Bad Neighbors? Coalition Gives 311 Tips
Coalition of Civics chips away at rental problem.
Since a coalition of Roxborough and Manayunk civic associations began meeting, a main objective is a crackdown on illegal rental houses and disrespectful tenants.
Identifying two main avenues for complaints, coalition members shared tips to Manayunk Neighborhood Council and Central Roxborough Civic Association members on how to reach the city and take back their blocks.
An outcome of several groups meeting together is better organization. Specifically, member Hillary Langer said neighbors from across Roxborough and Manayunk can ensure Licenses & Inspections codes are properly enforced and that rental licenses are in place.
"I think any of us on any block knows where the rentals are, so we can check the list and make sure people are following the rules," he said.
Langer procured a list from the city of properties licensed for rental units. In a sampling he analyzed of about 230 homes, he said 45 percent were illegally rented.
In Central Roxborough, resident Don Simon also referenced the list, suggesting residents check their own blocks against the official legal list.
Officials also discussed how to better use the city's 311 reporting system with coalition members.
Langer said a big thing is clarity.
"We need to focus on one complaint a call. Use unambiguous language. 'Property illegally rent'—that's it," he said.
Joshua Cohen, a staff member for Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr. (D-4), told Roxborough residents that specific details—like the hours a property owner may be home—are helpful.
"There's seems to be complaints that L & I closes cases too quickly if someone isn't home. We're trying to get people to submit it a little clearer to prevent that," he said Thursday.
Getting people on the books is part one. The next step is following up with property conditions. By reporting derelict properties to 311, neighbors can begin a process where the city responds, follows up and enforces codes.
"Sure, reporting licenses brings revenue to the city, but if you call for crumbling facades, long grass... they'll get fined, too," Langer said.
There is also some incentive for landlords to comply
For example, attorney Bill O'Brien added that a landlord needs to have a renter's license in order to officially evict a tenant.
The coalition is aware that self-policing isn't the most desirable method or a cure all, but it's a start.
"No one thinks this is a miraculous solution, but it chips away at the problem we have," MNC President Kevin Smith said.
Visit the 311 website for more information.