Early returns on city rental ordinance appear to be good

City of Williamsport officials say the rental ordinance that went into effect Jan. 1 is working.

They have numbers and anecdotal evidence to make their point.

The city has issued 17 citations and shut down properties since the start of the year, according to Joseph Gerardi, city codes administrator.

The citations are for failure to hold a license and failure to have properties inspected since Jan. 1, according to Gerardi. Two properties were shut down, and one of them reopened the next day.

For the one property remaining closed, two tenants lost their living arrangement. But the property hadn’t been inspected, had no heat, and there were sanitation issues. That’s a substandard property.

The new rental ordinance requires registration of rental properties and gives city codes officers broader powers to shut down dwellings.

And that’s as it should be. The people who rent property in the city need a public sector advocate to make sure they are living in adequate housing. And the city needs the muscle to make sure those properties aren’t been used for something other than housing.

The city codes personnel have a responsibility to make sure housing in Williamsport is up to standard and fulfilling only its true purpose a place to live.

Those have always been the expectations, but the tools available have not matched those expectations. The rental ordinance is a big step in that direction.

More and better paid codes personnel is the next step.

But the early returns on the rental ordinance appear to be good.