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Brentwood landlords accountable for tenants

| Thursday, April 25, 2013, 12:33 p.m.

Repeatedly noisy and disruptive tenants in Brentwood will get three strikes before being evicted.

Borough council Tuesday approved a provision to the property registration ordinance that will track disruptive tenants and hold the landlords accountable for violations, said George Zboyovsky, borough manager.

The amendment to the ordinance is part of a series of rules borough council started putting into place last year to crack down on police and code enforcement incidents involving rental properties.

“Other communities have tried this,” Zboyovsky said. “It's not too obtrusive, I think.”

In November, council approved two ordinances — one for rental properties and landlord registration and another that addresses blight reduction. Those ordinances are meant to hold landlords more accountable and improve aesthetics of all properties, Zboyovsky said.

The property registration ordinance requires landlords to have each property inspected every five years to ensure maintenance of the borough code, Zboyovsky said. In exchange, landlords get a rental license.

Tenants waste borough resources and tax dollars when police and code enforcement are repeatedly called to the same locations, many of which are rental properties, Zboyovsky said.

“It seems like there is a pattern going on,” Zboyovsky said.

The three-strike ordinance works like this: Tenants will be tracked by citations they receive. If they get three, the landlord must evict them or risk losing the rental license with the borough and a citation that comes with a $300 to $500 penalty, Zboyovsky said.

“Ninety percent of landlords have been very cooperative with this,” Zboyovsky said. “They just want to be permitted to do business in the borough.”

Zboyovsky modeled the ordinance after others in Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, he said. The ordinance is very careful in counting strikes against tenants only when he or she has been cited, not based on neighbor complaints.

“We didn't want neighbors going after neighbors,” Zboyovsky said.

Laura Van Wert is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5814 or at lvanwert@tribweb.com.

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