The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

January 8, 2013

Council ready to raise rental inspection fee

By Tom Davidson
Herald Staff Writer

SHARON — With 1,328 rental properties in housing stock, much of which has decayed in recent decades, Sharon officials have their work cut out in trying to clean up the city.

One tool that's used in this effort -- a rental inspection ordinance -- will see its landlord licensing fee skyrocket from $15 to $50 every two years for each party. The increase -- and the extra $12,000 it's expected to bring in -- is included in the 2013 city budget, City Manager Scott Andrejchak said.

But city council has to formally approve the change, and its members briefly hashed over the increase Monday. No residents or landlords came to protest during the work session.

“This isn’t a crackdown on landlords, it’s trying to tighten up the business operation,” council Vice President Ed Palanski said.

The hike would be the second since the program began in 2004 and would help cover the cost the city devotes to inspections.

 Council members in spring 2010 passed an ordinance raising the fee from $3 to $15 per dwelling. That fee covers buildings with up to three units and there are additional fees for apartment buildings larger than that.

Currently, rental properties are supposed to be inspected every two years and tenants are to be registered with the city.

In 2008, former Mayor Bob Lucas suggested allowing landlords to hire private inspectors and said even a $50 fee wouldn’t cover the cost of the city overseeing the program. Council didn’t act on the suggestion then.

The rental inspection program began in about 2004.

In December, landlord Anthony Delgros spoke against the hike.

“The city is being restrictive to development. This is just another nail in the coffin,” Delgros said, noting the city has a high wage tax and property tax, as well.

The change works out to an additional $1.50 per month per unit for the term of the license.

Council will vote to formally introduce the change during its Jan. 17 meeting and could adopt the change in February.