A New York Appellate Court recently found a local ordinance requiring an inspection and rental occupancy permit prior to occupancy of rental units unconstitutional. ATM One, LLC v. Incorporated Village of Hempstead. The Court determined that the ordinance exceeded the village’s authority by conditioning an owner’s ability to engage in the business of renting his or her own property on the owner’s forced consent to forego constitutional rights.

Legislation to prohibit municipalities from punishing property owners and residents for calling authorities during emergencies has passed the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. The bill was introduced by Representative Todd Stephens (R-Montgomery County) and passed the House after the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania filed a lawsuit on behalf of Lakisha Briggs, a resident of Norristown, Montgomery County, and a survivor of domestic violence. The ACLU of Pennsylvania supports House Bill 1796.

In April, the ACLU of Pennsylvania filed its lawsuit on Ms. Briggs’ behalf after Norristown tried to evict her under an ordinance that penalizes tenants who require police assistance three or more times in a four-month period. During an attack by her ex-boyfriend, Ms. Briggs did not call for help despite a serious stab wound to her neck and was only given medical care when her neighbors intervened. Ms. Briggs feared that she would be evicted from her home because she had called for police help twice previously during attacks by the same man.

At least 23 municipalities in the commonwealth have similar ordinances, including Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Allentown, and Scranton. The bill now heads to the Senate for its consideration.

Paul Hamilton


Submitted by Virtual Newsroom