Borough of Lansdowne, PA
Delaware County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Borough Council of the Borough of Lansdowne 5-7-2003 by Ord. No. 1188; amended in its entirety 4-21-2010 by Ord. No. 1251. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Building construction — See Ch. 146.
Property Maintenance Code — See Ch. 255.
Zoning — See Ch. 330.
The purpose of this chapter and the policy of the Borough of Lansdowne shall be to protect and promote the public health, safety and welfare of its citizens, to establish rights and obligations of owners and occupants relating to residential and commercial rental units in the Borough and to encourage owners and occupants to maintain and improve the quality of rental units within the community. As a means to these ends, this chapter provides for a regular inspection program, registration and licensing of residential and commercial rental units and penalties for noncompliance.
The following words and phrases, as used in this chapter, shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this section, unless the context indicates a different meaning. Where terms are not defined in this section, such terms shall have ordinarily accepted meanings as interpreted by the Code Enforcement Officer by use of definitions provided in the codes and standards as contained in the Codified Ordinances of the Borough of Lansdowne.
AGENT or REPRESENTATIVE
A person who shall have charge, care or control of any structure as owner, or agent of the owner, or as executor, executrix, administrator, trustee or guardian of the estate of the owner. Any such person representing the actual owner shall be bound to comply with the provisions of this chapter to the same extent as if that person was the owner.
APPLICANT
The owner, buyer or agent thereof, such as but not limited to a realtor, broker, etc., who shall have control, authority and responsibility for the orderly processing of any property regulated by this chapter.
BOARDINGHOUSE
A building arranged or used for lodging, with or without meals, and not occupied as a single-family unit.
BOROUGH
The Borough of Lansdowne.
BOROUGH CODE or CODIFIED ORDINANCES OF THE BOROUGH OF LANSDOWNE
The official Code book of the Borough of Lansdowne and shall contain all the local, legally binding codes, standards and ordinances governing the Borough.
BUILDING
Any structure occupied or intended for supporting or sheltering any occupancy. For application of this chapter, each portion of a building which is completely separated from other portions by fire walls complying with the Building Code[1] shall be considered as a separate building.
CODE
Any code or ordinance adopted, enacted and/or in effect in the Borough of Lansdowne concerning fitness for habitation or the construction, maintenance, operation, occupancy, use or appearance of any buildings, structures and/or lots of ground regulated by this chapter.
CODE DEPARTMENT
The department charged with the enforcement of the Borough Code for the Borough of Lansdowne.
CODE ENFORCEMENT OFFICER
The Director of Code Enforcement or person designated by him/her charged with the administration and enforcement of this chapter.
COMMON
Space which is not a part of the rental unit and which is shared with other occupants of a rental unit, whether they reside in the rental unit or not. Common areas shall be considered part of the premises for the purpose of this chapter.
DWELLING
Any building that contains one or two dwelling units used, intended or designed to be built, used, rented, leased, let or hired out to be occupied or that are occupied for living purposes.
DWELLING UNIT
A single unit providing complete, independent living facilities for one or more persons, including permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking and sanitation.
FACTORY INDUSTRIAL GROUP F OCCUPANCY
Includes, among others, the use of a building or structure, or a portion thereof, for assembling, disassembling, fabricating, finishing, manufacturing, packaging, repair or processing operations that are not classified as a Group H hazardous occupancy. Factory occupancies shall include all such occupancies as listed and defined in the Building Code[2] as adopted in the Codified Ordinances of Lansdowne Borough.
HIGH-HAZARD OCCUPANCIES
Includes, among others, the use of a building or structure, or a portion thereof, that involves the manufacturing, processing, generation or storage of materials that constitute a physical or health hazard due to the quantities of the material and shall include all such occupancies as listed and defined in the Building Code[3] as adopted in the Codified Ordinances of Lansdowne Borough.
