Mt. Lebanon Commissioners now have a new version of a proposed ordinance that would provide for the inspection of rental units in the Municipality. Since it is so different from the one that was originally introduced, Commissioners will re-introduce the ordinance at the March 25 meeting at 8 p.m. in Commission Chambers in the Municipal Building, 710 Washington Road, with a public hearing likely for April 9.
Here is the text of the proposed ordinance:
Bill No. _________________
By Commissioner: ________
MT. LEBANON, PENNSYLVANIA
ORDINANCE NO. XXXXX
An ordinance amending Chapter VII Health and Safety of the Mt. Lebanon Code, by adding Part 6 Residential Rental Properties. Regulating Residential Unit Occupancy and Providing for Registration, Inspections and Penalties for Noncompliance.
WHEREAS, Mt. Lebanon currently has various code provisions that require property owners to properly maintain the conditions of property; and,
WHEREAS, the Mt. Lebanon Commission desires to amend these provisions to include and require regular maintenance of residential rental properties to protect and promote the health, safety and welfare of the residents that reside within residential rental housing units/rooming units within the Municipality; and
WHEREAS, the Commission declares the following to be the purposes of this Ordinance:
- To promote, protect and facilitate the public health, safety and the general welfare of the community and to protect and to promote the safety of residential tenants and other inhabitants in the Municipality from fire and other preventable hazards.
- To prevent one or more of the following: loss of health, life or property from fire, explosions, noxious gases and other dangers or hazards.
- To provide protection against fire, explosion and other hazards in the interest of the public health, safety, and general welfare.
- To help ensure a basic level of habitability in all rental units, not just those owned by responsible landlords.
- To define and limit the powers and duties of those officers and bodies that are assigned responsibilities under this ordinance.
- To require prompt safety inspections even without a warrant if emergency conditions exist.
NOW, THEREFORE, Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania hereby ordains as follows:
Section 1. Chapter VII (Health and Safety) of the Mt. Lebanon Code shall be amended to add the following new Part 6 (new language is underlined).
Part 6 – Residential Rental Dwellings
§601.1 Title. These regulations shall be known as the Landlord Regulation Ordinance.
§601.2 Scope. The provisions of this Part shall apply to all Regulated Residential Units in the Municipality which are leased, rented, or otherwise occupied by persons or entities who do not own the premises, and to all persons and/or entities which own, lease, and otherwise rent residential properties in the Municipality as specified herein. This Part is not intended, nor shall its effect be, to limit any other enforcement remedies which may be available to the Municipality.
Unless otherwise expressly stated, the following terms shall, for the purposes of this Part, have the following meanings.
§602.1 Code – Any statute, ordinance, or law adopted, enacted, and/or in effect in and for the Municipality concerning fitness for habitation or the construction, maintenance, operation, occupancy, use or appearance of any Premises or Dwelling Unit.
§602.2 Code Enforcement Officer – Any duly authorized representative of the Municipality, including but not limited to the Municipal Code Enforcement Officer and those authorized by the Commission or the Manager of the Municipality to enforce the provisions contained herein.
§602.3 Common Area – In Multiple Unit Dwellings, space which is not part of a Regulated Rental Unit and which is shared with other Occupants of the Dwelling whether they reside in Regulated Dwelling Units or not. Common Areas shall be considered as part of the Premises for purposes of this Ordinance.
§602.4 Dwelling – A building having one or more Dwelling Units.
§602.5 Dwelling Unit – A room or group of rooms within a Dwelling and forming a single unit and used for living and sleeping purposes.
§602.6 Landlord – One or more Persons, jointly or severally, in whom is vested all or part of the legal title to the Premises, or all or part of the beneficial ownership and a right to present use and enjoyment of the Premises, including a mortgage holder in possession of a Regulated Rental Unit. (Same as Owner).
§602.7 Municipality – Mt. Lebanon, PA, a home rule municipality.
§602.8 Multiple-Unit Dwelling – A building containing two (2) or more independent Dwelling Units, including, but not limited to, double houses, row houses, townhouses, condominiums, apartment houses, and conversion apartments.
§602.9 Occupancy License – The License issued to the Owner of Regulated Rental units under this Part, which is required for the lawful rental and occupancy of Regulated Rental Units.
§602.10 Occupant – An individual who resides in a Regulated Rental Unit, whether or not he or she is the Owner thereof, with whom a legal relationship with the Owner/Landlord is established by a lease or by the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
§602.11 Owner – One or more Persons, jointly or severally, in whom is vested all or part of the legal title to the Premises, or all or part of the beneficial Ownership and a right to present use and enjoyment of the Premises, including a mortgage holder in possession of a Regulated Rental Unit.
§602.12 Owner-Occupied Dwelling Unit – A Dwelling Unit in which the Owner resides on a regular, permanent basis.
