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House of Representatives
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: September 16, 2015 03:11 PM
From: Representative Tina M. Davis
To: All House members
Subject: Allowing Municipalities to More Broadly Define “Hotels” for Zoning Purposes.
In the near future, I plan on introducing legislation that would allow municipalities to more broadly define hotels in their zoning ordinances. Our communities are under siege by fly-by-night rental units. The owners are taking advantage of the downturn in the housing market to snatch up distressed properties, convert them into boarding houses, and pack them with as many weekly renters as possible. Quite often they are paid on a cash-only basis, making it difficult for municipalities to enforce their minimum square footage requirements. This situation creates fire hazards and other safety concerns for the tenants living in these houses and puts additional burdens on our municipalities. Many of these renters have an existing criminal record or a poor credit history and are afraid to speak up if they are living in a situation that contains safety violations. The short-term nature of these rental situations creates an environment for tenants who are not invested in our communities. The sheer number of tenants that are being crammed into these units are creating traffic and safety concerns for neighboring homeowners and leading to a deteriorating quality of life in our neighborhoods. This legislation attempts to give municipalities a tool to provide better accountability and safety to keep these tenants and our neighborhoods out of harm’s way. As you may know, the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code (Act 247 of 1968) gives municipalities the ability to plan for and control land use within their boundaries. One of the tools used to manage this growth is the adoption and enforcement of zoning ordinances, which provide for permitted land uses throughout the municipality. This bill does not mandate a zoning change but simply gives the municipalities another zoning option. The legislation that I will be introducing would amend the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code to authorize municipalities to adopt a zoning ordinance that classifies as a hotel any residential rental property that has lease or rental terms of less than one month and to restrict their location accordingly. There are exceptions made for buildings having tenants that are related to the building owner by blood, marriage, adoption, or guardianship.

Introduced as HB1863