MERCANTILE OCCUPANCY
Includes, among others, buildings and structures, or a portion thereof, for the display and sale of merchandise and involves stocks of goods, wares or merchandise incidental to such purposes and accessible to the public. Mercantile occupancies shall include all such occupancies as listed and defined in the Building Code[4] as adopted in the Codified Ordinances of Lansdowne Borough.
MULTIPLE-FAMILY DWELLING UNIT or APARTMENT HOUSE
A building, or portion thereof containing two or more dwelling units and not meeting the requirements of multiple single-family dwellings.
[Amended 9-6-2017 by Ord. No. 1308]
MULTIPLE SINGLE-FAMILY DWELLING
A building, or portion thereof, containing more than two dwelling units.
OCCUPANCY
The purpose for which a building, or portion thereof, is used.
OWNER
Any person, agent, operator, firm or corporation having a legal or equitable interest in the property, including the guardian of the estate of any person or the executor or administrator of the estate of such person if ordered to take possession of real property by the court.
OWNER-OCCUPIED PORTIONS RENTAL PROPERTIES
Areas or portions of a rental property that are used or occupied primarily by the property owner.
PREMISES or PROPERTY
A lot, plot or parcel of land, including any structures thereon. Shall also be referred to as a "property."
PROPERTY OWNER
The person listed as the owner of such real estate property as named on any title, deed, Delaware County tax records or Lansdowne Borough tax records.
RAPID ENTRY KEY SYSTEM
A system approved by the Director of Code Enforcement or the Fire Marshal that provides emergency access to the Fire Department only in the event of a fire, rescue or other potentially life- or property-threatening situation. The system consists of a rapid entry key box and/or a rapid entry padlock. The system is not to be used for any unlawful entry to the property or for the purpose of performing inspections without proper consent unless the property owner or local agent is present and consents to such inspection or unless a legal search warrant has been issued.
RENTAL AGREEMENT
A legal agreement between the owner and tenant embodying the terms and conditions concerning the use and occupancy of the rental unit.
RENTAL LICENSE
A document issued by the Code Department to the owner of a rental unit under this chapter which is required for the lawful rental and occupancy of any rental dwelling, buildings or structures.
RENTAL PROPERTY
A premises, property or portion thereof, that is under a rental agreement and/or contains one or more rental units.
RENTAL REGISTRATION
A document issued by the Code Department to the owner of a rental unit evidencing the existence of said rental unit. This registration shall be required until the Code Officer inspects the unit and issues a rental license for each rental unit.
RENTAL UNIT
Any dwelling, structure, building, ground or portion thereof that is occupied or used under an individual rental agreement with a tenant.
RESIDENTIAL COMMERCIALLY MIXED OCCUPANCIES
A premises containing a combination of residential and commercial occupancies approved for operation in accordance to the Codified Ordinances of the Borough of Lansdowne.
RESIDENTIAL GROUP R OCCUPANCIES
Residential Group R includes, among others, the use of a building or structure, or a portion thereof, for sleeping accommodations when not classed as an Institutional Group I. Residential occupancies shall include the following:
A. 
R-1: residential occupancies where the occupants are primarily transient in nature (less than 30 days), including:
(1) 
Boardinghouses (transient).
(2) 
Hotels (including motels).
B. 
R-2: residential occupancies containing more than two dwelling units where the occupants are primarily permanent in nature, including:
(1) 
Apartment houses.
(2) 
Boardinghouses (not transient).
(3) 
Convents.
(4) 
Dormitories.
(5) 
Fraternities and sororities.
(6) 
Monasteries.
C. 
R-3: residential occupancies where the occupants are primarily permanent in nature and not classified as R-1, R-2 or I and where buildings do not contain more than two dwelling units, or adult- and child-care facilities that provide accommodations for five or fewer persons of any age for less than 24 hours.
D. 
R-4: Residential occupancies shall include buildings arranged for occupancy as residential care/assisted living facilities, including more than five but not more than 16 occupants, excluding staff.
