HARRISBURG, Pa. (WTAJ) — The Pa. House has passed legislation to address blighted properties in the Commonwealth.
The legislation, introduced in March by Rep. Tim Twardzik (R-Schuylkill), said that the introduction of blighted properties onto a block or a neighborhood can lead to a downward spiral of increased disinvestment.
A blighted property is a property that is uninhabitable, dangerous, abandoned for a set period of time and/or a property that poses an immediate threat to other individuals or property.
House Bill 775, will be an amendment of Title 53 which addressed municipalities generally. House Bill 775 would rewrite the authorization that a municipality may impose in order to collect a vacant and blighted properties.
According to the bill, owners would face a registration fee starting at $500 for the first year of listing and reaching $5,000 for nine years.
If a property owner wishes to avoid facing a fee, they would have to bring the property into compliance within 12 months or sell the property in order to bring it up to code. According to the bill, the only property that would be exempt from this fee is one owned by the federal or state government, a county or a housing authority.
Municipalities would also be able to choose to enter a contract with a third-party to execute the vacant and blighted property registry and to collect the registration fees and fines allowed under the execution, according to bill 775.
“Blight affects all communities in Pennsylvania from former coal mining and steel towns to rural communities to our Main Streets in cities and boroughs. Yet, there is no database of blighted properties at the state or local level to aid local municipalities with the task of blight remediation,” Twardzik said. “As a result, blighted properties are easy targets for absentee landlords to simply hold the properties for future sale without rectifying the blight.
The bill passed the House in a 177-26 vote and will now be sent to the Senate.
For more information on the bill, visit the Pa. House of Representative website.