Sellersville is considering legal action to get landlords to comply with new rules the borough has put in place to regulate rental properties.
At a March 9 public meeting, borough council authorized the borough solicitor to pursue potential legal recourse against rental unit property owners who have not responded to Sellersville’s attempts to get them to register their properties, provide information about their units, and pay registration fees.
“Of the 225 residential property owners whose properties we’ve identified as being rental units, about 25 have not complied with our requests to register,” said Borough Manager David Rivet. “Borough council has authorized the solicitor to pursue legal action against them.”
Rivet noted that a first step could be to send a warning letter.
Should that not prove sufficient, then the borough could take the fight to court. A borough ordinance governing requirements related to residential units states that violators are subject to a fine of up to $1,000 per violation, plus court costs and attorney fees incurred by Sellersville. Imprisonment of up to 90 days is also on the table.
Borough officials say they don’t want the situation to deteriorate to court battles and fines. Rather, they just want the property owners to comply with the rules.
In August 2019, borough council adopted the ordinance on rental units.
The purpose of the regulations are to “protect and promote the public health, safety and welfare” of Sellersville and its residents, the ordinance states.
In part, the ordinance mandates that owners of residential rental units must register with the borough and allow their properties to undergo periodic inspections by Sellersville.
The inspections, which an outside company would perform on behalf of Sellersville, would occur at a minimum of once every three years.
Significantly, owners will have to obtain rental unit licenses from the borough in order to have occupants. The licenses will only be issued to those passing the rental inspections.
The ordinance also enacts a number of other responsibilities on owners and tenants. For example, owners must keep their premises in good safe, condition; comply with all applicable codes; and be current on payment of things like real estate taxes, water/sewer fees, and trash fees.
Meanwhile, tenants are prohibited from allowing people other than those identified on the lease from residing in their unit.