City rental law needs beefed-up codes monitoring

The City of Williamsport has a landlord-tenant ordinance to handle its rental properties.

It’s just not the one that most of the Campana administration wanted, particularly police officials.

City Council backed the ordinance but insisted it not include registration of tenants at City Hall, essentially the measure we have been advocating for awhile.

Police officials argued that without the registration they will be left chasing after suspects they can’t identify.

While we empathize with their challenges, we don’t view this ordinance as a failure without the tenant registration.

Without the tenant registration in City Hall, the onus is completely on landlords to track who their tenants are and how many are living in the apartments.

If they are negligent in those duties, the ordinance gives the city the muscle to penalize landlords, who are, after all, the ones doing the renting.

They can lose the right to rent if they are found to be harboring lawbreakers. That’s plenty of accountability.

Likewise, tenants can lose the roof over their head if they are found to be using rental properties as lawbreaking headquarters. That’s plenty of accountability.

If city officials want this ordinance to be effective, they need to give a good, long look at the codes and safety suggestions made a month ago by City Council President Bill Hall and Council Vice President Jonathan Williamson.

A beefed-up codes department that can thoroughly hold feet to the fire when it comes to codes violations and following of rental regulations is needed and well worth the cost.

Incentives for improved residential lighting throughout the city are a step in the right direction.

City government in recent years has dedicated millions of dollars in the direction of downtown and other developments.

While we are not saying this is money wasted at all, it is time, in light of the city’s crime-fighting problems and challenges, to shift focus toward solving that problem.