CURWENSVILLE – The much-debated rental property ordinance in Curwensville has passed by a vote of 4-1.
At Monday’s meeting, the Curwensville Borough Council voted to pass the ordinance. Council members Sarah Curulla, Tom Carfley, Harriet Carfley and Robert Moore voted in favor of the ordinance, while Rhonda Carfley voted against. Council member Dave Donahue was not present at the meeting.
Prior to the vote, Landlord Duane Wriglesworth said he disagrees with the ordinance. He held up a copy of the International Construction Code Book and said the book contains a lot of information for landlords.
However, Wriglesworth said the codes can also mean a lot of work the landlords would have to do. He referred to page 9 of the ordinance.
He said the ordinance imposes a fine of $1,000 per month until a violation is addressed. Wriglesworth said depending on the type of work that needs to be done, it could take several months for certain types of repairs to be completed.
“How will you (the borough) afford all the bookwork,” Wriglesworth asked. “Who’s going to send all the letters? How will you pay for all the expenses? Are you going to hire another secretary?”
Wriglesworth also said that he feels the borough is giving the code enforcement officer “too much power.”
“If you get a code person who doesn’t like someone, they could run them (the landlord) out of business,” Wriglesworth said. He also said that the ordinance should have gone through the planning commission.
Curulla responded by saying the planning commission cancelled its last three meetings. Mayor John Adams said the meetings were cancelled because there was nothing on the agenda.
Tom Carfley made a motion to approve the ordinance. However, Rhonda Carfley said she had a few concerns.
Rhonda Carfley said the “meat” of the ordinance is alright, but there were sections, which could use a bit more work.
“We haven’t looked at what all needs to be done to implement this,” Rhonda Carfley said. “We don’t want this to blow up in our faces.”
The council then voted to approve the ordinance. Tom Carfley said the ordinance wasn’t pushing anything that wasn’t already in the codes and that he won’t be coming unless there’s a complaint.
According to previously-published GANT News articles, the landlords of the borough have been divided about the ordinance. Some landlords feel the ordinance is “too invasive” while others feel it’s necessary.
According to previous articles, the new ordinance will take effect Jan 1, 2020.
The council has made several changes to the ordinance, based on discussions with landlords. They have made the registration fee $25 per unit, instead of $100 per building.
They removed any references to jail time, and changed the word “license” to “permit.” Inspections will be based on an as-needed basis or if there’s a complaint filed, instead of annually and a more detailed checklist for inspections has been put together.
The council has also removed the “vacant property” section and will have a separate ordinance to deal with vacant and foreclosed properties. The council also lowered the fines in the “violations and penalties” section.
According to the updated ordinance, landlords must keep and maintain all units in compliance with all applicable codes, ordinances and provisions of all applicable local and state laws and regulations, including but not limited to the Property Maintenance Codes of the Borough of Curwensville.
Landlords must register each property. Landlords must obtain and maintain a permit for each unit, and failure to register will result in a $300 fine.
No registration or permit can be transferred unless the new operator shall give notice in writing to the code official within 10 days after the transfer, in any manner, of ownership or control of the interest in the property.
The fee for transferring a registration and or permit shall be $25 per unit and shall be paid at the sale or transfer of title. An additional $50 per unit shall be due should the $25 per unit transfer fee not be paid upon sale or transfer of title.
The ordinance outlines the inspection process and the steps a landlord can take if they wish to appeal any violations, as well as penalties and remedies for violations.
A full copy of the ordinance can be found at https://curwensvilleborough.com/.