[HISTORY: Adopted by the Borough Council of the Borough of West Grove as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
[Adopted 10-5-2005 by Ord. No. 2005-06]
This article shall be known as the "West Grove Residential Occupancy Ordinance."
In this article, the following terms (which are identified in this article by use of first letter capitals) shall have the meanings indicated in this section:
- An application for a permit, filed with the Borough by the property Owner, pursuant to this article.
- The Residential Occupancy Review Board established pursuant to this article.
- The Borough of West Grove, Chester County, Pennsylvania.
- BOROUGH SECRETARY
- The person appointed as the Borough Secretary by Council.
- CODE OFFICER
- The Borough's Zoning Officer/Building Inspector, or any authorized representative of that Officer, and/or any other person authorized by the Council to inspect pursuant to and enforce this article.
- The Council of the Borough.
- DWELLING UNIT
- One or more rooms in a building, designated, used or intended to be used as a single and separate unit, with its own sleeping area(s), and cooking and sanitation facilities, occupied or to be occupied by one or more persons living as a housekeeping unit.
- NOTICE OF APPEAL
- A notice of appeal filed with the Borough pursuant to this article.
- NOTICE OF HEARING
- A notice of a hearing to be held by the Board pursuant to this article.
- NOTICE OF VIOLATION ("NOV")
- Any Notice of Violation given by the Code Officer pursuant to this article.
- This article.
- Any individual, firm, corporation, association, partnership, or other legal entity which alone, or jointly or severally with others, holds legal or equitable title to the residential unit (the plural use includes each and every owner).
- OWNER-OCCUPIED DWELLING
- A building with one dwelling unit or a residential condominium unit owned, in whole or in part, by one or more of the occupants.
- A residential occupancy permit issued by the Code Officer pursuant to this article.
- Any individual.
- Regulations, adopted pursuant to this article, to implement this article (the use of "regulations" in the lower case is not this term).
- RESIDENTIAL UNIT
- A dwelling unit or rooming unit.
- ROOMING HOUSE
- A building or part of a building with two or more rooming units.
- ROOMING UNIT
- Any room or group of rooms occupied or intended to be occupied by one or more persons for sleeping or living, but not a dwelling unit.
- A violation and/or noncompliance with the requirements of this article, the regulations and/or any other applicable Borough regulation.
Whenever an "owner" is required to do something pursuant to this article, all owners shall have the duty jointly and severally.
Whenever the phrase "pursuant to this article" is used with respect to a requirement, it shall mean, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise, pursuant to this article, the regulations and any determination and/or order of the Code Officer.
Permits required. A current valid permit for the affected residential unit(s) is required:
Prior to each and every occurrence of the following:
Any person (who was not identified as an occupant of the unit when a current valid permit was issued) occupying any residential unit which is not an owner-occupied dwelling;
The transfer of title to, possession and/or lease of any owner-occupied dwelling;
The transfer of title to any building containing one or more residential units;
The occupancy (either new or continued) of any residential unit which has been enlarged or reduced in size or for which any access way to the outside has been changed.
On or before the issuance of each occupancy certificate, pursuant to the Building Code, after work requiring a building permit is completed;
For the continued occupancy, after April 1, 2006, of each residential unit which is not an owner-occupied dwelling;
For each residential unit, which is not an owner-occupied dwelling, prior to the expiration of the current valid permit; and
For conditioned occupancy of any residential unit after the permit for that unit has been revoked and any period for achieving a new permit for that unit, as established by the Code Officer, has elapsed.
Duration of permit.
Each Permit for a residential unit, other than an owner-occupied dwelling, shall expire automatically one year after it is issued.
A permit shall become void automatically when the residential unit for which it was issued is changed or used in any way which requires a new permit.
A permit shall become invalid if and when revoked by the Code Officer, pursuant to the Code Officer's written determination issued to the owner that the residential unit for which the permit was issued is no longer compliant with the applicable Borough Property Maintenance Code and/or Building Code.
Application for permit.
The owner(s) of the property where a residential unit requiring a permit is located is/are responsible, jointly and severally, for filing an application, to the Borough, for the permit, which application must comply with all the requirements, established pursuant to this article, and any applicable regulation, for such applications.
All applications shall be in writing, shall use the Borough's form, shall provide all the information required pursuant to this article and shall be accompanied by the required fee. The Borough shall have no duty to process any application without the required fee.
