Borough Council proposes changes to rental property ordinance

January 17, 2002

Borough Council proposes changes to rental property ordinance


CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Chambersburg Borough Council members decided Wednesday to shift more of the financial burden of a proposed rental property inspection program onto landlords with code violations.

During a public workshop, council members discussed objections to the proposed program raised by dozens of landlords who attended a public hearing last month.

The ordinance targets only residential rental properties, calling for an inspection by borough code enforcement officers once every three years and an $18 annual fee on each property.


The fee has been the most contested aspect of the proposal.

Councilman Carl Helman suggested lowering the annual fee to $12 but charging $36 for re-inspections if the units were not up to the borough's housing codes.

Any shortfall for covering the cost of the $74,000 program could come from the borough's general fund, he said.

"I'm proposing something weighted to those who are burdening the system," Helman said.

Several other council members agreed.

"I think charging more for reinspections is putting the expense of the program where the heart of the problem is," Councilman Ken Gill said. "It takes some burden off good property owners and shifts it to ones who aren't doing what they should."

Another major point of discussion was the inspection of the Franklin County Housing Authority's 246 units.

The federal government pays for a random inspection of about 48 units annually, but council members did not think a sampling of the units was enough.

After further discussion, most council members agreed to only inspect units at the housing authority that were not inspected within three years by the federal government.

"They will only pay for the units that have to be inspected," Councilman Bob Wareham said.

Council members emphasized the purpose of the inspections is for the safety of local residents, and that the borough cannot make a profit off the program.

"Systematic inspections are needed for one reason only - safety. We're not here to penalize landlords," said Councilman Scott Thomas, who also felt landlords should not be charged at all unless a reinspection is necessary.

The borough staff and solicitor will revise the proposed ordinance and bring it back before council in a few weeks. The public will have the opportunity to address the changes before council ultimately votes on the ordinance.

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