WILKES-BARRE — A proposed ordinance to “get tough” on crime by targeting problem rental properties passed the first reading by City Council on Tuesday night, and drew a mixed response from residents and landlords.
The amendment that sets a “one-strike” limit for landlords or tenants who know of gun and drug crimes committed on the property still needs a second reading at council’s Sept. 12 meeting before it can be enacted 10 days later.
But landlord Chris Puma of Ashley cautioned against proceeding with the amendment and suggested that instead of “punishing the landlord” the city hire more police and code enforcement officers.
He presented a scenario in which the six-month shutdown of a property as stated in the amendment cuts off the revenue for a landlord who has no knowledge of his tenant’s criminal activity. From there, the landlord conceivably can’t pay the taxes, the property ends up at a sheriff’s sale and the city loses tax revenue.