Absentee landlords beware


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. ••


You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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