Senate committee endorses new anti-blight measure

HARRISBURG – The Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee approved legislation today that would help hold additional property owners accountable for allowing structures and property to fall into a dangerous state of disrepair, according to Committee Chairman Senator David G. Argall (R-29).

House Bill 2120, sponsored by Representative Kurt Masser (R-107) would strengthen Act 90 of 2010 by ensuring all property owners and individuals they put in control of the property can be held responsible when a property becomes blighted. The measure would prevent property owners from hiding behind fictitious names and pawn landlords in order to avoid responsibility.

“Since the enactment of Act 90, irresponsible and dishonest landowners have explored numerous schemes to avoid taking responsibility for the maintenance or condition of their property,” Argall said. “This step would allow local governments to identify some of the worst offenders and ensure they are held liable for the damage they cause to our communities. This is another tool, in addition to the package of anti-blight bills this committee approved in June, that municipalities can use to continue our statewide ‘War on Blight.’”

The legislation would close loopholes exposed since the creation of the Neighborhood Blight Reclamation and Revitalization Act and offer another significant resource for local governments to combat blight, Argall said.

“I remain committed to doing all I can to keep positive momentum going in our fight against blight,” Masser said. “This bill aims to help the productivity of the Blight Act that has been met with success, so that it can further fight blight in municipalities. Blight is a major concern in the area I represent, and we have a lot of work ahead of us.”

In addition to closing these loopholes, the bill would remove unnecessary and burdensome procedural requirements which make it more difficult for municipalities to prosecute out-of-state property owners. Under the measure, a property owner facing citations for code violations who lives outside of Pennsylvania may be extradited to the Commonwealth to face criminal charges relating to the violations.

House Bill 2120 was sent to the full Senate.