House Inspection Plans for Rentals Reconsidered by Town Officials- By: John Cutts
Officials from the Nether Providence, Pennsylvania Township are reconsidering their plan to implement a yearly house inspection of rental properties in the area and charge landlords for these inspections. In a residential property code ordinance revised and approved last June by the Board of Commissioners, the annual rental property inspections will cost landlords $125 for every 40 units, with additional $25 for rental units beyond the minimum number of 40.
According to town officials, the property inspections are needed to make sure that rental homes in the area are safe and habitable. However, a number of town landlords have opposed the proposed inspection and the fees that go with it. They argued that the fees are too high and need to be reduced or abolished altogether. Some have even questioned the need to charge fees for the property inspections.
Other landlords have stated that they support the ordinance, but they do not agree with the proposed fees and the frequency of the inspection. They added that a maximum fee of $70 is sufficient enough to support the house inspection plan. Sources from the Board have reported that the ordinance was unanimously approved by members, except for Commissioner Matthew Sullivan who owns a rental property and who allegedly abstained.
Officials from the Board have asserted that public comments were considered during the deliberation. They revealed that the initial recommended fee was $200 but was later decreased to $125 for every unit after members of the commission listened to landlords' take on the issue. Some members of the Board have suggested forming a committee that will look at ways by which the ordinance can be revised.
Forming an advisory committee that will act as liaison between the landlords and town officials has also been recommended. This was supported by board members during the October 14 meeting and members for the committee were also chosen. As for the inspection fee, the Board has decided to put it on hold until the issue has been re-examined.
One part of the house inspection ordinance that remained intact was the provision requiring landlords to register all their rental properties by October 31. Failure to do so would merit a fine. As of October 14, township officials reported that 125 rental housing units have already been registered.
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John Cutts has been educated in the finer points of the foreclosure market over 5 years.