Law Chases Carrick Landlord For Subpar Rentals

Locator map with the Carrick neighborhood in P...

Locator map with the Carrick neighborhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania highlighted. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  All I can say is enforcement, enforcement, enforcement.

For months, a putrid mixture of storm water and raw sewage has pooled outside the town homes on Berg Place in Carrick, a small street tucked behind a row of apartment buildings on Brownsville Road (Update: County officials order tenants to vacate premises).

The modest yards in front of the homes are marred by deep pits covered in flimsy plywood, an incomplete effort to fix problems associated with an unrelated water leak. And on one day this week, more raw sewage soaked one of the front lawns with a child’s wagon and toy car nearby.

The problems don’t end there. Tenants said that at times during the winter, they had virtually no running water, especially after the landlord shut off their main water supply and rigged a hose to siphon water from the nearby apartment buildings. When the above-ground hoses froze, the water stopped flowing, forcing tenants to haul in water in buckets and old milk cartons to even flush a toilet.

“It just dripped,” said Diane Berner, 51, who stayed with her friend who lives in the complex earlier this year. “It was a waste of time to even stand there and fill up a bottle.”

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Scranton Landlords, Homeowners And Renters Brace For Tax Hikes

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

University of Scranton students Bridget McVeigh and Ashley Opalka are apartment hunting with two criteria in mind: proximity to campus and lower prices than the university’s dorms.

The pair were alarmed city landlords are poised to hike rents in response to a proposed 2014 Scranton budget that would raise property taxes 56.7 percent, garbage fees 68.5 percent and rental registration fees from $50 to $150 per structure and $15 to $50 per unit.

Landlord Carol Smurl said she tries “to be compassionate to the tenants because they’re on a fixed income,” but she and her husband cannot afford to absorb that kind of increase.

Normally, Mrs. Smurl waits until tenants move out to raise the rent or tries to delay passing increased costs on for two to three years at her nine properties.

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For Shame, Lousy Landlords

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  Thumbs UP!

That’s what they’re doing in Pittsburgh.

City council voted recently to reinstate a public-shaming program aimed at irresponsible landlords.

The new law requires the city’s Bureau of Building Inspection to identify the 10 most dilapidated structures and the Department of Public Works to put up signs with the owners’ names, addresses and phone numbers.

Under the “Operation Red” program, the signs will say, “Don’t Come Here.  Don’t Invest Here.”

The signs are intended to shame landlords, but some critics predict they will embarrass tenants more.  Other critics say the signs may hasten the demise of particular streets or neighborhoods.

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