[HISTORY: Adopted by the Borough Council of the Borough of Palmyra as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
[Adopted 10-22-2019 by Ord. No. 797]
Editor's Note: This ordinance also repealed former Art. I, Residential Unit Registration, adopted 1-24-20112 by Ord. No. 741, as amended.
[Amended 9-24-2020 by Ord. No. 808]
This article shall be known and may be cited as the "Palmyra Borough Rental and Vacant Property Management Code."
[Amended 9-24-2020 by Ord. No. 808]
The purpose of this article and the policy of the Borough of Palmyra 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 Borough; and to encourage owners and occupants to maintain and improve the quality of rental housing and properties which are not occupied within the Borough. As a means to these ends, this article provides for registration and licensing of residential rental units, registration of vacant properties and registration of properties not occupied by the landowners. This article further requires maintenance of such properties and provides penalties for violation. In considering the adoption of this article, the Borough makes the following findings:
There is a concern in the Borough with the failure of some property owners to properly maintain residential rental units and vacant or abandoned properties.
Borough and Police Department records indicate that there are a growing number of disturbances at residential rental units.
Vacant and abandoned properties contribute to blight.
Unless otherwise expressly stated, the following terms shall, for the purpose of this article, have the meanings indicated as follows:
- ABANDONED REAL PROPERTY
- Any property that is vacant or is subject to a notice of
mortgagee's sale or pending tax claim sale or vacant properties that
have been the subject of a foreclosure sale where the title was retained
by the beneficiary of a mortgage involved in the foreclosure and any
properties transferred under a deed in lieu of foreclosure or sale.[Added 9-24-2020 by Ord. No. 808]
- The Borough of Palmyra, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania.
- BOROUGH COUNCIL
- The governing body of the Borough.
- Any state or local law, code or ordinance adopted, enacted or in effect in and for the Borough including, but not limited to, this Rental Property Management Code, codified as Chapter 277 of the Code of Ordinances, and the Property Maintenance Code.
- CODES COMPLIANCE OFFICER
- A person or persons designated by the Borough to enforce this article, including performance of inspections, issuances of notices of violations, issuance of licenses and prosecuting enforcement actions.
- The County of Lebanon.
- 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 Borough 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 Officer 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 Officer who actually investigates an alleged incident of disruptive conduct and which shall be maintained by the Codes Compliance Officer.
- A residential rental unit license required by and issued pursuant to the regulations of this article for an individual residential rental unit.
- A person identified by the owner of one or more residential rental units within the Borough to receive reports, notices and other communications from the Borough in accordance with §§ 277-4 and 277-5. Notice sent to a manager shall be considered notice to the owner.
- 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 co-partnership, 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 spouses' 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 Palmyra Borough Police Department or any other police department providing police protection services within the Borough.
- POLICE OFFICER
- An officer of the Police Department.
- Any parcel of real estate within the Borough, 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 Borough of Palmyra codified as Chapter 270 of the Code of Ordinances of the Borough, as it may be amended from time to time.
- RESIDENTIAL RENTAL UNIT
- A rooming unit or a dwelling unit let for rent or 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. Granting of permission to use shared or common cooking facilities may be associated with the leasing of a rooming unit.
- A building or structure shall be deemed to be vacant if no
person or persons actually currently conducts a lawfully licensed
business or lawfully resides or lives in any part of the building
as the legal or equitable owner(s) or tenant-occupant(s) or owner-occupants
or tenant(s) on a permanent, nontransient basis.[Added 9-24-2020 by Ord. No. 808]
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 Borough 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, Borough ordinances and applicable state laws.
Pay or ensure payment of all real estate taxes, sewer charges, and trash collection fees to insure that such vital utilities are provided.
Obtain and maintain a residential rental unit license.
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 Borough 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 Borough 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, owner may be subject to suit by the tenant for damages.
Editor's Note: See 68 P.S. § 250.101 et seq.
