PA House Bill 809 sponsored by State Rep Susan Helm of Dauphin and Lebanon Counties will change college rental restrictions if passed.
Helm’s proposed legislation claims that it is discriminatory for municipalities to single out students with rental regulations and would short-circuit any municipal ordinance that prohibits the occupation of a dwelling unity by students or unrelated individuals living together.
The proposed legislation would allow a municipality to enact and enforce ordinances that regulate things like noise levels, parking, and health and safety concerns. House Bill 809 addresses municipal rental restrictions that single out students, suggesting that this is discriminatory, based on an assumption that they will be problem neighbors.
PA House Bill 809 would override any current municipal housing ordinances that restrict the use of single-family homes, as college student rentals. The proposed legislation states that a municipality would not be able to prohibit the occupation of a dwelling based on an individual’s matriculation status (that is, if they are enrolled in college) or on the number of unrelated individuals sharing the property.
In the Mt. Pleasant community of Tredyffrin Township, the conversion of traditionally family-occupied homes to student rental properties has led to ongoing problems among the neighbors. Beyond the late-night noise, increased traffic, liter, illegal parking, the permanent residents of Mt. Pleasant are frustrated with the increasing number of student rentals and what they view as the adverse effects caused by the influx of students.
Because of the ongoing citizen complaints in Mt. Pleasant, Tredyffrin Township passed two ordinances in 2010, which placed zoning restrictions on the student rentals as a way to protect the rights of the permanent residents in the township.
Tredyffrin’s Registration Ordinance requires all homeowners in the township who rent to students to register with the township. The registration requires contact information on the student including the college/university/trade school the renter attends and contact information for the dean of students at the student’s school.
The township’s Zoning Ordinance for student housing is specific and states that all homeowners who wish to rent to students need special-exception approval from the Zoning Hearing Board. The properties must have at least a 10-foot buffer around the home, no more than three student tenants and a specified minimum distance from other student homes.
After many meetings and much discussion, Tredyffrin’s supervisors, residents and property owners, agreed on the township’s student zoning regulations but if Rep Helm has her way, House Bill 809 would override the the ordinances. If the House Bill 809 passes, where would this leave Mt. Pleasant community and its residents?