[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Commissioners of the Township of Lower Merion 3-18-1981 by Ord. No. 1950. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The Board of Commissioners of the Township of Lower Merion hereby makes the following legislative findings of fact:
In order to protect the health, safety and general welfare of the citizens and inhabitants of the Township of Lower Merion, the Board of Commissioners has adopted a comprehensive Fire Prevention Code as Chapter 78 of this Code and a comprehensive Housing-Property Maintenance Code as Chapter 92 of this Code.
The enforcement of these protective legislative measures has been seriously hampered because the owners of property against whom tenants have filed complaints with the appropriate township authorities, revealing Fire Prevention Code violations or Housing-Property Maintenance Code violations, have developed practices of evicting complaining tenants for these reasons or upon other convenient and spurious pretexts and of withholding services which are required by existing leases or arrangements of tenancy or by law or ordinance from complaining tenants for these reasons or upon other convenient and spurious pretexts.
Fearful of eviction or of the withholding of services, tenants have been hesitant to report violations and have been compelled to live under conditions which are in violation of existing ordinances and which create situations dangerous to the health and safety of the tenants and the entire community.
The provisions of this chapter are necessary to eliminate the aforesaid practices, all for the protection of the public health, safety and welfare.
This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the "Lower Merion Fair Housing Code."
The following words and phrases, as used in this chapter, shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this section, unless the context indicates a different meaning.
- The Director of Inspection Services of the Township of Lower Merion and his duly authorized representatives.
- Any duplex, single-family or multifamily dwelling structure.
- Heat, light, water, quiet enjoyment and any other necessity or convenience to which a tenant of a premises is legally entitled pursuant to an existing lease or arrangement of tenancy or by law or ordinance.
The masculine includes the feminine; the singular includes the plural and the plural includes the singular.
Whenever any premises are found in violation of any provision of the Lower Merion Fire Prevention Code (Chapter 78 of this Code) or of the Lower Merion Housing-Property Maintenance Code (Chapter 92 of this Code) and a notice of violation has been issued by any authorized department or official of the township, it shall be a violation of this chapter for any owner, landlord, agent or other person operating or managing such premises to:
Terminate the lease (the phrase "terminate the lease" shall not mean the expiration of the term of a lease due to the passage of time) with the existing tenant unless the tenant has failed to pay rent, committed waste, engaged in conduct that disturbs other tenants' peaceful enjoyment of the premises or caused the premises to be in violation under any provision of the Lower Merion Code.
Withhold any services from a tenant.
Offer, tender, give, exchange or transfer possession or the right to possession to any person not in possession of the premises upon any terms or conditions until the violation has been corrected.
Make, alter, amend or modify any term, including rent, or condition of any existing lease or arrangement of tenancy with any person in possession of the premises at the time the notice of violation is issued until the violation has been corrected.
Make, alter, amend or modify any term, including rent, or condition of any existing lease or existing arrangement of tenancy with any tenant for a period of one year after correction of any violations where the action against the tenant is intended to collect the cost or value of making any or all of the corrections necessary to comply with the Lower Merion Code and where also any violation has remained uncorrected, whether or not a notice of violation has been given by the Township of Lower Merion, for a period of one year or more prior to the date of correction.
It shall be a violation of this chapter for any owner, landlord, agent or other person operating or managing premises to terminate a lease (the phrase "terminate a lease" shall not mean the expiration of the term of a lease due to the passage of time) with a tenant or to make, alter, amend or modify any term, including rent, or condition of any existing lease or existing arrangement of tenancy with a tenant or to withhold services from a tenant in retaliation for:
The provisions of this section shall not apply to:
Any bona fide transfer of title incident to a sale of the premises, but any subsequent owner, landlord, agent or other person operating or managing such premises shall be subject to the provisions of this chapter.
Any owner, landlord or agent or other person operating or managing any premises against which a notice of violation has been issued who desires to terminate an existing occupancy in order that the premises may be rehabilitated and the violation cured, and the Director issues a certification that such work requires that the premises be vacated.
No provision of this section can be waived or made subject to a contract between the parties depriving a tenant of the benefits of this section.
This chapter shall be enforced by the Director of Inspection Services and by his duly authorized representatives.
[Amended 8-3-1988 by Ord. No. 3104]
Any person, firm or corporation who shall violate any of the provisions of this chapter shall be liable, on conviction thereof, to a fine or penalty not exceeding $600 for each and every offense; and whenever such person, firm or corporation shall have been notified by the Director or his duly authorized representatives by regular, certified or registered mail, verbally or by service of process that he is committing such violation of this chapter, each day that he shall continue such violation after such notification shall constitute a separate offense punishable by a like fine or penalty. Such fines or penalties shall be collected as like fines or penalties are now by law collected.
In addition to the penalty provisions of this chapter, any appropriate action or proceeding, whether in law or in equity, may be instituted or taken by the Township of Lower Merion or by any aggrieved person against any person, firm or corporation who is in violation of or has violated any of the provisions of this chapter in order to cause such violation to cease or to redress such violation.