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Thursday, June 13, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Landlords Challenge Pittsburgh’s Rental Rules

PITTSBURGH (CN) - The Apartment Association of Metropolitan Pittsburgh is challenging an imminent rental permit program in Allegheny County Court, claiming it will force landlords to "forfeit the ability to collect rents on their property as of April 1, 2009 due to the city's own logistical mismanagement."

The Residential Housing Rental Permit Program, which goes into effect in April, was design to ensure that rental properties meet fire, safety, health and zoning codes. It bars anyone from renting units without first obtaining a rental permit.

But the association says rental property owners have to jump through too many hoops in order to get the permits, including inspections, registration, occupancy permits and fees.

It claims the ordinance violates the First and 14th Amendments by effectively depriving landlords of their ability to collect rent, because "it is logistically impossible for the city to inspect tens of thousands of rental units before the ordinance takes effect on April 1, 2009."

The plaintiff adds that the ordinance places out-of-state landlords at a distinct disadvantage, in violation of the equal protection clauses of the state Constitution. The program also violates the privacy of tenants by requiring landlords to disclose their names and telephone numbers, the lawsuit claims.

Finally, the association takes exception to the fees, saying they constitute "an illegal revenue-generating tax on rental property owners."

It seeks an injunction against enforcement of the rental permit ordinance. It is represented by Lawrence Fisher with Cohen and Willwerth P.C.

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