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Council approves rental ordinance

March 13, 2002|BY STACEY DANZUSO

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Four years after it was first proposed, the Chambersburg Borough Council approved a rental property inspection ordinance Tuesday.

"This is a living document, subject to review, subject to amendment," Council President Bill McLaughlin said. "This is four years worth of work, let's see how it goes."

The final ordinance is a give-and-take between the borough and landlords.

The ordinance requires all rental units to be inspected once every three years.

Property owners can either pay a $10 annual fee to the borough or pay an independent contractor to do the inspection. Landlords who opt for private inspections must pay the borough a $6 fee for a certificate of compliance once every three years.

Certificates can cover an individual unit or a group of units.

Council members added a two-tiered fee for re-inspections to the ordinance that charges landlords $20 for the first re-inspection if there are five or fewer property code violations and $35 if there are more than five violations.

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Councilman Ken Gill questioned whether two working days would be enough time for the inspectors to file their paperwork, as the ordinance stipulates.

Other council members agreed that could pose a problem but were reluctant to make any further changes Tuesday.

"We should pass it as it is and get a report back from the inspectors," Councilman Robert Wareham said.

"Two working days is adequate. If we find there are operational problems, we can look at it within a couple of months," McLaughlin said.

After tweaking the proposed ordinance for months, McLaughlin said the time had come for a vote.

"My feeling is there needs to be something done as far as inspections to safeguard the health and safety of tenants," he said.

Nine council members voted for the ordinance and Councilman John Redding Jr., who owns some rental property in the borough, abstained.

The program originally was designed to be self-sufficient, covering the costs of two borough code inspectors with the fees it charged for annual rentals.

But by opening it up to independent contractors and lowering the annual fee, the borough is uncertain if it will recoup the $70,000 program cost or if it will have to pull money from the general fund to support it.

The ordinance goes into effect immediately.

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