Jan 27, 2010

Confusion In Blogosphere

Today's local blogosphere has some confusion and misinformation. Since I have recently been referred to as Mr. Misinformation and a naysayer, who better to bring some clarity to this clouded crystal ball?

Bernie O'Hare has used two recent posts from Scott Armstrong, and Jeff Pooley takes exception with one. In the first instance, Scott accuses Ernie Atiyeh, newly elected President of the neighborhood associations, of not being a fair broker for that position. Long time neighborhood leaders see the problem not in the politics, but in the election process itself. Apparently the rules were suspended, and they feel the election was highjacked by attendees with a scant history of attendance.

The second piece of red meat thrown out for the anonymous commentators to chew on, is that the annual rental inspection fee was raised from $16 to $75 dollars. So what, serves those absentee slumlords right, raise it to $1000! Well, it's not the inspection fee, it is the annual City Rental Unit Registration/License Fee, which was authorized by the Rental Inspection Program. The 2009 fee for apartments, which had been previously inspected, was $11. The previous fee for uninspected units was $16. At this point in time, all units in Allentown have been inspected at least once; so in practicality, the fee rose from $11 to $75. In 2009 City Council agreed to raise the fee to $30, then agreed again to increase the increase to $75 before the first increase went into effect. The fee is paid annually, independent of actual inspections, which are projected on a five year schedule. It is my understanding that some of the larger projects with fixed income seniors, such as Episcopal House, are impaired by this increase.

In response to The Morning Call's request for information from the City of Allentown, under the Freedom of Information Act, the City has sued The Morning Call. Here in the blogosphere we give you information and misinformation, if you want it or not, absolutely free.

Disclaimer: I do not believe that any person mentioned intentionally disseminates misinformation.


Anonymous said...

Who comes up with this crap?
I suppose this was studied and voted on by our City Council?
Will this new and outrageously steep new tax help help any citizens in ANY way?
Now, it's a business license, $75.00 per apartment (for What?),
and $50.00 inspection fee per unit prior to each new arriving tennant.
Oh yes, and a pre-sale inspection for properties too.
Where is all this money going?
Is the City Council joining the "fortune 500" group along with the Allentown Parking Authority?
Absolutely unbelievable behavior.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 4:59, i'm not familiar with the $50 fee, but the $75 per unit is in addition to a business license fee and there is also the business privilege tax

John said...

What he speaks of is an individual unit inspection fee that a Landlord must pay to have a CO granted when they want to put a new tenant into a unit. If you get tenants that last 3 months you have to pay it four times a year, six months, twice a year, it all depends on how long you keep a tenant.

I am not sure what the fee is I haven't (luckily) had to use it yet. I am sure it is just another bogus money pit type fee though like the rest.

Also, don't forget that they want to also charge now for a business license for every individual property soon. I was told this by the people in City Hall when I went to pay my license for this year. Lets just keep bleeding the Landlords dry because it will help improve the housing stock.

ironpigpen said...

Being one who rents, why am I suspicious that the landlords will pass the "savings" on to the consumer.

The landlords would not be the ones who would be the focus of my discontent with this matter, however.

I, unlike many in the United States these days, have no problem with capitalism.

I am not inherently distrustful of landlords, because they have competition to keep them in line, at least in theory.

If a landlord asks too much rent for a particular place, I am free to say no thank you and go pay a call on another landlord to see what he is charging these days.

Too bad I can't say no thank you to the clowns at City Hall and go see a different circus whenever I please.

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Anonymous said...

Reply to "Crap" Anonymous...the money is going to protect the health, safety and welfare; people and property. If you only knew how many slumlords don't provide basic heat, hotwater, have non-working appliances, exposed wiring, leaky roofs... all of this in direct violation of basic property maintenance codes (and similar to 3rd world conditions).

It's critically important that the codes team ensures safety. These inspections help reduce the potential for fires, improve quality of life and make the City better. They also, make sure that lives of the folks inside these units is protected to a basic, minimum extent.

I shows that Allentown didn't have these inspections before. I'm glad they are trying to turn it around.

If you can't afford to or refuse to adhere to basic property maintenance standards then you shouldn't become a landlord. And, you certainly shouldn't come into Allentown and continue to squat like a vulture. It's about time Allentown stood up for itself, its property and its people. Not all fees are bad and that rate probably doesn't even cover the staff time it takes to do the inspection, paperwork and follow-up --- it's low. Think before your write next time.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 9:50, allentown does currently have an apartment inspection program. the increase supposedly will allow for the employment of a few more inspectors, but currently all buildings are inspected. the conditions which you speak of, would result with one phone call, any building in allentown being shut down within hours.

there are many myths about apartments. in today's paper, a letter to the editor said that apartments should have to pay their share for extra trash and water. landlords do pay a full separate trash fee for each unit. the water is metered, and the landlord pays for the total usage. the city bills the landlords instead of the tenants, because that gives them the recourse of a lien.

john 5:42, the city (allentown) currently does not require a CO between tenants. it does require inspections under the rental inspection program and a submission of tenant names to the financial department once a year

Anonymous said...

There are very good landlords and there are many bad landlords. Out of state landlords are a sizable group. Complaints about rented units are numerous. What do you do? One idea is to increase inspections, but who pays the cost? Raising the fee keeps the home owner whole on the cost increase. You can't make everyone happy.

Anonymous said...

I got a big bill last week requesting me to pay $75 per unit for the registration/license fee. City of allentown or the mayor or the city council is going crazy, i suggest all the landlords stand up to fight for this unreasonable increase from $11 to $75 per unit.

michael molovinsky said...

it's my understanding that the administration requested the $75, hoping for council to approve $50, which would have taken care of their complete wish list, including additional inspectors. the administration was shocked that council just said OK.

if you want to organize the landlords, i suggest you use your real name; that would be a necessary starting point.