The Mount Holly Springs Borough Council may consider a proposed ordinance that would establish a rental property inspection program.
Council has scheduled a public presentation on the proposal for 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 24, in the lower-level banquet room of the Holly Inn, 31 S. Baltimore Ave.
The presentation will include a PowerPoint overview of the measure and the work done so far by council’s Health, Safety and Welfare Committee and downtown manager Rebecca Yearick.
The ordinance would set up a program where all 628 rental units within the borough would be inspected over a three-year cycle, committee chairwoman Deborah Halpin-Brophy said.
The borough has been divided into three sections, one for each year in the cycle. The first inspections could occur in January and would involve the borough bringing in a third-party contractor to check one-third of the rental units for such safety features as working smoke detectors and fire extinguishers, Halpin-Brophy said.
She said landlords with properties that fail inspection would have 30 days to correct deficiencies or face a possible enforcement action and penalties. The proposal includes regulations for the issuance and renewal of an occupancy license, which the landlord needs to rent out a unit.
Mount Holly based its draft ordinance on model ordinances “that have passed muster” in other Pennsylvania municipalities such as Hazleton, Halpin-Brophy said. “They have been through the court systems.”
The Mount Holly ordinance would include the establishment of a three-member panel to hear appeals from landlords, she said. “We have to determine who will make up the panel.” Borough solicitor Mark Allshouse is reviewing the language.
Councilwoman Pam Still said the number of rental units within Mount Holly may exceed the 628 already on the borough registry. “There is going to be more going forward,” said Still, adding the inspection cycle may uncover units that have fallen through the cracks. The ordinance would give the borough the legal backing it needs to go after landlords who rent unsafe properties.
Work on the rental inspection program ordinance began after council received complaints from tenants about unsafe living conditions. “We had a tenant fall through a deck,” Still said. “We didn’t have any teeth to deal with those concerns.”
The ordinance would require all landlords to either live within a 30-mile radius of the borough or to have a property manager or agent live within a 30-mile radius. If there is an issue with a property, the borough wants to be able to get hold of the landlord, Still said.