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Politics & Government

City Council Delays Landlord Registry Bill

Pittsburgh City Council again delayed action on a bill Wednesday that would create a rental property registry.

“We did hold the bill for two more weeks while we continue to collaborate and work through some of the issues of the bill,” City Council President Bruce Kraus said.

As it stands, the bill requires landlords to submit all available forms of contact information, allowing the city to keep a close eye on problem properties. Owners could face a $500 penalty if they fail to submit their name, address, phone number and email address.

Kraus, who motioned to hold the bill, said landlords are business owners and need the proper licensing.

“We require business licenses for almost every business that operates in the city,” he said. “Rental business is not any different. It is a business, and I don’t see a drawback in licensing that business.”

The bill, which was introduced in November, also requires property owners to pay a yearly $65 per-unit fee. But, according to the 65 people who signed up to speak in opposition to the bill at a public hearing last month, it’s just another tax, which the city expects could bring in about $1.6 million in 2015.

“Some of the concerns that property owners brought to us was the fee structure, the unit structure, who it would apply to, who would be exempt and those types of things,” Kraus said.

The legislation currently exempts hotels, motels, public-housing units, university dormitories, rehabilitation facilities and long-term medical care facilities.

Kraus said the bill will be amended over the next two weeks and expects it to be ready for a vote by the end of the month.

“My commitment has not waivered,” he said. “I fully support a rental registry here in the city of Pittsburgh and I’m going to do everything in my power to see that it does pass.”