City to vote on charging students in dorms

By Lindsay Carroll

‘ ‘ ‘ Pittsburgh City Council again delayed a vote at Wednesday’s meeting that would count… ‘ ‘ ‘ Pittsburgh City Council again delayed a vote at Wednesday’s meeting that would count dormitories as apartments in a new registration process, which would require tenants to pay an annual fee. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ Councilwoman Tonya Payne proposed an amendment to a city ordinance that would exempt dormitories from paying the $12-per-tenant annual fee that landlords are expected to pay beginning April 1. The fee is part of a new system of tenant disclosure requirements the city might impose on the landlords. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ Payne, who chairs the Public Safety Services Committee, asked the council to table the amendment for the second week in a row. She said that the idea triggered other institutions, such as nursing homes and halfway houses, to ask for exemptions as well, creating a more complicated legal issue. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘We need to make sure this is fair all across the board,’ said Payne.’ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ Pitt spokesman John Fedele said Pitt is opposed to classifying dormitories in the same way as apartments. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘There are substantial differences between dormitories and private apartments, including restrictions on visitors, living arrangement restrictions and an educational component in that dormitories have residence assistants,’ said Fedele. ‘There are programatic offerings through residence life.’ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ Payne represents parts of South Oakland, where many Pitt students live off campus. She said universities see themselves as exempt from the legislation because they are not the same as landlords, whom the legislation is targeting. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘I think they’re dead on,’ said Payne. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ Pitt currently requires students to sign a housing and dining services contract. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ Students who sign the contract agree to follow University regulations, paying for any damages to the room and not holding the University liable for any damages or injury to themselves or their property. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ The contract lists move-in and holiday closing dates students need to follow. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ Bill 1073 is an ordinance that amends the Residential Housing Rental Permit Program section of the Pittsburgh Code to ‘include dormitory in the definition of a rental unit, and in the exemption clause.’ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ The bill establishes that a rental unit means ‘any dwelling unit or residential structure containing sleeping units, which is leased or rented from the owner or other person in control of such units, to any tenant, whether by day, week, month, year or any other term,’ according to the legislation posted on the council’s Web site. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ The ordinance currently exempts hotels, motels and bed-and-breakfasts.