[HISTORY: Adopted by the Borough Council of the Borough of Lansdowne 2-21-2018 by Ord. No. 1313. Amendments noted where applicable.]
It is the purpose and intent of the Borough to establish a process to address the deterioration and blight of the Borough neighborhoods caused by an increasing amount of abandoned, foreclosed or distressed real property located within the Borough, and to identify, regulate, limit and reduce the number of abandoned properties located within the Borough. It is the Borough's further intent to establish a registration program as a mechanism to protect the neighborhoods from becoming blighted due to the lack of adequate maintenance and security of abandoned and foreclosed properties.
The following words, terms and phrases, when used in this chapter, shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this section, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning.
- ABANDONED REAL PROPERTY
- Any vacant real property located in the Borough that is in default on a mortgage and is subject to an ongoing foreclosure action by the lender, or has been transferred to the lender under a deed in lieu of foreclosure. The designation of a property as abandoned shall remain in place until such time as the property is sold or transferred to a new owner, the foreclosure action has been dismissed, and any default on the mortgage has been cured.
- ACCESSIBLE PROPERTY/STRUCTURE
- A property that is accessible through a compromised/breached gate, fence, wall, window, etc. or a structure that is unsecured and/or breached in such a way as to allow access to the interior space by unauthorized persons.
- APPLICABLE CODES
- To include, but not be limited to, the Borough's Zoning Code, the Borough's Code of Ordinances ("Borough's Code"), and the Pennsylvania Building Code
- A. Properties that have broken or severely damaged windows, doors, walks, or roofs which create hazardous conditions and encourage trespassing; or
- B. Properties whose maintenance is not in conformance with the Property Maintenance Code or any other Borough Code; or
- C. Properties that endanger the public's health, safety, or welfare because the properties or improvements thereon are dilapidated, deteriorated, or violate minimum health and safety standards or lacks maintenance as required by the Borough and Zoning Codes.
- ENFORCEMENT OFFICER
- Any law enforcement officer, building official, zoning inspector, code enforcement officer, fire inspector or building inspector, or other person authorized by the Borough to enforce the applicable code(s).
- Any person, legal entity or other party having any ownership interest whether legal or equitable, in real property, including, without limitation, any mortgagee. This term shall also apply to any person, legal entity or agent responsible for the construction, maintenance or operation of the property involved.
- PROPERTY MANAGEMENT COMPANY
- A local property manager, property maintenance company or similar entity responsible for the maintenance of abandoned real property.
- Any building or structure that is not occupied by owners and/or tenants under a legal, valid and unexpired lease agreement.
These sections shall be considered cumulative and not superseding or subject to any other law or provision for same, but rather be an additional remedy available to the Borough above and beyond any other state, county or local provisions for same.
The Borough or designee shall establish a registry cataloging each abandoned property within the Borough, containing the information required by this chapter.
Any mortgagee who holds a mortgage on real property located within the Borough of Lansdowne shall perform an inspection of the property to determine vacancy or occupancy, upon default by the mortgagor. The mortgagee shall, within 10 days of the inspection, register the property with the Code Enforcement Officer, or designee, on forms or website access provided by the Borough, and indicate whether the property is vacant or occupied. A separate registration is required for each property, whether it is found to be vacant or occupied. The sale of any mortgage by a mortgagee shall not terminate or otherwise affect the requirements of this chapter. The requirements of this chapter shall be applicable to and binding upon any successor mortgagee or assignee or purchaser of a mortgage.
If the property is occupied but remains in default, it shall be inspected by the mortgagee or his designee monthly until the mortgagor or other party remedies the default, or it is found to be vacant or shows evidence of vacancy at which time it is deemed abandoned, and the mortgagee shall, within 10 days of the inspection, update the property registration to a vacancy status on forms provided by the Borough.
Registration pursuant to this section shall contain the name of the mortgagee, the direct mailing address of the mortgagee, a direct contact name and telephone number, facsimile number and email address for the mortgagee, the folio or tax number, and the name and twenty-four-hour contact phone number of the property management company responsible for the security and maintenance of the property.
A nonrefundable annual registration fee shall accompany the registration form or website registration. The fee shall be $250 per property upon enactment of this chapter, but such fee may be revised by resolution of Borough Council from time to time.
This section shall also apply to properties that have been the subject of a foreclosure sale where the title was transferred to the beneficiary of a mortgage involved in the foreclosure and any properties transferred under a deed in lieu of foreclosure/sale.
Properties subject to this section shall remain under the annual registration requirement, and the inspection, security and maintenance standards of this section as long as they remain vacant or in default.
Any person or legal entity that has registered a property under this section must report any change of information contained in the registration within 10 days of the change.
Failure of the mortgagee and/or owner to properly register or to modify the registration form from time to time to reflect a change of circumstances as required by this chapter is a violation of the chapter and shall be subject to enforcement.
Properties subject to this chapter shall comply with the Borough's Property Maintenance Code, including, without limitation, provisions requiring that the property be kept free of weeds, overgrown brush, dead vegetation, trash, junk, debris, building materials, any accumulation of newspapers, circulars, flyers, notices, except those required by federal, state or local law, discarded personal items including, but not limited to, furniture, clothing, large and small appliances, printed material or any other items that give the appearance that the property is abandoned.
The property shall be maintained free of graffiti or similar markings by removal or painting over with an exterior paint that matches the color of the exterior structure.
Front, side and rear yards, including landscaping, shall be maintained in accordance with the applicable code(s) at the time registration was required.
Yard maintenance shall include, but not be limited to, grass, ground covers, brushes, shrubs, hedges or similar plantings specifically for residential installation. Acceptable maintenance of yards and/or landscapes shall not include weeds, gravels, broken concrete, asphalt or similar material.
Maintenance shall include, but not be limited to, watering irrigation, cutting and mowing of required ground cover or landscape and removal of all trimmings.
Pools and spas shall be maintained so the water remains free and clear of pollution and debris and shall comply with the regulations set forth in the applicable code(s).
Properties subject to this chapter shall be maintained in a secure manner so as not to be accessible to unauthorized persons.
A "secure manner" shall include, but not be limited to, the closure and locking of windows, doors, gates and other openings of such size that may allow a child to access the interior of the property or structure. Broken windows, doors, gates and other openings of such size that may allow a child to access the interior of the property or structure must be repaired. Broken windows shall be secured by reglazing or replacing the window.
If a mortgage on the property is in default, and the property has become vacant or abandoned, a property manager shall be designated by the mortgagee to perform the work necessary to bring the property into compliance with the applicable code(s) and this chapter, and the property manager must perform regular inspections to verify compliance with the requirements of this article, and any other applicable laws.
All abandoned real property is hereby declared to be a public nuisance, the abatement of which pursuant to the police power is hereby declared to be necessary for the health, welfare and safety of the resident of the Borough.
Any person who shall violate the provisions of this chapter, shall, upon conviction, be punished by a fine not to exceed $1,000, plus costs, and in default of payment of said fine and costs, to a term of imprisonment not to exceed 30 days. Each day that a violation continues shall constitute a separate offense.
The Borough may seek to enjoin violations of this chapter by equitable action for injunction or specific performance.
Adherence to this chapter does not relieve any person, legal entity or agent from any other obligations set forth in any applicable code(s), which may apply to the property.
Any enforcement officer or any person authorized by the Borough to enforce the sections here within shall be immune from prosecution, civil or criminal, for reasonable, good faith entry upon real property while in the discharge of duties imposed by this chapter.