City Councilman Bobby Henon said about 65 percent of the calls his office has received since he was sworn in on Jan. 2 have been about absentee landlords and negligent neighbors.
Henon (D-6th dist.) plans to send a “gentle reminder” to residents and owners of properties who have received multiple property maintenance code violation notices over the last three years.
The councilman believes trash, overgrown weeds, high grass and broken windows cause property values to drop, neighborhoods to decline and community morale to fade.
Henon calls property owners who’ve received numerous violations without changing their ways “the worst of the worst.” He might subpoena them to testify in front of Council.
Philadelphia law requires that all rental properties have a valid rental license, and Henon notes that unlicensed landlords can be fined and prohibited from collecting rent.
As for properties suspected of drug activity, prostitution and other illegal behavior, Henon will work with police districts to put an end to it.
Soon, he plans to introduce legislation that would increase the penalties for property owners and tenants who habitually violate the law.
The problem is serious, he said. The recent sale prices of homes in the vicinity of a tax-delinquent property with two or more violations are, on average, 20 percent lower than sale prices in other areas of the Council district.
Henon is urging the public to report property maintenance problems by calling 311 and illegal activity by dialing 911.
“The more complaints I get, the more ammunition I have,” he said.
In addition, he is calling on landlords and residents who need help to comply with the law to be proactive and call his office at 215-686-3444 or the Department of Licenses and Inspections at 215-686-8686.
“Get legal now, or I’m going to use every tool available to go after you,” he said.
The councilman said constituents can follow his initiative by visiting his Web site at www.bobbyhenon.com or his Facebook page. ••EndFragment