By JENNIFER FITCH
10:10 PM EST, January 31, 2013
A program that would mandate routine inspections of rental units in the Borough of Waynesboro could get fast-tracked Feb. 6 after spending years in development.
The proposed rental inspection ordinance would require landlords to register rental units. It would require inspections of those units by the municipality’s code enforcement officer every year, every three years or every five years depending on past performance.
Included in the inspections would be evaluations of structural integrity, heating and plumbing systems, and weatherproofing. Smoke detectors would be required in or near bedrooms.
Property owners who live more than 15 miles from the borough limits would be required to have a local manager or someone who is responsible for the unit. However, units with strong performance in inspections could be exempt from that requirement, according to the proposal.
The rental inspection program has been discussed for more than four years and has generated mixed opinions on its value. The Waynesboro Borough Council formed a committee of landlords, real estate agents, tenants and community leaders to draft an ordinance.
Councilman Craig Newcomer is a proponent of the proposed program. He said the idea formed after a landlord evicted a tenant who called Code Enforcement Officer Dan Sheffler about a dangerous electrical system.
Currently, Sheffler cannot inspect issues without receiving a complaint, possibly getting the tenant in trouble, which is what happened to that person, Newcomer said.
Still, the program is designed to not be burdensome for good landlords, he said.
“We don’t want to penalize people who are doing the right things,” Newcomer said.
At the 7:30 p.m. meeting on Feb. 6, the borough council will decide whether to proceed with the program or let it die, Newcomer said.
“It’s been on the table for so long,” he said.
Potential fees associated with permits have not been established, according to Newcomer.
Borough officials estimate the municipality has more than 2,000 rental units.
To read the proposed ordinance, visit www.waynesboropa.org.
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