The information to be provided, by the owner, with the application, shall include:
The street address of the property where the residential unit to be permitted is located, the Chester County uniform parcel identifier number for that property and any street address separately identifying the unit itself;
The number of residential units located on the property;
The name and mailing address of the owner(s) of the property to which notices should be sent pursuant to this article;
The number and names of all occupants of each residential unit who will occupy the unit pursuant to the requested permit; and
All information required pursuant to the regulations.
Requirements for issuance of permit. The Code Officer shall issue the permit for the residential unit when:
The required application has been filed with the Borough;
All the required fees have been paid in full;
The Code Officer has inspected the residential unit and any and all common areas and facilities serving the unit and determined that, to the extent observed by the Code Officer, they appear to be in compliance with all applicable Borough regulations;
In the case of a residential unit in a rooming house, the entire rooming house shall be inspected and the Code Officer must determine that it is in compliance with all applicable Borough regulations.
Denial of permit. If, upon inspection, the Code Officer determines that the permit should not be granted, due to any condition(s) that does/do not comply with applicable regulations, the Code Officer shall issue, to the owner, a written determination identifying the non-compliant condition(s) and ordering that compliance be achieved in a timely manner. The owner shall comply with all such orders. Provided, however, that the owner may appeal any such order to the Board, but only as provided in this article. No such appeal shall relieve the owner of the immediate duty to correct dangerous and/or nuisance conditions.
Effect of permit. The issuance of a permit for a residential unit which is not new construction is based upon inspection of conditions readily observable. A permit does not constitute the Borough's representation that there is no condition at the inspected premises which violates applicable Borough regulations. The Borough's ability to enforce compliance with its regulations, with respect to conditions existing at the time any permit is issued, is not limited by the issuance of the permit or any reliance thereon.
The Code Officer shall administer and enforce this article and the regulations.
The Code Officer is hereby authorized to inspect to determine the condition, occupancy, number of occupants, use and/or compliance, of any and all residential units, with this article, the regulations and other applicable Borough regulations.
The Code Officer is authorized to issue permits, revoke permits and issue determinations of noncompliance with this article, the regulations and other applicable Borough regulations; to issue orders compelling such compliance; and to file and prosecute legal and equitable action to compel such compliance.
If entry to any property, building or residential unit, for the purpose of inspection, is denied to the Code Officer, the Code Officer may apply to the appropriate authority for an administrative search warrant. Without limitation, when denied access, the Code Officer may request a warrant for the following reasons:
The inspection is part of a systematic inspection, permitting and enforcement program;
The affiant has knowledge of or probable cause to believe that there is an existing or potential violation of applicable Borough regulations in the residential unit; and/or
The entry is necessary for the purpose of reinspecting a violation of a Borough regulation previously observed by the Code Officer and which the Code Officer ordered to be corrected.
No search warrant is required if an imminent danger to health and safety exists or the Code Officer has probable cause to believe that a dangerous conditions exists and an inspection is required to determine if an imminent danger to health or safety exists.
Emergency order. If the Code Officer determines that, within any residential premises, an emergency condition exists which requires immediate action to protect the public health, safety and/or welfare, the Code Officer may issue a determination declaring the existence of such emergency condition and an order requiring the action necessary to be undertaken by any owner to correct such condition effectively and immediately. The owner may file an appeal of any such order with the Board, but any such appeal shall neither serve as or have the effect of a supersedeas.
Whenever the Code Officer believes, or has cause to believe, that a violation of this article, any regulations or any other Borough regulations (including but not limited to the Property Maintenance and Building Codes) exists, the Code Officer shall give written notice to the owner that an inspection is required and the owner shall promptly schedule the inspection.
If the Code Officer determines that a violation exists, the Code Officer shall issue a notice of violation to the owner, which notice shall state the nature of the violation; identify the regulation violated; identify the date the notice is issued; and include an order requiring correction within a specified time. The notice of violation may contain other requirements for compliance as well as any other pertinent information or statements which the Code Officer deems appropriate under the circumstances.
Service of notice.
Service of a notice of violation issued by the Code Officer shall be made by both regular first class mail, postage prepaid, and certified mail, return receipt requested, requiring a receipt signed by any person identified as the owner or the owner's authorized agent as identified on the application or by subsequent written notice from the owner to the Borough Secretary. Service of the NOV shall be complete upon delivery. If an NOV served by certified mail is returned with the notification by the U.S. Postal authorities that the addressee failed to claim the NOV, refused to accept the NOV, or that the NOV was undeliverable, and the NOV mailed by first-class mail has not been returned within 15 days of mailing, the NOV shall be deemed effectively served at the end of said fifteen-day period.