§602.13 Person – A natural person, partnership, corporation, unincorporated entity, association, limited partnership, trust, or any other entity.
§602.14 Premises – Any parcel or real property in the Municipality, including the land and all buildings and appurtenant structures or appurtenant elements, upon which on or more Regulated Rental Units is located.
§602.15 Regulated Rental Unit – A Dwelling Unit occupied by any Person under a Rental Agreement, but not including a detached single family dwelling.
§602.16 Rental Agreement – An agreement between Owner/Landlord and Occupant/Tenant embodying the terms and conditions concerning the use and occupancy of a specified Regulated Rental Unit or Premises.
§602.17 Tenant – An individual who resides in a Regulated Rental Unit, whether or not he or she is the Owner thereof with whom a legal relationship with the Owner/Landlord is established by a written lease or by the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. (Same as Occupant).
§602.18 Terms Not Defined – Where terms are not defined through the methods authorized by this Section, such terms shall have ordinarily accepted meanings such as the context implies.
§603 Interior of Dwelling. The interior of a structure and equipment therein shall be maintained in good repair, structurally sound and in a sanitary condition by the Owner in accordance with this Section.
§603.1 Interior Surfaces. All interior surfaces including windows and doors shall be maintained in good condition. Peeling, chipping, flaking paint shall be repaired or covered. Cracked loose plaster/drywall and any other defective surfaces shall be corrected.
§603.2 Windows. Every window and supporting frame shall be weather tight and free of broken glass or other defects such as loose or missing calking and peeling paint.
§603.3 Bathrooms. Every bathroom shall have either mechanical ventilation or an operable window. Fixtures, lavatory, tub or shower shall be functional and without leaks.
§603.4 Water Supply System. Every water system shall be installed and maintained to supply all fixtures, devices and appurtenances within the dwelling unit.
§603.5 Water Heating. Water heating devices shall be capable of providing a minimum temperature of 110° Fahrenheit. Pressure relief valves shall be provided with a discharge pipe to within 6” of the floor.
§603.6 Electrical. All electrical outlets, switches and lighting fixtures shall be in proper working order and covered.
§603.7 Smoke Alarms. All units shall have single or multiple station smoke alarms installed on the wall or ceiling outside of each of each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of bedrooms, and in each room used for sleeping purposes.
§603.8 Heating. All dwelling units and habitable rooms shall be provided with heating facilities capable of maintaining a room temperature of 68° Fahrenheit during the period of October 1st to May 31st.
§603.9 Handrails and Guards. All stairs with four or more risers shall have a handrail on one side and securely fastened and capable of supporting normally imposed loads and be maintained in good condition.
No person shall rent or lease a Regulated Rental Unit in Mt. Lebanon to any tenant unless the Lessor holds a current, unrevoked safety rental operating license issued by the Code Enforcement Officer for the Regulated Rental Unit pursuant to this Ordinance.
§605 Application for License
Every Owner who rents or leases any Regulated Rental Unit in the Municipality of Mt. Lebanon to any tenant for a period of time in excess of thirty (30) days shall apply for a rental operating license in accordance with Section 606.3. The application form shall be accompanied by a check or money order payable to “Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania” in the amount specified pursuant to Section 610.
Upon application, all Regulated Rental Units, once every three (3) years as set forth in Section 606, shall be inspected by the Code Enforcement Officer for compliance with the provisions of this Ordinance. In the event the Code Enforcement Officer refuses to issue an operating license, the Code Enforcement Officer shall note all violations and shall leave with the owner, landlord, manager or agent for an owner, and tenant, a copy of any notice of violation.
Prior to the issuance of a rental operating license, all violations noted on a notice of violation shall be corrected, as required. Every rental operating license shall be issued for a period of three (3) years, unless sooner revoked.
§606.1 The Municipality shall be divided into districts for purposes of the license and inspection requirements of this Ordinance as follows:
 District I.
 District II.
 District III.
§606.2 The district boundaries shall be as determined from time to time by resolution of the Commission.
§606.3 Residential rental units subject to the license and inspection requirements of this article and located in District I shall be licensed and inspected during the first calendar year after the year in which this article shall become effective and every third year thereafter. Residential rental units subject to the license and inspection requirements of this article and located in District II shall be licensed and inspected during the second calendar year subsequent to the calendar year in which this article shall become effective and every third year thereafter. Residential rental units subject to the license and inspection requirements of this article and located in District III shall be licensed and inspected during the third calendar year subsequent to the calendar year in which this article shall become effective and every third year thereafter.
The following regulations are hereby adopted for the issuance of rental operating licenses.
§607.1 Inspection Mandatory. The Code Enforcement Officer shall not issue a rental operating license until he or she has first inspected the dwelling unit or rooming unit for the purpose of insuring compliance with this Ordinance and the law.
