Borough of Plymouth, PA
Luzerne County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Borough Council of the Borough of Plymouth as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
[Adopted 9-11-2012 by Ord. No. 3-2012]
This article shall be referred to as the "Residential Rental Unit Ordinance."
The purpose of this article is to protect the health, safety and welfare of the residents of the Borough by establishing registration and licensing requirements for landlords. In order to meet this purpose, it is necessary to establish and maintain records as to all rental units located in the Borough and maintain a list of the tenants occupying the same. Furthermore, in order to obtain compliance with this article, it is necessary to implement an enforcement procedure, which includes fines and penalties for noncompliance.
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
DWELLING
Any building or portion thereof designed or used exclusively as the residence or sleeping place of one or more persons. This definition shall be construed to include mobile homes and rooming houses. This definition shall not be construed to include hotels, motels, homeless shelters, dormitories, hospitals, buildings or portions thereof owned or operated by a Housing Authority created or organized in accordance with the Housing Authorities Law, 35 P.S. § 1541, rehabilitation or treatment centers, nursing homes or personal care homes.
LANDLORD
One or more persons, jointly or severally, in whom all or part of the legal title to the premises is vested or all or part of the beneficial ownership and a right to the present use and enjoyment of the premises, including a mortgage holder in possession of a residential rental unit.
OCCUPANCY LICENSE
The license issued to the owner of residential unit(s) in accordance with this article, which is required for the lawful rental and occupancy of residential units.
OCCUPANT
An individual who resides in a residential unit, as defined herein, with whom a legal relationship with the owner/landlord is established or exists by virtue of a lease or by the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
OWNER
One or more persons, jointly or severally, in whom all or part of the legal title to the premises is vested or all or part of the beneficial ownership and a right to the present use and enjoyment of the premises, including a mortgage holder in possession of a residential rental unit.
PERSON
A natural person, partnership, corporation, unincorporated association, limited partnership, limited liability company, trust or any other entity.
PROPERTY MANAGER
A natural person, partnership, corporation, unincorporated association, limited partnership, limited liability company, trust or any other entity appointed by a landlord to take care of a residential rental property or unit within the Borough and act as agent for the landlord.
RESIDENTIAL RENTAL UNIT
Any structure within the Borough occupied by someone other than the owner of the real estate as determined by the most current deed, recorded in the Recorder of Deeds Office for Luzerne County, and for which the owner of said real estate receives any value, no matter how nominal, including, but not limited to, money, barter or: exchange of goods or services. Each apartment within a building or structure is a unit which requires a license.
A. 
Registration. Every owner of a residential unit, as defined in this article, must register the unit with the Borough Code Enforcement Officer as hereinafter set forth:
(1) 
All residential units must be registered with the Code Enforcement Officer on or before October 1 of each year.
(2) 
Any owner, as defined in this article, who converts any structure to a residential rental unit or units shall register the residential unit or units with the Borough's Code Enforcement Officer upon the earliest occurrence of the one of the following:
(a) 
Within 30 days of completion of any conversion;
(b) 
Within 30 days of the receipt of any rent, either in the form of money, barter or exchange of goods or services, for the unit(s);
(c) 
Within 30 days of occupancy of any unit or units by a tenant or tenants.
(3) 
The purchaser and purchaser's agent shall notify the Borough of any purchase or transfer of a residential rental unit within 10 days of such occurrence or transaction. Also, a mortgage holder who comes in possession of a residential rental unit within 10 days of doing so shall notify the Borough of the same.
(4) 
The following registration information shall be provide to the Borough by all owners:
(a) 
Owner's name, address and telephone number;
(b) 
Property address and unit number(s);
(c) 
Maximum occupancy per unit;
(d) 
Emergency telephone number in addition to the number provided in Subsection A(4)(a) above;
(e) 
Actual number of occupants; and
(f) 
Names of current tenant(s).
(5) 
The owner of a residential rental unit must report in writing any changes in the registration information to the Code Enforcement Officer within 10 days of their occurrence.
(6) 
The owner of a residential rental unit must notify the Borough of any changes of a tenant(s) by providing the name of said tenant(s) in writing to the Borough Code Enforcement Officer within 10 days of said change.
A. 
Prior to entering into a rental agreement or permitting the occupancy of any residential rental unit, the owner/landlord thereof shall be required to apply for and obtain a license for each rental unit. The cost of the license shall be $35 per unit. The purpose of the costs is to cover the expense incurred by the Borough to process the license application and maintain the information required under this article. The Council may change the current license fee by resolution.
B. 
