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NEPA Landlord Tenant Homeowner Association Blog

 

 
 

Commentary on issues regarding property rights, this blog relays information on events past, present, and into the future in Northeast PA (USA). While facts are presented, an opinion may be thrown in the mix to make things more interesting. Corrections are welcomed by using the comments -  as long as we see documents to back it up.

As far as the comment part of this blog, we appreciated hearing from people literally all over the world! We generally don't publish the comments though because this is a local blog. Even so, comments published are rare unless they add to the story or a correction is needed and information sent was confirmed. Glad you're enjoying it though! We STILL have some freedoms here and intend to exercise them at will!




Rental inspections vs. Rights

There's nothing more disturbing than government officials breaching your castle...looking for something...anything. If one would ask these same officers, they would feel the same - not MY house! Yet, when municipalities (boroughs/cities/etc) adopt the International Property Maintenance Code, they are bound by the letter of the code which states ALL buildings; business, homeowners - if it's property in that municipality it is subject to invasion. You may deny entrance (and should), telling the officials respectfully to get a warrant and they will return with an Administrative warrant IF they have reasonable cause or it is part of a program for safety. Pennsylvania did not adopt any of the Property Maintenance Codes, but does encourage municipalities to adopt and enforce their own version. And so PA tells the towns that it's okay to have a property code - but do shy away from adoption.

The issue with the state is safety and blight. NEPALTA is a firm believer in safety and strives for excellence with the business of renting. When it comes to inspections, landlords by nature self-inspect because they have a direct interest in maintaining their property values and not subject themselves to lawsuits. Insurance companies increasingly have more strict inspections in order to insure a rental property.

In addition, the Supreme Court Of Pennsylvania ruled that tenants could sue for monetary loss due to the landlord's breach of the "Warranty of Habitability" (Pugh v Holmes) each lease has. Tenants may opt to spend the rent on items that needs fixed (within reason) without ramifications - the courts back them up. They may also call local code enforcement if the landlord does not comply.

And so because the self-inspection process has been working for many years - it is a hard case to argue that the governments NEED to change inspections...unless there are other motives. True, just as there are bad politicians, there are bad landlords but we have yet to see evidence that across the board ordinances help. They do serve to raise the cost of housing hurting the low wage "workers". Associations like NEPALTA may serve to assist landlords behind the curve to provide the tools to improve their buildings and choices of whom they lease to with the benefits package soon to be released.

In the meantime, because the Commonwealth Of Penna. has authorized boroughs to adopt and enforce a form of a property maintenance code (for ALL buildings), NEPALTA has been working with places like Duryea to ensure (a) they are least intrusive to homeowners yet address blatant neglect (tires, junked vehicles, dangerous items of concern, etc), and (b) create a separate "Rental Program" ordinance to address basic concerns of safety while ensuring the primacy of the PA Uniform Construction Code, and the privacy of the tenants once in place.

It's a balance that is workable and Duryea should be applauded for taking the initiative to create an ordinance for the people and by the people.

As it always goes, there are people to the extreme on both sides who either want anarchy or a dictatorship. Our message is to run for political office and modify if not throw out the ordinances. It is your right to do so BECAUSE we don't have anarchy or a dictatorship.

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