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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: December 4, 2014 03:23 PM
From: Senator Kim L. Ward
To: All Senate members
Subject: Code Violations for Dilapitated Properties
In the near future, I will be reintroducing Senate Bill 1242 of last session which aims to give municipalities the ability to address dilapidated properties sooner than they now can.

Currently, municipalities must issue citations four times for the same building code violation before a criminal offense of failure to comply may be charged against a neglectful property owner.

This criminal offense was passed into law in 1999 as part of a package of bills addressing urban blight. It was intended to be used against property owners who are continually cited for multiple building code violations and who do nothing to remedy those violations. To date, this criminal offense has only been charged in a handful of cases and even far fewer convictions.

Blight continues to be a major problem in my district and it seems that nothing can be done to hold the rightful owners of these dilapidated buildings accountable. By lowering the number of code violations that trigger when this criminal offense can be charged, I hope to encourage property owners to stay on the right side of the law yet give communities the ability to quickly address those who do not before the properties deteriorate further.

The legislation I am introducing would do the following:
  • Allows the criminal offense to be charged when the number of code violations is two or more of the same subsection under the municipal housing code.
  • Clarifies that the offense applies for all residential, commercial and industrial properties.
  • A second conviction of a violation of the same subsection under the municipal building code related to the same property would be a 2nd degree misdemeanor, and the person convicted would have to serve a term of at least 10 days in jail, undergo a mandatory minimum of six months’ probation and pay a fine of no less than $1,000.
  • A third or more conviction of building violation under this section would be a 1st degree misdemeanor, and the person convicted would serve a term of at least 30 days in jail, undergo a year’s probation and pay a fine of no less than $3,000.
Co-sponsors of SB 1242 were Argall, Yudichak, White, Rafferty and Blake.

If you have any questions regarding this legislation, please contact my office at 787-6063. Thank you for your consideration.

Introduced as SB330