If both mailed NOVs are returned as either unclaimed, unaccepted or undeliverable, the Borough shall attempt to serve the NOV personally upon any adult occupant of the residential unit which is the subject of the NOV and the NOV shall also be affixed to the exterior of the room or building in which the residential unit is located.
An NOV personally served on the owner shall be effective immediately for all purposes.
The Code Officer may prepare and recommend to Council such regulations as the Code Officer determines necessary or appropriate for the implementation and administration of this article. Before any such regulations become effective, they must be approved by Council by written resolution.
The owner of each residential unit which is not an owner-occupied dwelling shall file the requisite application by January 1, 2006, and thereafter 60 days prior to the expiration of the then-current permit.
Each and every owner and occupant of any residential unit shall permit the Code Officer access thereto for the purpose of inspection pursuant to this article. The owner is responsible for scheduling inspection with the Code Officer, at such times as the Code Officer's schedule permits. The owner is responsible for scheduling and coordinating, with the occupants of the residential unit to be inspected, so that the Code Officer shall have prompt access as scheduled. The owner shall schedule the inspection within the sixty-day period preceding the expiration of the current permit and/or the occupancy of any event requiring a new permit.
The owner of each residential unit shall maintain the unit and all common areas used by the occupants of the unit and all facilities servicing the unit and the building in which and the property on which the unit is located in compliance with all applicable regulations at all times.
Fees, the time for their payment, and interest for nonpayment for applications, permits, inspections, reinspections and other matters pursuant to this article and the regulations shall be as established, from time to time, by Council by written resolution.
An owner to whom a notice of violation has been issued by the Code Officer may appeal the NOV to the Board, but only as provided in this article.
Any such appeal shall be commenced only by filing a notice of appeal with the Borough Secretary within 15 days after service of or deemed service of the NOV on the appellant pursuant to § 318-9C hereof. At the time of filing the notice of appeal, the appellant shall pay to the Borough Secretary a filing fee, the amount of which shall be established by resolution of Council. The notice of appeal shall state specifically all the grounds and facts on which the Code Officer's determination and/or order is challenged and shall identify the mailing address of the appellant for purposes of all communications concerning the appeal.
Within 30 days after the Borough's receipt of the notice of appeal, the Board shall hold a public hearing thereon. Written notice of the hearing shall be given not less than 15 days prior to the date of the hearing to the following individuals:
The Board shall issue an adjudication within 15 days after the conclusion of the Board's hearing. The adjudication shall be in writing, shall contain findings of fact, reasons for the adjudication, conclusions of law, and an order. The adjudication and order shall be served upon all parties or their attorney of record by first class regular mail, postage prepaid, or by personal service, within three business days of the issuance of the adjudication.
During the hearing, the Board shall review the notice of violation, the notice of appeal, applicable rules and regulations, take such testimony and hear such witnesses as the Board deems appropriate. Strict rules of evidence shall not apply. The scope of the Board's review shall be limited to the specific issues raised by the notice of appeal.
The Board's hearing and any adjudication rendered by it shall be held in accordance with the provisions of the Pennsylvania Local Agency Law (2 Pa.C.S.A. § 551 et seq.), as amended.
Any appeal of the Board's adjudication and order shall be filed with the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County within 30 days after the date any such adjudication and order is mailed to or served personally to the party appealing or the attorney for the party appealing, whichever occurs first.
There is hereby created a Residential Occupancy Review Board.
[Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. I)]
The Board shall consist of three members ("members"), who shall be appointed by Council. The members who are first appointed shall serve for terms, as designated by Council, of one, two and three years, respectively, from the time of their appointments. Thereafter, the term of office shall be for a period of three years for all members.
If a vacancy occurs on the Board, Council shall fill such vacancy by appointment; any person so appointed shall hold that position until the end of the unexpired term to which that person was appointed.
Board members shall elect a Chairperson from among themselves and may adopt such rules, procedures and regulations, consistent with this article and the Local Agency Law, as the Board deems necessary and appropriate to perform its duties.
[Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. I)]
Any person who violates or permits a violation of this chapter shall, upon conviction in a summary proceeding under the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure, be guilty of a summary offense and shall be punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000, plus court costs and reasonable attorneys' fees incurred by the Borough in the enforcement proceedings. Upon judgment against any person by summary conviction, or by proceedings by summons on default of the payment of the fine or penalty imposed and the costs, the defendant may be sentenced and committed to the county correctional facility for a period not exceeding 30 days. Each day that such violation exists shall constitute a separate offense, and each section of this chapter that is violated shall also constitute a separate offense. In addition to or in lieu of enforcement under this section, the Borough may enforce this chapter in equity in the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County.
[Adopted 4-3-2012 by Ord. No. 2012-01]
It is the purpose of this article and the policy of the Council of the Borough of West Grove, in order to protect and promote the public health, safety and welfare of its citizens, to establish rights and obligations of owners and occupants relating to the rental of certain residential rental units in the Borough of West Grove and to encourage owners and occupants to maintain and improve the quality of rental housing within the Borough of West Grove. It is also the policy of the Borough that owners, managers and occupants share responsibilities to obey the various codes adopted to protect and promote public health, safety and welfare.
It is also the purpose of this article to provide for the uniform and equitable distribution of the tax levies in the Borough of West Grove and upon the residents thereof.
As a means to those ends, this article provides for a system of registration of occupants, regulation of occupancy of rental units and sets penalties for violations.
This article shall be liberally construed and applied to promote its purposes and policies.
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated, unless a different meaning clearly appears from the context:
- A room furnished with a bed and intended to be used primarily for sleeping.
- DISRUPTIVE CONDUCT
- Any form of conduct, action, incident or behavior perpetrated, caused or permitted by any occupant or visitor of a rental unit that is so loud, untimely (as to hour of the day), offensive, riotous or that otherwise disturbs other persons of reasonable sensibility in their peaceful enjoyment of their premises such that a report is made to police and/or to the Zoning Officer/Building Inspector complaining of such conduct, action, incident or behavior. 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 a 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 the Zoning Officer/Building Inspector or police shall investigate and make a determination that such did occur, and keep written records, including a disruptive conduct report, of such occurrence.
- DISRUPTIVE CONDUCT REPORT
- A written report of disruptive conduct on a form to be prescribed therefor, to be completed by the Zoning Officer/Building Inspector or police, as the case may be, who actually investigates an alleged incident of disruptive conduct and which shall be maintained by the Zoning Officer/Building Inspector.
- A lessor, or person who acts as agent for the lessor, of any rental unit located in the Borough of West Grove, or a lessor, or person who acts as agent for the lessor, of any rental unit located in the Borough of West Grove.
- An individual who resides in a residential rental unit, whether or not he or she is the owner thereof. "Occupant" shall not include a person who is visiting an occupant of a rental unit for a period of seven days or less.
- Any individual, partnership, association, firm or corporation.
- The Police Department of the Borough of West Grove or any properly authorized member or officer thereof or any law enforcement agency having jurisdiction within the Borough of West Grove.
- An parcel of real estate within the Borough of West Grove, including land and all buildings and appurtenant structures on which one or more rental units are located.
- RENTAL UNIT
- A residential unit located within the Borough of West Grove with one or more rooms used for living and sleeping purposes arranged for occupancy by one family or by one or more persons which is leased to a tenant by a landlord.
- A person who has the use, either by himself or with others, of a rental unit owned by a person other than himself.
Within 30 days from the effective date of this article, each landlord shall submit to the Borough Secretary a report form, supplied by the Borough, which includes the following information:
List of all rental units owned by the landlord, located within the Borough of West Grove, whether occupied or not occupied.
Address of each rental unit.
Whether or not the rental unit is inhabited by tenants.
Names of each tenant occupying the rental unit, if any, including their phone number, age, beginning and end date of the lease, email address and employer, if any.
After the effective date of this article, any person who becomes a landlord of any rental unit located in the Borough of West Grove by agreement of sale, by deed, lease or by any other means shall, within 10 days thereafter, report to the Borough Secretary the information and data set forth in § 318-14 above, and on the report form herein referenced and attached hereto as Exhibit A.
After the effective date of this article, each and every landlord of a rental unit within the Borough of West Grove shall report to the Borough Secretary on a report form to be supplied by the Borough any change in the use or occupancy of any rental unit owned by such landlord. The reported change shall include the name or names of new tenants of such rental unit, the date when such change was effected and the forwarding address of the old tenant or tenants if known. In the event that a rental unit was used or utilized by a tenant and then becomes vacant, this change shall also be reported to the Borough Secretary. All reports required by this section shall be made within 10 days after a rental unit has had a change in occupancy or has become vacant.