ROOMING HOUSE
A building, which has a dwelling unit, occupied by the owner and which has accommodations for not more than three roomers.
SELF-SERVICE STORAGE FACILITY
Real property designed and used for the purpose of renting or leasing individual storage spaces to customers for the purpose of storing and removing personal property on a self-service basis.
SINGLE-FAMILY DWELLING UNIT
A building on a lot designed and occupied exclusively as a residence for one family.
SLEEPING ACCOMMODATIONS
Rooms in which people sleep, such as dormitory and hotel or motel guest rooms or suites.
STORAGE GROUP S OCCUPANCY
Includes, among others, the use of a building or structure, or a portion thereof, for storage that is not classed as a hazardous occupancy. Storage occupancies shall include all such occupancies as listed and defined in the Building Code[5] as adopted in the Codified Ordinances of Lansdowne Borough.
TENANT
Any individual or individuals that are named on a legal agreement, such as a rental agreement with the property owner, in which permission to use a dwelling, structure, building, ground or portion thereof is granted by the owner to the tenant. Tenant shall further imply to include other individuals that, due to a relationship with the tenant, shall share such use of the rental unit as allowed for by the rental agreement and are not covered under a separate rental agreement.
TWO-FAMILY DWELLING UNIT
A building on a lot designed and occupied exclusively as a residence for two families living independently of one another.
UTILITY AND MISCELLANEOUS OCCUPANCIES
Buildings and structures of an accessory character and miscellaneous structures not classified in any specific occupancy shall be constructed, equipped and maintained to conform to the requirements of this chapter commensurate with the fire and life hazard incidental to their occupancy. Group U occupancies shall include all such occupancies as listed and defined in the Building Code[6] as adopted in the Codified Ordinances of Lansdowne Borough.
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 146, Building Construction.
[2]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 146, Building Construction.
[3]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 146, Building Construction.
[4]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 146, Building Construction.
[5]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 146, Building Construction.
[6]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 146, Building Construction.
The owner of each rental property shall register the rental property with the Code Department and shall pay the required fees. Fees shall not be prorated for any reason. Registration forms shall be available in the Code Department office. Information required to be submitted shall include, but not be limited to, the following:
A. 
The names, addresses and a phone number of all owners of the premises.
B. 
The name, local address and telephone numbers (business, home, cell and pager, if available) of the local agent, if different from the owner.
C. 
The address of the premises.
D. 
The type of premises.
E. 
The number of rental units in each building on the premises.
F. 
Emergency contractors list. The applicant shall provide a list of contractors who are available to respond to emergencies involving general construction, roofing, plumbing, heating and electrical incidents 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. These contractors must be licensed and approved to work in the Borough of Lansdowne.
G. 
Designation of local agent.
(1) 
No rental registration or rental license shall be issued unless there is provided to the Code Department the name, mailing address, actual street address and telephone number of a designated responsible agent residing on the premises or within 10 miles of the Borough. The agent shall provide access to the premises for the purpose of making inspections necessary to ensure such compliance with this chapter. They shall have access to all areas of the premises. They shall provide access to the premises for emergency personnel during any fires or medical emergencies.
(2) 
Exception. The local agent referred to in this section may reside more than 10 miles and up to 50 miles from the Borough of Lansdowne if the owner provides a rapid entry key system as approved by the Code Department.
(3) 
The owner may serve as the local agent if the owner complies with this section.
(4) 
The Code Enforcement Officer will be responsible for determining whether a proposed local agent satisfies the requirements of this section.
(5) 
It shall be the duty of the owner of a rental unit to notify the Code Enforcement Officer of any change in the identity of the local agent within not more than 15 calendar days of the change.
H. 
Biannual submittal of emergency occupancy list. For each rental unit, the property owner shall submit the name of each lessee, including the apartment/unit numbers. The emergency occupants list shall be submitted with each license renewal in accordance with § 265-6 of this chapter.
