City codes leaders correct to fine violating landlords

City codes administrators are noticing that experienced landlords are ignoring the city ordinance that requires rental property inspections every four years.

So they are hitting them in the best place to change their attitude: The wallet.

They have started hitting landlords not meeting the inspection schedule with $600 fines.

That’s a lot more than the typical inspection cost of $90 to landlords.

And it’s not as if the substance of the inspections is outlandish. The ordinance calling for the inspections focuses on basic property maintenance codes governing existing structures and criminal action prohibiting illegal activity related to housing.

The inspections involve checking on smoke alarms, electrical systems and other building code requirements for rental properties. They are meant to assure people renting properties that they are living in safe places.

The terms of the ordinance have the backing of the Williamsport Landlords Association, according to William McConnell, vice president and treasurer of the organization.

Beyond that, recent experience underscores the need for the ordinance.

In a two-week period in November, there were two structure fires in the same apartment complex on Hepburn Street. When checked by codes officers, the rental property on the 800 block was out of compliance in terms of having an up-to-date inspection.

So the city codes department has every right – and, in fact, an obligation – to make sure that all rental properties in Williamsport are regularly inspected to make sure they are safe and compliant.

If it takes a fine, so be it.