Sellersville is moving forward with plans to inspect residential rental properties in the Upper Bucks County borough.
On Monday (July 9), borough council authorized the public advertising of an ordinance that would green-light the inspections. Public advertising is a mandated step in the ordinance approval process, which could culminate at council’s Aug. 12 meeting with council voting whether or not to put the ordinance on the books. The public can attend the meeting.
Officials and volunteers in Sellersville have been working on the ordinance for about 2½ years.
“The rental property inspection ordinance was prompted by discussion from the borough’s Revitalization Committee, which believed that certain landlords were not properly caring for their rental properties,” said Borough Manager David Rivet.
Under the ordinance, the borough would be empowered to perform periodic inspections of rental properties, Rivet said. Inspections, which an outside company would perform for the borough, would occur at a minimum of once every three years, beginning in 2020. Relatedly, owners would have to obtain rental unit licenses from the borough in order to have occupants. The licenses would only be issued to those passing inspection.
“Additionally, owners who live farther than 30 miles away would have to retain a property manager who is within the 30-mile distance,” said Rivet.
If enacted, the ordinance would require owners to ensure only one family resides in each residential unit. “A group of six or more persons who are not within the second degree of kinship shall not be deemed to constitute a family,” the ordinance says.
The ordinance would place a number of other responsibilities on owners and tenants, too. For instance, owners would be required to 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 would be prohibited from allowing people other than those identified on the lease from residing in their unit. Tenants would also be obligated to “conduct themselves in a manner that will not disturb the peaceful enjoyment of the premises by others and that will not disturb the peaceful enjoyment of occupants of adjacent or nearby dwellings,” the ordinance states.
Violating the ordinance’s rules could result in fines of up to $1,000, plus court costs and attorney fees incurred by Sellersville. Violations could also be punished by up to 90 days in jail.
The purpose of the regulations is to “protect and promote the public health, safety and welfare” of Sellersville and its residents, the ordinance states.