I. 
Written certification from a Pennsylvania-licensed architect or Pennsylvania-licensed engineer that states that each unit complies with all of the provisions of applicable laws, regulations and codes. If a unit does not comply with all applicable laws, regulations and codes, the certification from a Pennsylvania-registered and -licensed architect or engineer shall specify the manner and laws, regulations and codes with which each unit fails to comply. In lieu of a certification by a Pennsylvania-registered and -licensed architect or engineer, an inspection may be conducted, at the request of the owner, by the Borough Code Enforcement Officer to ascertain compliance with this chapter and all applicable laws, regulations and codes, in accordance with the applicable fee schedule.
J. 
Registration shall be deemed complete when the owner has submitted the information required and received a registration certificate.
Upon completed registration of the rental unit, the owner or agent shall immediately arrange with the Code Department for a rental license inspection. The Code Enforcement Officer shall fully inspect each registered rental unit. It shall be unlawful for the owner of any premises or any agent acting for such an owner to operate, rent or lease any premises or any part thereof, whether granted or rented for profit or nonprofit, or to represent to the general public that a premises or any part thereof is for rent, lease or occupancy without first acquiring one of the below-approved licenses issued by the Code Department in the name of the owner, local agent or operator and for the specific rental unit. Fees for rental licenses shall be set by periodic resolution of Borough Council.
A. 
Types of occupancies.
(1) 
A residential rental license must be secured for the following rental units:
(a) 
All one- and two-family residential homes converted into dwelling units with no more than two units or tenants.
(b) 
Single-family homes.
(c) 
Rooming house with no more than one tenant.
(2) 
A rental housing license must be secured for the following rental units:
(a) 
Apartment houses.
(b) 
Boardinghouses, nontransient in nature.
(c) 
Convents.
(d) 
Monasteries.
(e) 
Multiple-family dwelling units.
(f) 
Multiple single-family dwellings.
(g) 
Residential Group R-2 occupancies.
(h) 
Rooming houses with more than one tenant.
(3) 
A commercial rental license must be secured for the following rental units:
(a) 
Business occupancies.
(b) 
Factory occupancies.
(c) 
High-hazard occupancies.
(d) 
Mercantile occupancies.
(e) 
Self-service storage facility.
(f) 
Storage occupancies.
(g) 
Portions of ground or structures used under a rental agreement.
B. 
A license must be secured for each rental unit.
C. 
Residential and commercially mixed occupancies. A separate rental license and appropriate fees must be secured for each rental occupancy type contained in a mixed-occupancy building.
D. 
Owner occupying portions of rental properties. Written certification from a Pennsylvania-licensed architect or licensed engineer that states that the owner-occupied portion of a rental property complies with all of the provisions of applicable laws, regulations and codes shall be provided to the Borough. In lieu of a certification by a Pennsylvania-registered and -licensed architect or engineer, an inspection may be conducted, at the request of the owner, by the Borough Code Enforcement Officer to ascertain compliance with this chapter and all applicable laws, regulations and codes, in accordance with the applicable fee schedule of the owner-occupied portion of any rental property.
E. 
Multiple inspection discounts. The applicant shall be eligible for a discount in the licensing fee if eight or more dwelling units located in the same building or complex are inspected in one business day.
(1) 
Discount will be voided if all units are not available for inspection.
(2) 
Applicant will not lose any discount benefits as a result of any Borough emergencies that require the inspector to leave the inspection.
F. 
Any applicant that is unable to correct violations within the time frame determined by the Code Enforcement Officer may be issued a provisional rental license at the discretion of the Code Department. Otherwise, a rental registration shall only be valid for 90 days, at which time it shall become null and void and must be renewed.
G. 
Exempt occupancy types. Any occupancies not specifically mentioned above are exempt from this chapter but are not exempt from other inspection requirements contained in the Borough Code.
