My legislation that would end the common practice of landlords claiming a portion of a senior or disabled tenant’s Property Tax/Rent Rebate was unanimously reported out of the House Urban Affairs Committee on Nov. 2.

Many personal care homes include a lease provision which allows them to claim a portion of the rebate designated for a tenant, typically 50 percent or $325. This is often overlooked or not understood by tenants or their family members.  The lease agreement provided to personal care homes by the state Department of Public Welfare actually includes boilerplate language claiming the rebate for landlords.

Seniors and disabled residents of our Commonwealth are faced with difficult economic times on a fixed income, and it is our responsibility to do all that we can to protect their economic security.

After identifying numerous cases of this practice in Allegheny County and investigating its legality, I confirmed that this is a statewide problem requiring legislation.

This practice represents a misallocation of state resources for an unintended purpose. Care home residents continue to face daily personal expenses which are becoming tougher to meet.  My bill would prevent this abuse of one of our most-utilized state programs.

I am urging the House to act immediately so that H.B. 415 may be signed by the Governor before the end of the year.  We should not tolerate another year of this benefit being abused and taken from our most vulnerable citizens.

The Property Tax/Rent Rebate program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians age 65 and older; widows and widowers age 50 and older; and people with permanent disabilities age 18 and older. The income limit is $35,000 for homeowners and $15,000 for renters (excluding half of Social Security income). Those eligible may apply for a rebate on property taxes or rent paid during 2010 until December 31. For more information or to receive an application, call my Constituent Service office at (412) 343-2094. Rebate applications for property taxes or rent paid during 2011 are expected to be available in February.