Radnor Township Overstepping It's Bounds Again?

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ginamarie295's picture
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It appears the Director of Community Development, Robert Loeper, Jr. has been busy as of late. All landlords in Radnor Township are required to apply for Rental Housing Licenses every year. This year, though, us landlords received not only the standard application to renew, but three additional Affidavits Mr Loeper says we are required now to sign and return within thirty days. For each tenant we have, we must now sign an Affidavit stating tenants name, address, so on and so forth as well as that we swear to uphold the Radnor Township code regarding the number of tenants residing in each unit (all of which is already in a signed and fully executed lease). Additionally, the tenant is also now supposed to sign a similar Affidavit and even their parents are to sign an Affidavit of their own. I wonder how the 60 plus year olds feel about that?? I only rent to 21 and 22 year olds.

Clearly this has been targeted to those of us who rent to students. I know there is not much sympathy out there in the community for either the students who rent or their landlords, but is this an acceptable means to enforce an ordinance? There was no notice given to me as a landlord and I now have 48 Affadavits to either fill out and sign or have filled out and signed by others for my 16 tenants. There has been no change made to the Rental Housing Ordinance requiring this and there is nothing in the current code requiring this. The cover letter from Mr. Loeper states that the Affidavits must be submitted with the applications and if not, the applications will be returned.

At what point do we say enough to our local government? They already require copies of our leases which must state that tenants have received and will abide by the Rental Housing Ordinance. They have the means of the local court system to enforce the provisions and prosecute the offenders. To my knowledge, this has all been done behind closed doors as is Radnor's usual way, with the aim of intimidating landlords by demanding onerous additional work without any legal justification. I think any of us who do business in Radnor Township should be concerned about the kind of sneaky and invasive means used to control peoples lives and livelihoods.

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JohnN's picture
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This will be interesting to follow. As I am sure you are aware, there continues to be problems with student housing. My take, based on discussions with many folks in Garrett Hill and Bryn Mawr, near county line, is that we have not been enforcing our codes and this may be an attempt to begin enforcement. Right now you can tour the area where the student housing rentals are located and you will find trash and such that has been discarded as the students begin to move out.

By the way, has anyone contacted Mr. Loeper to ask him about this?

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MainLineThoughts's picture
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GinaMarie295:

Can't say many will disagree with Radnor Township on this one, so sorry, we'll have to agree to disagree.

It seems you have commented on this topic before, weighing in on Lower Merion student housing issues, right?

Have you read the papers the past month? Have you read about all the underage drinkers being picked up in Radnor from underage college parties? Streets like Glenbrook Ave, etc? Have you driven past student rentals now that some students have left and seen all of the trash?

What about streets like Penn Street in Bryn Mawr in Haverford Township? Did you know some of the most notorius student houses are supposedly illegal? How would you like to live next door to THAT?

What Radnor Twp is asking you to do is really not very different from what beach towns have done for years with regard to group summer rentals. Radnor should be applauded for this, because truth be told, especially in certain parts of Radnor, they don't appear to have been tough enough on student rentals, or rentals in general.

You might perceive this as a hardship since you obviously perceive yourself as NOT a slum lord, but you should be glad that they care enough to ensure all of these rentals are up to code and proper standards. By the way, on what streets are YOUR properties located?

Radnor is NOT being sneaky or mean in this case, and if you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear and should have few complaints other than you don't like paperwork. And if your tenant are on the up and up, they should also have no problems with this because they also theoretically have nothing to hide. Bravo to Radnor because everyone knows (for example) that sometimes prents of students will come to town to rent houses and apartments in their adult names for little Johnny and Susie, only to have Johnny and Susie pack it to the gills. Hopefully Radnor will get around to dealing with rentals like this one on North Aberdeen which who knows if it is students or not, although it does sport out of state plates from time to time (but then again so does a rental around the corner on Willow close to the Cowan Park):

Eyesore North Wayne, PA 062

Then there is this rental or whatever thing on the corner of Plant and Willow which looks well, you decide:
Ugliest House in North Wayne 227 229 Plant Ave North Wayne

So, isn't what Radnor is doing a GOOD thing if it keeps an eye on student rentals and properties like these? So is it really just to target those who rent to students, or is it taking their responsibilities seriously? As a landlord, don't you want those to whom you rent to have a safe and enjoyable experience? As a landlord who is on the up and up, don't you want other landlords to be good landlords too?

