Rental inspection program passes Pittsburgh City Council
District 1 News: Councilman Wilson
Hello everyone, I’m proud to share that in late September, I passed legislation to permit registration and inspection of all rental properties in the City of Pittsburgh, which includes both short and long-term rentals. This program, which will be implemented by the City’s Department of Permits, Licenses, and Inspections (PLI), will provide for systematic registration and inspection of residential rental properties. One of the goals of this legislation is to make sure that all tenants and visitors in Pittsburgh are living in safe and permitted rental properties.
Once this legislation goes into effect, owners of rental properties in Pittsburgh would be expected to apply for a permit through PLI, contingent upon an inspection of the property. Owners would be granted a provisional permit after submitting their application, valid until the inspection is completed. The inspection will aim to ensure a minimum level of safety for tenants based on the International Property Maintenance Code.
The permit would have to be renewed annually, but an inspection would only be required every three years. The goal of having owners apply annually for a permit is to ensure the City has up-to-date records for a point of contact with the owners of all rental properties within its borders.
If a rental unit fails an inspection, the PLI inspector would supply the owner a list of deficiencies within 10 days. The owner would then be granted a specific period to fix the problems. However, if serious safety and habitability issues are found during the inspection, the provisional permit would be revoked. If the owner of a rental unit does not apply for a permit, or fails to fix identified problems, PLI would issue a request for compliance. If that was ignored, owners could face a fine of $500 per unit per month until they secure a valid permit from PLI.
Last month, the City of Pittsburgh’s Plastic Bag Ban went into effect with the goal of promoting a cleaner and more sustainable community by reducing the use of single-use plastics. The ban states that all retail establishments (grocery stores, restaurants, convenience stores, big box stores, etc.) operating within the City of Pittsburgh are prohibited from providing a single-use plastic bag or a non-recycled paper bag to a customer at checkout or through delivery.
Plastic carry-out bags with handles can no longer be distributed by Pittsburgh retailers at checkout, or through pick-up and delivery. Paper carry-out bags may be provided by Pittsburgh retailers for a minimum of $0.10 per bag. Retailers keep all paper bag fees. Paper bags must contain a minimum of 40% post-consumer recycled content and no old growth fiber. I encourage you to switch to reusable bags to avoid the bag fee, reduce waste, and prevent litter. Complete details on the plastic bag ban and a list of exemptions to the ban can be found here: pittsburghpa.gov/dpw/plasticbag-ban.
I want to also highlight PWSA’s new Line Repair and Water Conservation Pilot Program. This program provides income- qualified customers with in-home plumbing repairs and enrollment in the Customer Advantage portal to receive future leak alerts and further reduce water usage.
Under the Line Repair and Water Conservation Pilot Program, a professional plumber will work directly with customers to repair water leaks and install water saving devices, while the PGH2O Cares team will provide one-on-one support to enroll customers in the Customer Advantage portal. The portal provides access to water conservation strategies that can help save water and money on monthly PWSA bills. The Customer Advantage portal is available to all PWSA customers. Complete details can be found here: pgh2o.com/ news-events/news/press-release/2023-0926-pwsa-launches-innovative-line-repairand- water.
In the past few years, many Northside residents have experienced issues with landslides on their property. In my four years as your City Councilman, I’ve allocated millions of dollars to landslide remediation in Riverview Park alone. But we need more proactive solutions for homeowners on the Northside. That’s why I would like to share that my colleagues in elected office, Pennsylvania State Representatives Emily Kinkead and Valerie Gaydos, have been working on a bill to establish a landslide insurance assistance program that deserves to be highlighted and shared with the community. H.B. 589 of the 2023-24 session seeks to expand the current Coal and Clay Mine Subsidence Insurance Program to protect vulnerable homeowners across Pennsylvania by giving them access to landslide and sinkhole insurance coverage at fair prices, setting up a mechanism to evaluate potential landslide risks, and providing tools and incentives to communities and individuals to reduce losses to landslides. By folding it into the existing program, this legislation would create the Coal and Clay Mine Subsidence and Landslide Insurance and Assistance Program. When it comes to landslides, we need help from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. I encourage you to contact Chairman Greg Vitali of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee by filling out the contact form on his website and ask him to bring H.B. 589 up for a vote.
If you have any questions or concerns about any of the items discussed in this column or any other City issues, please call us at (412) 255-2135, email us at district1@pittsburghpa. gov or find us on Facebook and Twitter. My staff and I look forward to hearing from you!