§607.2 Inspections to Be Conducted at Reasonable Times with Prior Notice to Residents; Display of Proper Credentials Required. All inspections under this Ordinance shall be conducted at reasonable times with prior notice to the applicant, owner, landlord, manager, tenant, or agent for the owner and subject to constitutional restrictions on unreasonable searches and seizures. Prior to seeking entry to conduct an inspection, the Code Enforcement Officer shall display proper credentials which shall have been approved by the Commission.
§607.3 Procedure if Entry to Permit Lawful Inspection Is Refused. If entry is not obtained or upon the refusal of an applicant, owner, landlord, manager, tenant, or agent for an owner applying for a rental operating license to permit entry to conduct the inspection mandated under this Ordinance, the inspection shall not be conducted and the Code Enforcement Officer is hereby authorized to pursue recourse as provided by law and Section 608.
§607.4 Expiration of Permits and Renewals. Each rental operating license shall expire three (3) years after the date of issuance. A license may be renewed only by making application as provided in this Ordinance. Applications for renewal should be made at least thirty (30) days prior to the expiration date and, when made fewer than thirty (30) days before the expiration date, the pendency of the application will not prevent the expiration of the license.
§607.5 Correction of Violations Required Prior to Renewal of License. If the Code Enforcement Officer denies renewal of a license, the applicant, owner, landlord, manager or agent for an owner shall not be issued a license until all violations noted on the notice of violation are corrected, as required.
§607.6 Non-resident Applicants. No rental operating license shall be issued or renewed to a non-resident applicant unless such applicant designates in writing to the Code Enforcement Officer, the name of his agent for receipt of service of any notice of violation and for service of process.
- If entry to conduct an inspection under this Ordinance is refused, the Code Enforcement Officer is hereby authorized to apply to an Issuing Authority having jurisdiction over such rental unit for an Administrative Search Warrant to enter and to conduct an inspection unless an emergency situation exists which requires immediate entry.
- If an emergency situation exists demanding immediate access to the rental unit, the Code Enforcement Officer may conduct a prompt safety inspection even if entry is refused or even if an administrative search warrant is not obtained.
- If a required inspection does not take place, no criminal penalties will attach.
§609.1 A fee of Sixty Dollars ($65.00) for the initial inspection and one re-inspection and Twenty-five ($25.00) for each and every reinspection each time a reinspection is required to determine compliance with this Ordinance.
§609.2 Where multiple Residential Dwelling Units are owned by the same Landlord and are inspected in the same day, the inspection fee for each unit after the first shall be [ $15 ].
§609.3 The Commission shall be empowered to re-evaluate the required fee amounts from time to time to make necessary alterations to it. Such alterations shall not be considered an amendment to this Part, and may be adopted at any public meeting by resolution.
§610 Forms: The Municipality shall establish the applications, inspection checklists and compliance letters for the operation and enforcement of this Part 6.
§611 Exceptions. The following categories of rental properties shall not require registration, and shall not, therefore, be subject to the permitting provision of this Part: (a) senior citizen retirement and assisted living facilities duly licensed and complying with the laws and regulations of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania with respect to such facilities; (b) convents and parish houses; (c) dormitory housing provided by educational institutions; (d) housing provided by fire companies to its members; (e) group homes providing medical and related care for persons with disabilities; (f) Hotels (as defined in the Zoning Ordinance).
§612 Owner Severally Responsible – If any Regulated Rental Unit is owned by more than one Person, in any form of joint tenancy, as a partnership, or otherwise, each Person shall be jointly and severally responsible for the duties imposed under the terms of this Ordinance, and shall be severally subject to prosecution for the violation of this Ordinance.
§613 Nonliability of Municipality
The issuance of a license is not a representation by the Municipality that the Regulated Rental Unit and/or the building in which it is located is in compliance with any fire prevention, building, mechanical, electrical, plumbing or similar codes. The issuance of a license indicates that the Regulated Rental Unit did not have any dangerous conditions as of the date of the inspection. However, neither the enactment of this article nor the issuance of a license shall impose any liability upon the Municipality for any errors or omissions which resulted in the issuance of such license, nor shall the Municipality bear any liability not otherwise imposed by law.
The owner of a Regulated Rental Unit aggrieved by a decision of the Code Enforcement Officer or designee relating to Section 603 may, within 30 days or the time fixed for repair, whichever is shorter, appeal the decision to the Board of Appeals (as set forth in the Administrative Code). Any other decision of the Code Enforcement Officer may be appealed to the Commission within thirty (30) days of the decision.
ORDAINED AND ENACTED into an Ordinance and passed by the Commission of Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania, on this _______________ day of _________________, 2013.
MT. LEBANON, PENNSYLVANIA
Mt. Lebanon Commission