Passed unanimously by Harrisburg City Council on November 13, 2012, Bill 12-2012: Disruptive Properties Bill aims to address issues of code violations and “disruptive conduct” of residential rental units within city limits.
Overall, what this Bill does is lay out a procedure for the City’s law enforcement officers to maintain a record of violations of renters. What constitutes a violation is a citation issued by a codes enforcement officer or the police that results in a guilty verdict by a judge or a guilty plea. In order to be cited in the first place, occupants must have been noted to breach an established City ordinance or law such as noise, trash, firearms, prostitution, drug dealing, animal neglect, and issues that fall within the City’s Property Maintenance Code.
Such “disruptive conduct” will be compiled into a report maintained by the Bureau of Codes. If a Disruptive Conduct Report is issued twice in twelve months, the City will revoke a property owner’s Residential Rental Permit. The owner then has 15 days to begin eviction proceedings, and if the owner fails to do this, the property can be determined to be “Unfit for Human Occupation.”
Another component of the Bill is the City’s authority to fix a cited Property Maintenance Code violation if the property owner fails to do so within the designated time. If the City does make the repair, then the City can pass on the cost of repair to the owner along with a 10% additional charge.
Several elements of Harrisburg’s new Disruptive Properties Bill work in conjunction with the State’s Neighborhood Blight Reclamation and Revitalization Bill enacted in April of 2011. The State bill was designed to give municipalities greater authority to confront blight and neglected properties by revoking permits and seeking legal action against property owners found to be in significant code violation.
The City of Harrisburg joins Reading and Bethlehem in enacting this type of bill. Harrisburg’s goes into effect on December 4, 2012.