Quakertown's Landlord/Tenant Committee has submitted their final report to borough council, and council came to an informal consensus that while regularly scheduled inspections are best for public safety, those inspections should be confined to rental properties for now and not spill over into homes.The discussion came during a special meeting held by Quakertown's Borough Council on May 27, when they reviewed as a group, the report of the now disbanded Landlord/Tenant Committee on what to do about drafting an ordinance.
The committee called that all properties be properly registered, and all properties be periodically inspected for fire and safety concerns. The committee was in favor for rental properties in an 8-2 vote, and 6-4 in the vote for owner occupied residences.
Several landlords in the audience were critical of the potentially possible ordinance for not being fair across the board and including home owned inspections as well.
The report itself critiques the perception that rental properties are less well kept than private homes. It goes on to show that a drive-by survey revealed that the majority of buildings in a state of disrepair are privately owned.
Council agreed with the committee's recommendation that inspections not be done when titles are transferred for property.
Council still has plenty of work to do with the issue. There will be an internal committee of three borough council persons who will take the board's discussion and return later with a fine tuned ordinance for council to consider. President L. James Roberts said that potentially council could be voting on the ordinance in July.
Solicitor Charles Fonzone researched the issue of similar ordinances and some of the standard complaints against them. He said that in looking at his findings and case law, all of the recommendations could be accomplished if the ordinance was properly worded.
Chair of the committee, James Roth, was displeased with The Free Press columnist Richard Woldow's May 22 opinion piece that took information from an anonymous borough council person.
"Public lies must be exposed," said Roth during a prepared statement that he read. "Whoever gave the false information to Richard Woldow has done a disservice to Mr. Woldow, The Free Press, this borough council and the public by hiding behind a cloak of anonymity, this one person has violated the trust of all of us Borough council now labors under a cloud of suspicion.'
Roth went on to critique specifics of the column that he said were "lies."
"Contrary to the published column there was no 'landlord faction trying to make the ordinance so unpopular that it would be rejected by residents and council."
Roth also said that while the column said that Dennis Lawrence and Jeff Haring were in favor of inspecting all residential properties "They in fact voted with David Zaiser, against the recommendation."
Roth also said that while the column attacked the stance of the committee for recommending no record of renters be kept, Roth said that the committee report calls for just the opposite.
Roth called for the source to come forth and apologize, but no one did.
"Don't take my word for it, read the report," said Roth. "Ask any committee member at random,"
David P. Anderson is the editor of The Free Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.