You of course, also have the choice of renting to longer term renters or non-students. That would cut down on annual paperwork, but you wouldn't make as much money turning over leases, would you? You make more money on students then regular renters, and even if one property operates at a loss one year, it gives you something to off set gains in other areas, right?

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dmuth's picture
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Wouldn't it make more sense to go after the troublemakers and/or their landlords, instead of targeting ALL renters in Radnor? Just the paperwork alone from these affidavits is going to be staggering.

This smacks of wasting taxpayer money, as well as punishing everyone for the misdeeds of a few. Why should the rest of us suffer because some folks can't be bothered to follow the rules. Let's go after the rulebreakers, and leave the law abiding citizens alone.

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MainLineThoughts's picture
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Can't say you are wrong, but how do they decide who is who if inspections aren't what they should be? After all, look at Lower Merion and their "self inspections"? Rental properties should be inspected whether we all like it or not. It's just a good idea.

Student rentals should have no problem listing the students who are living there from year to year, and the schools themselves should also know where their off campus students are, etc.

Is it a bit much for NON- students (regularlonger term renters)to be completing this paperwork? Yes. HOWEVER, landlords in Radnor having to affirm they are abiding by the rental codes shouldn't be so offensive. That at least seems reasonable....it's called accountability, right?

However, can it also be said that Radnor needs to do things better in more areas than this? What about stormwater management? What about unwelcome, unecessary development?

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dmuth's picture
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I would think that a good way to handle folks being out of line would be to act on complaints received.

This seems to work pretty well for the FCC, which doesn't monitor every single TV, radio station, and ham radio operator out there, but they do follow up aggressively on complaints.

Applying that to the current situation, if Radnor were to establish say, a "housing occupancy complaint hotline" or perhaps a website, that residents could use to file complaints about housing conditions, overcrowding, etc., I think it would be an effective way of dealing with the issue, without penalizing innocents.

Does that make sense? Anything I might have left out?

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MainLineThoughts's picture
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Seeing properties kept up to code and checked out on an annual basis is not penalizing innocents, it's keeping them safe. If there was more consistency from the end of townships regarding enforcement of student housing ordinances as well as more student rental landlords who were on the up and up, would there be any need for this? That is the REAL question looming isn't it?

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ginamarie295's picture
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Having just spent the day at my student rental, I can now respond to the various posted comments Smiling. I certainly do understand the dismay residents feel about both landlords and student tenants who are violating codes in their neighborhoods. The township has since 2001 had the means necessary to enforce their codes and follow up on complaints. If they haven't done so, shame on them. I fail to see, however, what requiring reams of paperwork which simply replicates what is already in a standard lease does to improve oversight of problem student houses. In addition, painting all landlords renting to students with the same brush does nothing to further a discussion which should center around problem solving.

I, personally, have no problem with having my one property inspected routinely and am, in fact, having that done this week. Inspections are a REAL way to evaluate the condition of a property and should be done. I could point out some non rentals near my own place that could benefit from an inspection as well.

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JohnN's picture
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There are lots of issues to discuss in this arena. When landlords are cited the DJ for the 7th and 5th wards has not been very supportive Reasons are many but the one I think we are concerned with presently has to do with folks claiming "ignorance of the law". So the affidavits will address this matter. With regard to responding to complaints, yes that is done. Some folks are reluctant do do this because of potential for retribution (yes it does happen). By the way, talking about wasting tax dollars, think of all the tax dollars associated with enforcement, sending out codes inspector or police, legal expenses and such.

The are good landlords and bad, there are good renters and bad but if we only go after the ones perceived to be bad, wouldn't that be discrimination?

I think this is a great topic. The residents who live in the affected areas would love to find a meaningful solution.

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ginamarie295's picture
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I've not been cited in the ten years that I have owned my building so can't speak to the court system. I would think any judge should be able to look at the townhip code which requires that landlords attach the Rental Housing Ordinance to the signed lease and dismiss the "ignorance of the law" excuse as invalid. If the landlords and tenants are not doing that then they are already vilating the code and a signed Affidavit is not going to address that.

