Harrisburg City Council approves new ordinance for landlords

Harrisburg City Council has approved a new ordinance that will hold landlords responsible for the disruptive behavior of their tenants.

Two disruptive occurrences in a year, as judged by the city's codes officers, and the landlord will lose his or her permit for that property.

Many landlords in the city are upset by the ordinance, but councilwoman Patty Kim, a landlord herself, said it was badly needed. She said there are too many landlords that just want a rent check and are not careful about who they rent to.

“Some of these tenants are so disrespectful to the neighborhood,” Kim said. “They don't care. They can be rowdy, they can be loud and just really annoying.”

Attorney Dave Lanza, who represents the landlords, said the ordinance goes beyond what the city is allowed to do.

“It creates a lot of grey areas,” he said, “areas where the landlord may be having a dispute with his neighbor or tenant, having a legitimate dispute with his neighbor, and the city decides this is the perfect case to do this.”

Lanza said the new ordinance, along with others approved by the city in recent years, is pushing away prospective landlords.

“None of this is working,” he said. “It's only creating more pressure on the good landlords. The bad landlords are avoiding the issue. The good landlords are paying the price.”

Kim disagreed.

“The good landlords who may have come out to protest, this is not about them,” she said. “We appreciate them being good landlords. It does not affect them. It shouldn't. It may inconvenience them, but we live in the city.”

Council approved the measure 7-0. It was brought forward by Mayor Linda Thompson. Her spokesman, Bob Philbin, said the landlords are blowing this out of proportion and that none of the people that were at the meeting Tuesday night should have any worries. He said the city is more concerned about absentee landlords.

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