CURWENSVILLE – The Curwensville Borough Council meeting room was crowded with citizens Monday night for the committee meeting to protest the proposed rental property registration ordinance.
Council proposed the ordinance in order to combat landlords who do not maintain their rental properties; however, those landlords present accused the council of targeting all landlords and creating an ordinance that would result in law-abiding landlords being fined if they are not able to keep up with property maintenance.
According to a previous article on GANT News, portions of the ordinance include properties being in safe condition with taxes and utilities paid, and the owners must register and maintain a license for each property as well as notify the borough of any occupied and unoccupied units.
Basic requirements include: interior and exterior structure, handrails and guiderails, rubbish and garbage, pest elimination, lighting and ventilation, plumbing and water, heating and electrical, safe means of egress and smoke alarms and fire extinguishers, based on the 2009 International Property Maintenance Code.
The ordinance also outlines responsibilities of tenants and circumstances under which the code enforcement officer may enter and inspect a unit.
During the meeting, it quickly became apparent that the residents were under the impression that the ordinance was a done deal and that council was going to vote on it at the meeting, which was not the case with it being a committee meeting.
The first to speak was Darlene Wriglesworth, who said she and her husband have been landlords for 50 years and have been hard-working and law-abiding, but the strictures of the ordinance would make being a landlord impossible in Curwensville, with prohibitive fines and possible jail time.
Another landlord complained that no other municipality in the area has such a restrictive ordinance, except for Philipsburg, and it is even less restrictive than Curwensville’s.
Resident Duane Wriglesworth also said he did research on local municipalities and none have such ordinances. He said DuBois formed a committee with council members and landlords and explored the possibility and discovered that the majority of their landlords are good and an ordinance of this type would do little.
Others agreed, stating that the fines will only punish those who are already trying to do the right thing, and those that already don’t follow the law will continue to ignore them.
It was noted that prior to the drafting of the ordinance, council members had said they would seek the input of landlords, but that wasn’t done.
Businessman and landlord Danny Russell spoke and said that he understands what the council is trying to do and it’s right, but the landlords protesting the ordinance are also right. He suggested getting some people together and working together to draft an ordinance that everyone can live with.
After more discussion, council gathered a list of names of those willing to meet with council to further discuss the matter.