If the certification from a licensed architect or licensed engineer states that a unit does not comply with all of the provisions of applicable laws, regulations and codes or an inspection by the Code Enforcement Officer finds that all applicable laws, regulations and codes have not been complied with, a rental license shall not be issued until the unit complies with all applicable laws, regulations and codes. In the event of any such noncompliance, the Code Enforcement Officer shall provide a reasonable time period within which such items of noncompliance are rectified.
A. 
Permit requirements. The owner, applicant, contractor or agent thereof will be held liable for the failure to secure any permits in accordance with the Borough Code.
B. 
Licensed contractors. In addition to the person performing the repairs or work, the owner, applicant or agent thereof is reminded that certain repairs or work performed must be done by a licensed contractor in accordance with the Borough Code.
A. 
Annual renewal.
[Amended 3-2-2011 by Ord. No. 1260]
(1) 
All rental housing licensees, commercial rental licensees and residential rental licensees shall be registered and renew their licenses by the first of March of each calendar year. The license shall be valid for the remainder of the license calendar year.
(2) 
Flexible scheduling. Any occupancies with more than 100 rental units contained in the same building or complex may enter into a flexible scheduling agreement with the Borough Council each September. The agreement shall contain the following:
(a) 
Total number of units due each month to include specific apartment or unit numbers due.
(b) 
Inspections must be located in the same building.
(c) 
Discounts on inspection fees shall apply in accordance with § 265-4.
B. 
Transfer of property ownership. If at any time during the calendar license year the ownership of any premises operating with a rental license is transferred, the property shall comply with the applicable Borough codes for the transfer of property ownership.
C. 
Change in owner-occupied portions; notification. It shall also be the duty of the owner to notify the Code Enforcement Officer, in writing, of any changing of a portion of the premises or unit from owner-occupied to non-owner-occupied, which thereby transforms the portion of the premises or unit into a rental unit.
(1) 
Application and notification. The owner shall obtain the necessary applications, pay all appropriate fees and comply with the provisions of this chapter not less than 30 calendar days before the prospected date of rental occupancy.
(2) 
License term. The license shall be valid for the remainder of the license calendar year.
(3) 
Exception. Any license issued within 90 days prior to the annual renewal date shall be valid for the remainder of the license calendar year, plus the following license calendar year.
(4) 
Fees. The applicant will be charged the full fee.
A. 
Neither the Borough of Lansdowne nor any employee thereof assumes liability for the accuracy or quality of any property inspected pursuant to this chapter at the request of the owner. The issuance of a rental license shall not be construed to represent a warranty or guarantee by or on behalf of the Borough of Lansdowne nor shall the issuance of any certificate, license or approval be construed to imply or warrant that a unit or property is: safe or free of any dangers or hazards to the occupants or general public; free and clear of any violations of this chapter or any other laws, regulations or codes; free and clear of any defects.
B. 
The issuance of any rental license shall not be construed to represent any warranties or guarantees by or on behalf of the Borough of Lansdowne, nor shall the issuance of any certificates or approvals be construed to imply that the property is:
(1) 
Completely safe or free of any dangers or hazards to the occupants or general public.
(2) 
Completely free and clear of any violations of this chapter or any other codes.
(3) 
Completely free and clear of any defects related to any structural, fire protection, fire prevention, building utilities or any other features of the property.
A. 
It shall be the duty of every owner, local agent or operator to keep and maintain all rental units in compliance with all applicable codes and ordinances of the Borough.
B. 
The owner shall not knowingly permit others on the premises to:
(1) 
Engage in any conduct declared illegal under the Pennsylvania Crimes Code[1] or Liquor Code[2] or Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act.[3]
[1]
Editor's Note: See 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 101 et seq.
[2]
Editor's Note: See 47 P.S. § 1-101 et seq.
[3]
Editor's Note: See 35 P.S. § 780-101 et seq.
