Code officer pushes for inspections on rentals in city
SHAMOKIN - The city's code officer has asked that council members amend the landlord-tenant ordinance to allow for inspections of rental properties.
Rick Bozza has been advocating for such a provision since at least spring 2012. The first reading of an inspection amendment was adopted by city council in January 2013.
Rather than on an annual basis, the proposal called for inspections whenever occupancy turned over, be it 10 months or 10 years. A passing grade would have been necessary for the rental unit to be offered to a new tenant. The base cost of the inspections was proposed at $50.
It was met with both resistance and acceptance of city landlords who spoke at a public meeting. Supporters said it would protect landlords and tenants in the event of damages, and also ensure properties were maintained. Opponents believed the costs to be a cash grab and that the inspections unfairly targeted only landlords and not all property owners.
A vote on a second and final reading amending the landlord-tenant ordinance never came to pass and the topic disappeared from council's public meetings.
Bozza continued to mull over the benefits of such an amendment. With city leadership having changed with the new year, he has again proposed it be adopted. He said he has an inspection checklist completed that is tailored to the requirements of the International Property Maintenance Code, and licenses have long ago been printed.
He'll share his original proposal with new solicitor Frank Konopka, who he hopes will review it to close any potential loopholes. After that, he said all that needs to be done is for the new city council to review it themselves and adopt it.
"I would like to get this up and running ASAP, not only for the revenue but there's a lot of issues with these landlords that needs to stop," Bozza told council members during a workshop session on Wednesday. "I can't do it without some kind of special process to get in these buildings."
The existing landlord-tenant ordinance requires that landlords register rental units at $25 each annually. They must also register the names of tenants at City Hall and update that list with each turnover.
In January 2013, Bozza said there were 210 landlords and 760 units registered, although he suspected there were many more under the radar.