constitutes a separate violation.
Whoever violates any other provision of this article shall, upon summary conviction for a first offense, be fined no less than $100 nor more than $1,000; upon summary conviction for a second offense, be fined no less than $200 nor more than $1,000; and upon summary conviction for a third or subsequent offense be fined no less than $500 nor more than $1,000.
In addition to prosecution of persons violating this article, the Codes Compliance Official, or any duly authorized agent of the Township, may take such civil or equitable remedies, in any court of record of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, against any person or property, real or personal, to effect the provisions of this article.
The provisions of this section and the provisions of this article governing revocation, suspension or nonrenewal of residential rental licenses shall be independent, nonmutually exclusive, separate remedies, all of which shall be available to the Township as may be deemed appropriate. The remedies and procedures in this article are not intended to supplant or replace, to any degree, the remedies provided to the Township in Chapter 96, Property Maintenance, and Chapter 135, Zoning.
In addition to the fines and penalties set forth in this section, any person violating this article shall be assessed all costs allowed by law, including, but not limited to, the Township's attorney's fees to the maximum extent such fees are recoverable.