Action Center: Northeast Region
The action center is where information about legislative actions around the country are gathered and posted for the benefit of all members. If you have any information to add here to the Northeast Region (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Washington DC, Ohio, West Virginia), e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
ACLU Challenges Pennsylvania Town's Eviction OrdinanceNorristown, PA instituted an ordinance requiring eviction of a tenant when police respond to three disorderly contact calls within any four month period. Failure of action by a landlord originally would result in loss of one's rental license. An updated ordinance adopted in December 2012 changed the penalty to a substantial fine. The ACLU has filed a lawsuite challenging the constitutionality of this ordinance on behalf of a tenant who was a victim of domestic violence. Click here for the full story.
Rent Control Bill Considered by Maryland State LegislatureHB315 currently before the Maryland legislature would put onerous restrictions on landlords. It would create statewide rent control, prohibiting rents from increasing more than 5% annually. It also would equate nonrenewal of a lease to eviction. The bill would also prohibit a lease from requiring a tenant to carry renter's insurance with the landlord named as beneficiary. You can read the full bill and follow its progress here.
Legislation Considered by Pennsylvania General AssemblySeveral bills currently before the Pennsylvania General Assembly have property managment implications. Among them are SB48/PN17 which expands the definition of relinquishing possession to include situations where a resident vacates, abandons, and surrenders the premises without notice or forwarding address, giving landlords additional rights to abandoned property; SB315/PN226 which would require landlords to disclose the flood history of a property to prospectice tenants; SB193/PN199 which would shorten the timings for evictions to 7 days from the date of the complaint and the appeal to 5 days; and SB217/PN221 which would require 24-hour monitored security for any properties with more than 26 units. Additionally, a representative has announced intentions to file a bill that would allow elderly and disabled indivuals to terminate leases without penalty with 60 days notice for certain medical cirumstances.
Ruling in Pennsylvania Rental Ordinance CaseA court in Pennsylvania recently ruled in favor of the Borough of Berwick and against the Landlord Association and upheld Berwick's ordinance requiring landlords to show certain supervision over tenants. The burdensome requirements in the ordinance include having a list of names of all tenants and requiring landlords to give notice of and "take steps to remedy and prevent" future disruptive acts by the tenant. This case could startling implications if other localities begin to adopt similar ordinances. Click here for court documents.
Pennsylvania Abandoned Property ActOn July 5, 2012, Governor Corbett signed the Abandoned Property Bill (Act 129 of 2012) into law. The bill amends The Landlord and Tenant Act by adding a section requiring tenants to remove personal property from the premises at the time they relinquish possession of the property, providing for the disposal of abandoned property by landlords, requiring certain notices to be given in connection with the disposal of abandoned property, and allowing landlords to charge storage costs in certain situations. Read the text of the law here.
Pennsylvania Rental RegistrationPennsylvania State Representative Kevin Boyle has introduced HB2555 which would require mandatory registration of all landlords and rental properties by local municipalities at an annual fee of up to $125. Read the full text of the bill and follow its progress through the state legislature here.
Strict Liability Adopted In Respect To Attacks by Pit Bulls/Pit Bull Crossed Dogs
The Court of Appeals of Maryland recently ruled in Tracey v. Solesky (No. 53, September Term 2011) that upon a plaintiff’s sufficient proof that a dog involved in an attack is a pit bull or a pit bull cross, and that the owner, or other person(s) who has the right to control the pit bull’s presence on the subject premises (including a landlord who has a right to prohibit such dogs on leased premises) knows, or has reason to know, that the dog is a pit bull or cross-bred pit bull, that person is liable for the damages caused to a plaintiff who is attacked by the dog on or from the owner’s or lessor’s premises. In that case a plaintiff has established a prima facie case of negligence. When an attack involves pit bulls, it is no longer necessary to prove that the particular pit bull or pit bulls are dangerous.
Pottstown Rental Rules Pass Over Landlord Objections
In the face of impassioned comment from both sides of the issue, Borough Council of Pottstown, Pennsylvania, Tuesday unanimously adopted new rental rules which some say are a long overdue measure to get poorly maintained rental properties under control. Landlords argue the rules could drive all the "good" landlords out of town. The new provisions require certain lease addendums which limit the number of people in a rental residence and require tenants to prevent "disruptive conduct," which can permit the landlord to "immediately terminate the lease." Read the full story from The Mercury.
Illegal Immigration Relief Act
A federal appeals court ruled Thursday that Hazleton, Pa., may not enforce its crackdown on illegal immigrants, dealing another blow to four-year-old regulations that inspired similar measures around the country. The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia said that Hazleton's Illegal Immigration Relief Act usurped the federal government's exclusive power to regulate immigration. The northeastern Pennsylvania city had sought to fine landlords who rent to illegal immigrants and deny business permits to companies that give them jobs. A companion measure required prospective tenants to register with City Hall and pay for a rental permit. Read the full article from the Washington Times.
New Radon Requirements in Maine
The State of Maine has passed a law requiring landlords to test all rental properties for radon. In addition, a written disclosure statement must be given to each tenant, informing them of the risks of radon exposure. Those risks include lung cancer. A sample disclosure statement is provided on the Maine Department of Health and Human Services website. The tenant will have to sign an acknowledgment that they have received this disclosure. This new law requires radon testing in all residential rental properties by the year 2012. Read the full article from the American Apartment Owners Association.
Proposal to Hold Landlord Responsible for Tenant Actions
CHAMBERSBURG, PA -- Despite recommendations from staff, Chambersburg's mayor wants to consider an ordinance that would hold landlords responsible for tenant behavior.
View full article from Public Opinion News