"...if we only go after the ones perceived to be bad, wouldn't that be discrimination?" Heck no! We go after the ones we have justification to go after. A simple drive by of the outside of a property along with any complaints lodged by neighbors and citations issued by the police would warrant a crackdown. The properties that are kept up and are peaceful get left alone. It's not discrimination if you have just cause.

I'd love to have a discussion about the University's responsibility in all of this along with the parents of some of these students. I sat on a board that was created to address these issues several years ago which was comprised of township officials, landlords, neighbors and university officials. We had exactly one meeting and then disbanded. The conversation was so contentious the township decided not to pursue the collaborative effort and further.

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dmuth's picture
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> if we only go after the ones perceived to be bad, wouldn't that be discrimination?

I'd strongly disagree.

If the only landlords that are inspected are those that generate citizen complaints, I think would be an efficient system. The words "probable cause" come to mind here.

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JohnN's picture
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It appears I wasn't clear in my statement about discrimination. I was not referring to enforcement I was referring to the current complaint which was about the requirement for affidavits.

I agree re: the Universities. It wasn't that long ago that the University was considered to be 'in loco parentis" which according to Wikipedia,

"The term in loco parentis, Latin for "in the place of a parent", refers to the legal responsibility of a person or organization to take on some of the functions and responsibilities of a parent. Originally derived from British common law, it is applied in two separate areas of the law.

First, it allows institutions such as colleges and schools to act in the best interests of the students as they see fit, allowing what would otherwise be considered violations of the students' civil liberties."

Not sure at what point this was over-ruled, seems to me it was in the late 70's. We have had some improvement in the past few years but generally the schools take no responsibility for the students "off-campus". Just think about the issues associated with the Pub Crawl.....

There are also problems with policies that add to our dilemma. Villanova, for example says that Freshmen can't have cars on campus... well guess where their cars end up?

Fines don't work for the students, daddy just pays them so why not withold a diploma if a student has problems off campus?

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dmuth's picture
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> It appears I wasn't clear in my statement about discrimination. I was not referring
> to enforcement I was referring to the current complaint which was about the
> requirement for affidavits.

Oh, sorry.

> Fines don't work for the students, daddy just pays them so why not withold a diploma
> if a student has problems off campus?

Alternatively, how about requiring community service? Daddy can't do that, and the community (in theory) gets some free labor out of it. Smiling It also sidesteps the issue of getting colleges to change their policies.

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ginamarie295's picture
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I understand the concern about discrimination when it comes to the Affidavits, but I'm guessing that is exactly what they are doing. I received three different ones for each tenant. One is for parents requiring them to swear they are co-signers on the lease and to swear "We have been advised as to the limitations and restrictions imposed upon tenants living in rental properties in Radnor Township and swear that we will not permit _____________to act in violation of Chapter 280 ...". They must further sign that they will allow Radnor Township to enter the premises at any time for any reason with 24 hours notice. Does this sound like an Affidavit they are asking non student renters parents to fill out? I don't even have parents co-sign leases.

Community service sounds good in theory, but often times the infractions occur at the end of a senior year and then they are outta there. Would be tough to nail them down to do it. The township used to send complaints to the Dean of Students, but I think it became a privacy issue and that may have ended. Maybe the township should start a Facebook page and list all the miscreants for future employers to check on Smiling.

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MainLineThoughts's picture
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These affidavits are not discrimination, it's common sense: these are temporary residents with permanent legal addresses elsewhere. They are in effect, transient. Again, if you ever worked at the beach as a student in the summers, this is not unusual - landlords in Avalon, Stone Harbor, Sea Isle, etc want the same assurances. You knew it going in, and if you wanted to work down the shore with your friends, you simply complied and that was that. Non student renters do not present the same degree of risk: they are people with full time jobs putting down roots in the community, or trying to. If they need a parent to co-sign a first lease that is not so unusual, but these young non students aren't as likely to squeeze in a whole slew of roommates like college. They may have one, but more often than not, when you are out of college if you can, you ditch the group living situations. If you, Ginamarie295, as a landlord, do not have parents co-sign student leases that is kind of dumb, but on the other hand then you must be o.k. with occasionally losing money due to bad tenants and taking a loss to offset profits?

