Councilman Bobby Wilson Passes Legislation to Permit Registration and Inspection of All Rental Properties in the City of Pittsburgh

 

City Council Seal

Pittsburgh, PA (Wednesday, September 27, 2023)—Pittsburgh City Councilman Bobby Wilson (District 1) passed legislation this week to permit registration and inspection of all rental properties in the City of Pittsburgh.

“Registering rental properties in the City of Pittsburgh, whether they are short-term stays or long-term leases, is a public safety priority for my Council District and for my colleagues on City Council,” said Councilman Wilson. “This program, which will be implemented by the City’s Department of Permits, Licenses, and Inspections (PLI), will provide for systematic registration and inspection of residential rental properties so that all tenants and visitors in Pittsburgh can be sure they are living in safe and permitted rental properties.”

Following the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court’s March 2023 ruling challenging the City’s prior ordinance creating a registry of rental properties, this legislation addresses those concerns by eliminating several challenged features. These eliminations include the following challenged requirements:

  1. inspections of rental units occur without the permission of their owner and tenant,
  2. PLI inspectors check for lead,
  3. owners of rental properties to hire a responsible local agent,
  4. landlords follow industry-wide best practices,
  5. owners of rental properties attend landlord academies, and
  6. owners of rental properties have their registration and inspection information published on a public online database.

A major change enacted by this latest ordinance permitting rental registration in Pittsburgh is that it now also encompasses short-term rental properties, which are commonly listed on platforms like Airbnb and Vrbo. Once this legislation goes into effect, owners of rental properties in Pittsburgh would be expected to apply for a permit through PLI, contingent upon an inspection of the property. Owners would be granted a provisional permit after submitting their application, valid until the inspection is completed. The inspection will aim to ensure a minimum level of safety for tenants based on the International Property Maintenance Code.

The permit would have to be renewed annually, but an inspection would only be required every three years. The goal of having owners apply annually for a permit is to ensure the City has up-to-date records for a point of contact with the owners of all rental properties within its borders.

If a rental unit fails an inspection, the PLI inspector would supply the owner a list of deficiencies within 10 days. The owner would then be granted a specific period to fix the problems. However, if serious safety and habitability issues are found during the inspection, the provisional permit would be revoked. If the owner of a rental unit does not apply for a permit, or fails to fix identified problems, PLI would issue a request for compliance. If that was ignored, owners could face a fine of $500 per unit per month until they secure a valid permit from PLI.

Upon passage of this ordinance, Mayor Ed Gainey added, “This is a critical piece of legislation that will ensure everyone who lives and rents property in the City of Pittsburgh is ensured a basic standard of living condition. I plan to sign this into law as soon as possible and I look forward to working with PLI to making sure this is implemented."

For press inquiries, please contact Councilman Wilson’s Chief of Staff, Mohammed Burny, at (412) 215-0528 or mohammed.burny@pittsburghpa.gov.

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