Getting to the heart of rental property, drug trade problem

Pushing hard for a Williamsport rental ordinance holding landlords accountable for their properties, city crime officials were successful with their compelling case to City Council last week centering on the connection between rental properties and heroin trade locally.

Capt. Timothy Miller said federal authorities view Williamsport as a “source city” for heroin. More than 60 percent of the city’s properties are rentals and that is viewed as the conduit for transient, rampant drug trade, officials are saying.

Therefore, the answer, in the administration’s view, is to hold landlords accountable for who is living in their properties, assuring that the numbers of tenants are legitimate as well as the type of person living in the properties.

And that’s what they got with the rental ordinance approved by council last week.

We applaud the administration for its decision to not establish a registry of names of renters in City Hall. There’s a big difference between making landlords accountable which this ordinance does and having access in City Hall to the personal records of individuals. And we like the idea of holding landlords accountable for submitting numbers of tenants.

Beyond that, the answer is a more fortified codes department, as offered by City Council leaders who want to fund additional personnel to make sure rental properties are adhering to codes stipulations. A combination of both the administration and council initiatives along with the safety measures being offered by the council leaders would be positive steps toward solving the city’s rental property/drug trafficking problem. We hope council’s approval of this ordinance doesn’t mean alternative suggestions will be dropped.

Everyone agrees on the problem.

And we support the solutions being advanced, so long as private records aren’t being kept in City Hall. Anything short of that is fair game, given the extent of the problem the city is enduring.