Misguided ordinance

Although I applaud the efforts to reduce crime in our city, requiring tenants to register is not the correct way to do it. I have owned and operated rental properties in the City Of Williamsport for 15 years and can clearly state it is seldom my tenants that are a problem- most of the problems in my rental properties are from residents who are not tenants.

A tenant can be a resident of a dwelling. A tenant can be a non- resident of a dwelling. A tenant can be a corporation. Some tenants are residents, some residents are tenants. Landlords and tenants have been struggling over the definition of “residents” for hundreds of years. A Corporation may be recognized as an individual in the eyes of the law. Are they exempt from registering?

I can guarantee the national and multi-national corporations that rent property in Williamsport will not register, and the City does not have the ability or the resources to make sure they register.

If someone lives in an apartment for less than 30 days are they a tenant? If someone lives in a hotel for more than 30 days are they a tenant?

If someone is under 18 years of age- a local college student- and the lease is signed by a parent- who is the tenant? Who registers? If the student is over the age of 18 and both the student and the parent sign the lease- who is the tenant? Furthermore are local colleges subject to tenant registration?

There is no provision in the PA Landlord Tenant Act of 1951 the act that governs all Pennsylvania Landlords for a Landlord to evict a tenant because they, or someone living in their apartment refuses to register their name with a local jurisdiction. Who is charged with the responsibility to make sure a tenant registers? A Landlord has no right to require any tenant to register, and if challenged in court by a tenant a Landlord is liable for wrongful eviction.

If I was a tenant and told to leave by a landlord because I refused to register I would file a civil rights lawsuit for an unreasonable search and seizure- a right afforded to me by the US Constitution under the 14th Amendment.

Why are tenants targeted and not homeowners? Police records clearly confirm that crimes are committed by both tenants and homeowners- and landlords for that matter. If a tenant is required to register and a homeowner is not, then tenants are clearly denied equal protection under the law- a clear violation of “The Equal Protection Clause” of the US Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment.

What constitutes proof of identity? A driver’s license? A Social Security Card? Anyone with a color printer can produce a fake ID? Landlords are not experts in deciphering identification. Recently a Nazi was found living in Minnesota after his escape from Germany 60 years ago, right under the nose of a myriad of US agencies whose obligation it is to keep these criminals out the United States. Our city does not have the time, or the resources to confirm the identity of tenants, residents, houseguests and family members living in apartment units. If I lose a great tenant because they wish to remain anonymous, I lose rent. That is unfair and unjust.

The city’s existing codified ordinance already contains laws against nuisance properties and tenants. There are laws against too noise, too much light, too much dirt, too much trash, too many tenants etc. We should enforce existing laws before even considering passing new laws. Simple logic.

Successful municipalities throughout the United States do not require tenant registration. Very few municipalities have enacted tenant registration laws- and these cities can easily be defined as unsuccessful, and in addition are guilty of passing the blame for their own inabilities to enforce laws already on the books.

Edward Lyon


Submitted by Virtual Newsroom