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Borough Council Enacts Changes to Rental Housing Regulations

by on November 19, 2013 7:00 AM

The State College Borough Council votes to toughen up rules and enforcement policies for rental housing. The council approved several changes to the borough's nuisance and rental property regulations during its regular meeting Monday night.

Some of the changes relate to the way penalties are handed out. Effective in March, a penalty of $500 to $1,000 will be levied for violations that occur at a property between the issuance of a rental permit suspension notice and the effective suspension date.

Other changes include adding a licensing program for student homes and giving the borough the responsibility of issuing the housing permits for rental properties.

Some council members took issue with the way some ordinances were enforced, such as how people living in a property are supposed to pick up trash by a certain time in the morning.

Council member Tom Daubert says people can receive points for violations they may have had no control over.

“If somebody walks in front of a property and throws beer cans on that property, and some overzealous enforcer comes along and gives them a point for tha t… [the enforcer] has total authority," Daubert says. "That’s unreasonable."

Borough Manager Tom Fountaine says that people can appeal convictions either administratively in the borough or with a district magistrate.

Some borough residents supported the changes, saying it was time to regulate rental properties more stringently. Resident and former council member Theresa Lafer says she has seen how landlords bend the rules when it comes to licensing rentals.

"I would rather have tighter control," Lafer says. "I've seen personally how people get around licensing, and their rentals are in terrible condition."

In other business the council awarded a contract to Poole Anderson Construction to build a municipal service facility. The borough will pay the construction firm $7,738,300.

The plan calls for an administration building, fueling station and truck wash, police impound shelter and insulation for cold truck storage.

Council member Jim Rosenberger, though he voted for the measure, had concerns about the cost.

"I do think we should have been able to build this facility for a lot less money," Rosenberger says.

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Adam Lidgett is a freelance reporter who has covered news and feature stories in State College and Centre County.
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