Montrose revives talk of rental ordinance

Montrose council members took some homework away from the June meeting Monday night as talk of implementing a rental ordinance renewed.

Council members were tasked with reviewing a Danville ordinance. President Sean Granahan said that ordinance had already been tested and stood up in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Granahan asked his fellow council members to review a packet of material that includes the Danville ordinance before the July meeting when he plans more discussion on the topic.

The Danville “Residential Renter Registration Ordinance” was adopted by its council in 2013.

The ordinance outlines property owner duties that include maintaining compliance of rental units with state laws and regulations, as well as local ordinances. Owner duties also include property repairs and maintenance, lawn mowing and snow/ice removal.

The Danville ordinance also requires owners that are not borough residents, or live or work 20 miles from the borough designate a manager that does meet the residency criteria. It also outlines the residency requirements for corporate- and partner-owned rental properties. The manager acts as the agent for the owner, and is tasked with performing the property owner’s duties prescribed by the ordinance.

In the ordinance, prior to a renter taking occupancy, they must be provided with a rental agreement that contains information including the lease period, the payment due date, and a list of available utilities and maintenance responsibilities at the property. The utilities and maintenance responsibilities would be indicated on the rental agreement as either the owner or tenant’s responsibility.

The ordinance also calls for owners to register rental unit with the codes enforcement officer, and copies of rental agreements are provided to the borough.

Rental units are subject to inspection once a year by the codes enforcement officer.

Owners are also required to obtain a Rental Occupancy License for each rental unit. The license indicates the maximum number of occupants allowed in each rental unit.

In the ordinance, renters are required to keep units in a sanitary condition and must permit inspections of the premises by the borough codes officer with a 48-hour notice from the owner or manager.

Montrose Council members will review the ordinance, as well as the accompanying forms and inspection checklist and discuss those items at the July 1 meeting before moving forward with an ordinance.

Council approved hiring NEIC to provide codes enforcement in the borough pending an agreeable contract to be drafted by the borough solicitor.

The council also discussed road conditions in the borough – with several members expressing concern about the number of cuts made on streets by Pennsylvania American Water Company.

Councilman Craig Reimel said workers had run out of material and left a 8’x8’ rectangle over three inches deep on a street last week overnight. He said only the spray-painted word “Bump” served as a warning to motorists.

Borough police put cones with reflective strips in the hole so vehicles could avoid it by moving into the other lane. The area was filled around 3 p.m. the following day, Reimel said.

Council voted to submit a complaint to the PUC regarding road repairs they say are not being made.

Montrose Police Sgt. Jim Smith said a lot of tractor trailers are still traveling on Lake Avenue, as directed by GPS systems. He said signage at the junction of Lake Avenue with Route 29 could alleviate the issue. Lake Avenue is a state road and the junction of the two roadways is in Bridgewater Twp.

Councilwoman Judy Kelly reported that the South Main Streetscape project would likely get underway after July 4.

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