A license shall be required for all residential units.
C. 
The application for a license shall be in a form as determined by the Borough.
A. 
Every landlord/owner shall be required to keep and maintain all residential rental units in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and all ordinances of the Borough of Plymouth and to keep such property in a good and safe condition. The transfer or assignment of these duties to the tenants or any other person shall not relieve the landlord/owner from these responsibilities or the liability associated therewith.
B. 
It shall be the landlord/owners responsibility for the management of their property in conformity with all the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as well as the ordinances of the Borough of Plymouth.
C. 
Landlords/owners are expected to use every legal means available to them to evict tenants who routinely engage in disorderly conduct, disturb the peace, or create excessive noise. The term "routinely engaged" is defined as three or more violations of any of the aforementioned actions mentioned herein above in any thirty-day period or more than six times in any twelve-month period. Regarding the violation of any federal or state criminal laws pertaining to the illegal distribution of drugs or drug paraphernalia, the owner/landlord shall use all legal means to evict any tenant convicted of or pleading guilty to the same.
A. 
This article shall be enforced by the Code Enforcement Officer of the Borough of Plymouth.
B. 
If in the judgment of the Code Enforcement Officer it appears that a violation of this article has occurred, the Code Enforcement Officer shall institute enforcement proceedings by sending a violation notice to the owner or landlord. The violation notice shall include, but may not be limited to: name of owner of record and any other person who may be responsible; the address of the property in violation; the specific violation with a description of the requirements which have not been met, citing the applicable sections of this article; the date by which compliance must be completed; that the recipient has 30 days from the date on the notice to appeal the violation notice to the Plymouth Borough Council; that failure to appeal to the Borough Council within the time period specified constitutes an admission of the violation and results in a per se violation of this article and specify the specific action that will be taken for that failure to comply with this notice within the specified time period, unless timely appealed to the Borough Council. The notice shall be sent by regular mail and certified mail restricted delivery, return receipt requested.
C. 
Magisterial District Judges shall have initial jurisdiction over proceedings Borough under Subsection D below.
D. 
Any person, owner or landlord as defined under this article, who has violated or permitted a violation of this article, shall, upon being found liable therefor in a civil enforcement proceeding commenced by Plymouth Borough and/or the Code Enforcement Officer, pay a fine of not less than $400 and not more than $1,000, plus all costs, including filing fees and attorneys' fees incurred by the Borough as a result of said proceedings. Each day that the violation continues shall constitute a separate violation. No judgment shall commence or be imposed, levied or payable until the date of the determination of a violation by the Magisterial District Judge. If the defendant neither pays nor appeals the judgment, the Borough may enforce the judgment pursuant to the applicable rules of civil procedure. All judgments, costs and attorneys' fees collected shall be payable to the Borough.
E. 
The foregoing penalties or actions shall not be construed to limit or deny the right of Plymouth Borough, its agents or representatives from pursuing any other legal or equitable remedy available in accordance with any other applicable law.
F. 
In addition to the penalties set forth in Subsection D above, the Borough shall be entitled to collect all costs and attorneys' fees associated with the collection of any judgment entered by the Magisterial District Judge or any Court.
G. 
No person, owner or landlord will be eligible to obtain a residential license as specified under § 189-5 of this article if there are any outstanding fines, costs or attorneys' fees due the Borough as a result of a violation of this article until the same have been paid in full.
A. 
The filing fee that must accompany any appeal of a violation notice referred to in § 189-7 above is $200. This fee can be amended from time to time by a resolution of the Borough Council.
B. 
Upon receipt of such appeal, the Borough Manager shall schedule a hearing to be held at the next regularly scheduled meeting of Council that is not less than 10 days from the date the appeal is received by the Borough.
C. 
Borough Council shall conduct a hearing on the appeal in accordance with the Local Agency Law, 2 Pa.C.S.A. § 551 et seq. Such decision shall be render by the Borough Council either immediately after the hearing at the public meeting or within 45 days after the hearing at either a regular or special meeting of the Borough Council.
D. 
All notices shall be sent by certified mail return receipt and regular mail. If the certified mail is refused or unclaimed but the regular mail is not returned within 15 days of mailing, service is deemed completed. If service cannot be made by mail, the notice shall be posted on the premises and five days after posting service will be deemed complete.
If any section or provision of this article is adjudicated by a Court of competent jurisdiction to be unlawful, void and unenforceable or invalid all of the remaining sections shall remain in full force and effect.
This article shall become effective immediately upon adoption and all prior ordinances or any parts thereof that are inconsistent herewith are hereby repealed.