(2) 
Use the rental unit in violation of the Borough Code.
C. 
Rental agreement. There shall be no less than nor more than one rental agreement for each rental unit or tenant.
(1) 
The owner and tenant may not include any terms and/or conditions in the rental agreement which are prohibited by this chapter or other applicable ordinances, regulations and laws.
(2) 
Except as otherwise provided by this chapter, no rental agreement may provide that the owner or tenant agrees to waive or forego rights or remedies under this chapter. A provision prohibited by this subsection included in the rental agreement is hereby declared unenforceable.
In interpreting and applying the provisions of this chapter, they shall be held to be the minimum requirements for the promotion of the public health, safety, morals and general welfare. Where the provisions of this chapter impose greater restrictions than those of any other ordinance or regulation, the provisions of this chapter shall control. Where the provisions of any statute, other ordinance or regulation impose greater restrictions than this chapter, the provisions of such statute, other ordinance or regulation shall control.
A. 
This chapter is not intended to, nor shall its effect be to, limit any other enforcement remedies which may be available to the Borough relating to the abatement of nuisances or correction of violations.
B. 
The Code Enforcement Officer may order the owner of any property upon which is located any structure to demolish and remove such structure at the owner's expense which, in the Code Enforcement Officer's judgment, is so old or dilapidated or has become so out of repair as to be dangerous, unsafe, unsanitary or otherwise unfit for human habitation or occupancy and such that it is unreasonable to repair the structure or, if such structure is capable of being made safe by repairs, to repair and make safe and sanitary at the owner's option and expense.
C. 
If any building, structure or land is proposed to be erected, constructed, reconstructed, altered, converted, maintained or used in violation of this chapter, the Code Enforcement Officer may, in addition to other remedies, institute in the name of the Borough any appropriate action or proceedings to prevent, restrain, correct or abate such building, structure or land or to prevent, in or about such premixes, any act, conduct, business or use constituting such violation.
D. 
Any expenses incurred by the Borough while performing the above shall be recoverable from the owner of the property, land, building or structure involved, together with a penalty of 10% of such expense, in a manner provided by law for the collection of municipal claims. In addition, the offender shall be subject to the penalty provided in § 265-14.
E. 
The owner, occupant, tenant or person in charge of any property or rental unit possesses the right to deny entry to any unit or property by a Code Enforcement Officer for purposes of compliance with this chapter. However, nothing in this chapter shall prohibit a Code Enforcement Officer from asking permission from a owner, occupant, tenant or person in charge of property for permission to inspect such property or rental unit for compliance with this chapter and all other applicable laws, regulations and codes, to seek a search warrant based on probable cause or to enter such property or rental unit in the case of emergency circumstances requiring expeditious action.
Requirements necessary for the strength, stability or proper operation of an existing fixture, structure or equipment, or for the public safety, health and general welfare of the occupants, not specifically covered by this chapter, shall be determined by the Code Enforcement Officer.
The owner, applicant or agent thereof may appeal a decision of the Code Enforcement Officer or request a modification of the strict letter of this chapter in accordance to the Borough Code.
The registration and permitting of all rental units and the designation of a responsible local agent shall occur immediately upon enactment of this chapter and shall be valid for the remainder of the license calendar year.
Whoever violates or fails to comply with any of the provisions of this chapter, or any provision of any rule or regulation adopted by the Council or the Code Enforcement Officer pursuant to authority granted by this chapter, or fails to correct, within the time set by the Code Enforcement Officer, the defects for which a dwelling has been cited shall be fined not less than $100 nor more than $1,000 or imprisoned not more than 30 days in the county jail, or both such fine and imprisonment. A separate offense shall be deemed committed each day during or on which a violation or noncompliance occurs or continues.
Nothing herein is intended to modify, enlarge or diminish any rights or responsibilities under Chapter 330, Zoning, of the Borough of Lansdowne Code.