Provide the Borough with all required information for a designated manager 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 person shall hereafter occupy, allow to be occupied or lease to another person for occupancy any residential rental unit within the Borough without making application for and obtaining a residential rental license.
No license shall be issued for a residential rental unit unless the owner lives within 30 miles of the municipal limits of the Borough or designates a manager residing within 30 miles of the municipal limits of the Borough. The owner or, if applicable, the manager shall provide contact information to the Borough which will permit the Borough, in the event of an emergency, to contact the property owner or manager 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. In the event the Borough alerts the owner or the manager of an emergency, the owner or the manager shall go to the residential rental unit to address the emergency. The designation of a manager shall not be considered valid unless signed by the owner and the manager. The owner shall notify the Borough within 10 days of any change in the designated manager, providing all necessary contact information.
It shall be the responsibility of every owner to display the following information with the license in the residential rental unit:
By November 30 of each calendar year, the owner of each residential rental unit shall apply for a residential rental license from the Borough, which shall be valid from January 1 to December 31 of the following year. The owner of a building containing more than one residential rental unit may file a single application for all of the residential rental units in such building.
Every owner, landlord, manager or agent for an owner who rents or leases or offers for occupancy any real property or portion thereof in the Borough to any tenant or occupant for a period of time in excess of seven days shall submit an application to the Codes Compliance Officer for a residential rental license for that residential rental property, and the same shall be made upon forms furnished by the Borough for this purpose and shall include, but not be limited to, the following:
The name, address, telephone number and email address(es) of the property owner(s).
The name, address and telephone number of a manager who resides or has an office within 30 miles of the residential rental property if the property owner lives outside the thirty-mile radius of the Borough.
The street address of the residential rental property.
The number and type of units within the residential rental property.
The dwelling unit or room unit number or street address.
The name or names of all tenants and occupants over 16 years of age living and sleeping in a residential rental property or unit.
Contact information for the tenants and occupants of the residential rental property or unit.
The mailing address of the residential rental unit.
The information required in this § 277-5B shall be provided to the Borough at the time of application for licensing and as needed due to any changes of the renting, leasing, subleasing or occupancy of any residential rental property in the Borough for a period of time in excess of seven days. In the event of any change in the renting, leasing, subleasing, or occupancy of any residential rental property, the new, revised or additional information shall be provided to the Borough of Palmyra within 10 days of such change.
The Codes Compliance Officer shall deny and may revoke a license if the owner does not provide the name, mailing address, email address, and phone number of a manager (if applicable), does not pay the annual registration fee, is not current on real estate taxes, sewer 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 Officer, and/or has not complied with any requirements of this article.
The Codes Compliance Officer shall forward written notice to the owner if the Codes Compliance Officer 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 Borough Council under this article.
The Codes Compliance Officer 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.
Borough Council shall be authorized from time to time to establish by resolution such fees as are necessary to administer all provisions of this article. No application for a license is complete without payment in full of the required fee.
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.
A license shall not be transferred. In the case of licensed residential rental units that are sold or transferred, the new owner shall make application for a license for each residential rental unit prior to the occupancy of the residential rental unit. If the residential rental unit is occupied at the time of the sale or transfer, the new owner shall make application for a residential rental license within 10 days of the date of sale or transfer.
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 Borough 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 his/her 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, Borough 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.
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 the Codes Compliance Officer shall investigate alleged incidents of disruptive conduct. The police officer or Codes Compliance Officer 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 if applicable, manager 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 Borough Council. The appeal shall be submitted to the Borough Secretary with a copy to the Codes Compliance Officer.
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 Borough Council to commence eviction proceedings and actively prosecute the eviction proceeding after it is filed. Failure to take such actions 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 § 277-9C. The Codes Compliance Officer shall maintain a list of the names of all occupants evicted as a result of § 277-9C. The names shall remain on the list for a period of three years.