Community service can be done, and that is where municipalities need cooperation from the university or college: if a municipality goes to a Dean of Students and says "you have John Doe graduating in five days, but he has just trashed his rental property, or whatever" the schools SHOULD turn around and tell the student "hey bubs we're holding your diploma, transcript, etc pending completion of community service and or fines". It is nonsensical that township complaints equate to "privacy issues". Seriously, that statement is as dumb as saying you don't require parents to co-sign.

Now, do these colleges have degree of culpability here ? Absofrigginlutely. They are admiting these problem children along with the resposible ones. Villanova , etc needs to address this. There SHOULD be a standing committee (and it should involve the 3 townships most closely involved - Haverford, Lower Merion AND Radnor), and even if it gets heated, guess what? Both the University and the Township needs to hear about it. Villanova should have a comprehensive off campus student directory annually. And if those students want to be able to get their class schedules, meal cards, attend classes, then they have to provide the university with their physical student year street address, phone numbers, and names of roommates along with a copy of the affidavit they sign for their landlord that goes to township or whatever. THEN and only THEN should those students be able to attend class, etc. And if Villanova says freshmen can't have cars on campus, then they should be able to house all freshman cars somewhere else on THE university dime, but they don't and the cars end up on the streets. As a freshman living on campus, you do not need a car. You just don't. You know where a lot of those student cars end up in Lower Merion? Hogging 12 hour parking meters or taking valuable on street parking in little neighborhoods that can't spare it. In Radnor, it's much the same. Ditto for Haverford Township. The way Villanova students treat Penn Street, Old Railroad, Preston, etc is a disgrace. And also? These municipalities should have a different ticket system. NOT to increase the intial fines necesarilly, but to have a step system, so if parking enforcement is getting repeats from certain vehicles, after say one or two tickets at the same location, the cost should start to go up. AND if the vehicles (as they mostly do) have the Villanova on campus parking lot stickers on them, those numbers should be reported to the local commissioner and sent in a monthly list to Villanova. Villanova can track those students by those stickers....and to be fair, Villanova is not the only source of issue - there are also off campus students from other schools that can be problematic. Look at the number of schools: Villanova,Harcum, St. Joes, Cabrini, Eastern,Bryn Mawr, Haverford...

What do YOU as a landlord do when and if you discover your students have trashed your property? What do you do if student tenants skip on a lease? What do you do if you discover your apartments are occupied by more than Radnor's allowable number of non-relateds, which is what? Two or Three non-related individuals? What if you have five students, three of whom claim they are related? How do you make them prove they are legally related so you don't violate Radnor's student housing codes as a landlord? Did you ever say what ward your rental properties are in?

Sorry to be so hard on you, but we are going to have to continue to agree to disagree on certain things...however, in addition to everything, there needs to be more efficient work on the part of townships in dealing with student rental properties. The townships, in this case Radnor, need to not just push paper around, but do active enforcements and annual inspections. And if a property and particular landlord are repeat offenders, then they need to sit on them until they comply or revoke their license to rent. But the question is do they do that, or do they look the other way?

....I'd love to have a discussion about the University's responsibility in all of this along with the parents of some of these students. I sat on a board that was created to address these issues several years ago which was comprised of township officials, landlords, neighbors and university officials. We had exactly one meeting and then disbanded. The conversation was so contentious the township decided not to pursue the collaborative effort and further.
......I understand the concern about discrimination when it comes to the Affidavits, but I'm guessing that is exactly what they are doing. I received three different ones for each tenant. One is for parents requiring them to swear they are co-signers on the lease and to swear "We have been advised as to the limitations and restrictions imposed upon tenants living in rental properties in Radnor Township and swear that we will not permit _____________to act in violation of Chapter 280 ...". They must further sign that they will allow Radnor Township to enter the premises at any time for any reason with 24 hours notice. Does this sound like an Affidavit they are asking non student renters parents to fill out? I don't even have parents co-sign leases.

Community service sounds good in theory, but often times the infractions occur at the end of a senior year and then they are outta there.

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