Yep, that nightmare might arrive for unfortunate renters in Chambersburg, Pa. A new ordinance is being discussed that would hold landlords responsible for tenant's bad behavior. Yikes!
Let's ignore the first assumption that rental tenants are unruly hooligans. Sure, some are, but then so are some homeowners. Let's also ignore the fact that your landlord is too busy dodging your repair requests to send you into a corner for a time-out.
Still, this ridiculous suggestion must sound appealing to some neighbors....
Chambersburg mayor Pete Lagiovane sees it this way. "To me, it's not very dissimilar to if you're living next to somebody and they've got kids who are out of control. You expect the parents to exercise control over their kids, and you expect landlords to exercise some control over their tenants," Lagiovane told Chambersburg Public Opinion.
Yes, it's true that landlords should maintain livable residencies and encourage good behavior -- if only for their own bottom line. Maintaining a livable apartment complex or rental house keeps the neighbors happy and the units filled.
As one landlord opposing the measure said, "I'm not a parent to these tenants. They're adults, they need to act like adults. If they don't, they need to suffer the consequences, not the landlords," Donald Ommert said. He owns twenty-five rental units in Chambersburg.
Nearby York, Pa. has a different approach. York's ordinance assigns a point system to tenant violations regarding noise, disorderly conduct and domestic disputes. Once a building receives a certain number of points the city can "close" the property to new renters. When the problem-tenants are evicted, the building's status returns to normal.
York landlords can't use the excuse that they didn't know how a tenant would behave. This means they are motivated to encourage good behavior, but not required by law to interfere in order to do so.
This sounds like a logical solution that treats renters like adults and doesn't put the burden of parenting on landlords.