An appeal from any decision of the Codes Compliance Officer shall be taken to Borough Council. 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 Borough Secretary. The appeal shall be accompanied by the appeal fee which shall be established from time to time by ordinance or resolution of Borough Council. The appellant or his representative shall have the right to appear and be heard, if such right is requested in the written appeal. Borough Council shall make a decision on such appeal within 30 days of the hearing. Borough Council shall render a written decision, copies of which shall be provided to the Codes Compliance Officer and the appellant.
Enforcement. The Codes Compliance Officer or other designated person shall be responsible for enforcing the provisions of this article. The occupant of a residential rental unit or the owner or manager of the residential rental unit may request an inspection of the residential rental unit and, if applicable, common areas in the building containing the residential rental unit. The Codes Compliance Officer may conduct investigations if the Codes Compliance Officer receives complaints or has cause and may, if permission to inspect is not granted, seek a search warrant of the applicable residential rental unit.
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 fail to perform the duties established by § 277-4 of this article if such person is an owner of a residential rental unit.
To fail to perform the duties established by § 277-8 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.
Whoever violates any 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 Borough, 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 Borough 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 Borough in Chapter 270, Property Maintenance, and Chapter 380, 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 Borough's attorney's fees to the maximum extent such fees are recoverable.
[Added 9-24-2020 by Ord. No. 808]
The owner of a vacant and/or abandoned real property shall register the property with the Borough within 30 days of the vacancy or abandonment of the property, and annually thereafter, by January 15 of each year the property remains vacant and/or abandoned. The owner shall register the property with the Borough on forms provided by the Borough. Within 10 days of the property being lawfully occupied, the owner shall provide notice of the same to the Borough. The registration fee shall not be prorated based upon the date of registration.
Registration pursuant to this section shall contain the name of the owner, the owner's mailing address, a direct contact name and telephone number and email address, the UPI number and address of the vacant and/or abandoned property, and the name and twenty-four-hour contact phone number of the property management company responsible for the security and maintenance of the property, if one exists. Any owner that has registered a property under this section must report any change of information contained in the registration, in writing, within 10 days of the change to the Borough.
Borough Council shall establish registration fees for vacant and abandoned properties by resolution. Borough Council may set different fees rates for residential and commercial properties and may set increased fees for each year a property remains vacant or abandoned.
Vacant and abandoned properties shall be maintained in accordance with Chapter 270, Property Maintenance. In addition to all provisions of Chapter 270, the owner shall comply with the following:
The property shall be kept free of weeds, overgrown brush, dead vegetation, trash, junk, debris, building materials, any accumulation of newspapers, circular, flyers, notices (except those required by federal, state, or local law), abandoned vehicles, portable storage devices, discarded personal items, including, but not limited to, furniture, clothing, large and small appliances, printed material or any other items that give the appearance that the property is abandoned.
The property shall be maintained free of graffiti or similar markings by removal or painting over with an exterior-grade paint that matches the color of the exterior structure.
Yard maintenance shall include, but not be limited to, grass, ground covers, bushes, shrubs, hedges or similar plantings, decorative rock or bark or artificial turf/sod designed specifically for residential installation. Acceptable maintenance of yards and/or landscaping shall not include weeds, gravel, broken concrete, asphalt or similar material.
Maintenance shall include, but not be limited to, cutting, trimming, and mowing of required ground cover or landscape and removal of all trimmings.
Pools and spas shall be maintained so that the water remains free and clear of pollutants and debris and does not cause a danger to the public health, safety, and welfare.
Vacant and abandoned properties shall be maintained in a secure manner so as not to be accessible to unauthorized persons. A "secure manner" shall include, but not be limited to, the closure and locking of windows, doors, gates and other openings of such size that may allow a child to access the interior of the property or structure. Broken windows shall be secured by reglazing of the window.
[Added 9-24-2020 by Ord. No. 808]
Where a residential dwelling is not occupied by the owner and is occupied solely by members of the family of the owner, the owner shall register the dwelling unit with the Borough within 30 days after the owner ceases to reside in the residential dwelling. The owner shall annually renew such registration by November 30 of each calendar year for the following calendar year. The required registration shall include all information required by § 277-5B. No fee shall be imposed for such registration.