City offers hope for rental registry

Pat Corelli introduced the rental registry bill to SGB in early November. Abigail Self | Staff Photographer

After delaying voting on its rental registry for months, Pittsburgh City Council gave a preliminary OK to the bill Wednesday, with plans to vote again next week.

The City Council, which has been debating the bill since Mayor Bill Peduto introduced it in November 2014, voted to preliminarily approve the measure and move it to the floor for a full council vote next week, according to Councilman Daniel Lavelle. Seven council members voted for the bill, which will create a citywide log of all rented property and impose a fee on landlords, while Councilwoman Darlene Harris voted against the bill and Councilman Corey O’Connor abstained. According to Neil Manganaro, community relations manager for City Council President Bruce Kraus, the council will cast its final vote at the next City Council meeting Dec. 15.

If the City Council votes to approve the bill Dec. 15, it will then go to Peduto’s office for his signature.

Peduto first introduced the bill in November 2014, asking the city to create a log of every person who rents property under the same system. If the council and the mayor approve the bill, the Department of Permits, Licenses and Inspections will inspect each registered property once every three years to ensure it complies with city code.

Kim Clark, deputy city clerk, said the council also added three amendments to the bill. In part, the amendments alter the fees landlords pay per unit — $65 each for 10 units or less, $55 each for 11 to 100 units and $45 each for more than 100 units.

Properties such as hotels, motels, medical and rehabilitation facilities and college residence halls are not included in the bill.

After City Council approval, the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority Board, which oversees the city’s finances, must approve the city’s budget before the council can enforce the fee. According to ICA Chairman Nick Varischetti, the mayor and City Council are responsible for imposing the rental registration fee but the ICA initially turned down the mayor’s proposed 2016 budget.

In November, Pitt’s Student Government Board passed a resolution in support of the registry because some members, including Governmental Relations Chair Patrick Corelli, held landlords accountable for the upkeep of their properties.

“A big provision is that it’s a business license. [The properties] will be inspected,” Corelli said in November. “If landlords know there will be inspections and they will be held to code standards, they should take it more seriously.”

Since SGB passed its resolution in support of the registry, Corelli has been working with students to show public support of the registry and to put pressure on the councilmen who don’t support the bill.

“It’s really easy for us to get students to contact councilmen, it’s our councilmen asking us to do this,” Corelli said. “They’re working on the public support.”

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