When, following an investigation of an alleged violation of this article, the Police or Borough Zoning Officer/Building Inspector determines that an individual or individuals who are not registered with the Borough in accordance with the provisions of this article are occupants of a rental unit, the police or Borough Zoning Officer/Building Inspector are hereby authorized to remove such occupants upon five days' prior written notice. A copy of such written notice shall be delivered to the Secretary of the Borough on the day such written notice is served upon the occupant or occupants.
General. The occupant shall comply with all obligations imposed upon occupants by this article, all applicable codes and ordinances of the Borough of West Grove and all applicable provisions of law.
Health and safety regulations.
The maximum number of persons permitted in any rental unit at any time shall not exceed the limitations set forth in § 318-19 below.
The occupant shall deposit all rubbish, garbage and other waste from his or her rental unit into containers provided by the landlord in a clean and safe manner and shall separate and place for collection all recyclable materials, in compliance with the Chapter 337, Solid Waste, Article I, Collection and Disposal, and all other applicable ordinances, laws and relations.
Peaceful enjoyment. The occupant shall conduct himself or herself and require any other person including, but not limited to, guests on the premises and within his or her rental unit with his or her consent, to conduct themselves in a manner that will not disturb the peaceful enjoyment of the premises by others, and that will not disturb the peaceful enjoyment of adjacent or nearby properties by the persons occupying same.
Residential use. The occupant shall, unless otherwise permitted by applicable law or ordinance, occupy or use his or her rental unit for no other purpose than as a residence.
The occupant shall not engage in, nor tolerate, nor permit others on the premises to engage in, disruptive conduct or other violations of this article.
When police or the Zoning Officer/Building Inspector investigate an alleged incident of disruptive conduct, he or she shall complete a disruptive conduct report upon a finding that the reported incident did, in his or her judgment, constitute disruptive conduct as defined herein. The information filled in on said report shall include, if possible, the identity or identities of the alleged perpetrator(s) of the disruptive conduct and all other obtainable information including the factual basis for the disruptive conduct requested on the prescribed form. Where the police make such investigation, said police officer shall then submit the completed disruptive conduct report to the Zoning Officer/Building Inspector. In all cases, the Zoning Officer/Building Inspector shall mail a copy of the disruptive conduct report to the landlord within three working days of the occurrence of the alleged disruptive conduct, whether the person making the investigation on behalf of the Borough is the Zoning Officer/Building Inspector or police.
After receipt of a disruptive conduct report from the Zoning Officer/Building Inspector, the landlord shall take immediate steps to remedy the violation and take steps to assure that there is not a reoccurrence of the violation. Within 10 days after receipt of a disruptive conduct report, the landlord shall file with the Zoning Officer/Building Inspector a report, on a form provided by the Borough, setting forth what action the landlord has taken to remedy the violation and what steps he or she has taken to prevent a reoccurrence of the violation. Failure to do so shall be a violation of this article.
Removal or defacement of notice. It shall be a violation of this article for any person to remove or deface any notice or document required to be posted within a rental unit and it shall be unlawful for any person to occupy the rental unit unless all notices and documents are posted as required.
Disruptive conduct. It shall be a violation of this article for any occupant or any other person to engage in disruptive conduct as defined by this article.
Rental units shall not be occupied by more occupants than permitted by the minimum area requirements set forth in the table below:
Every bedroom occupied by one person shall contain not less than 70 square feet of floor area, and every bedroom occupied by more than one person shall contain at least 50 square feet of floor area for each additional occupant thereof. All bedrooms to be occupied by one or more persons shall have a minimum of seven feet ceiling height.
Bedrooms shall not constitute the only means of access to other bedrooms or toilet rooms.
Maintain on file at the Borough of West Grove's office the names of the landlords owning rental units in the Borough of West Grove, said list to include the names of the current tenants of said rental units.
Notify the Chief of Police and the Fire Chief of the Borough of West Grove of the address and description of any rental unit that is vacant, unoccupied and not in use.
The police and/or the Borough Zoning Officer/Building Inspector are authorized to enforce the regulations contained in this article. Borough Council may also authorize other individuals by resolution to enforce the regulations contained in this article.
Any person violating any of the provisions of this article shall, upon conviction thereof, be sentenced to pay a fine of not less than $500 nor more than $1,000 and the costs of prosecution, and in default of payment of said fines and costs, to imprisonment for a term not to exceed 30 days. Each day that a violation of this article occurs shall constitute a separate offense.