Allegheny County Council Candidate Joanna Doven Calls For Creation Of ‘Anti-Predatory Landlord’ Legislation
Doven will introduce legislation within first 100 days to protect tenants from predatory landlords.
(PITTSBURGH, PA) May 10 County Council At-Large Candidate Joanna Doven announced efforts she will lead on County Council to protect tenants from predatory landlords. In Allegheny County, about 35% of residents are renters, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And due to a shortage of rental housing supply, especially for affordable, quality rental housing, tenants may be victimized.
If elected, in her first 100 days, Doven will collaborate with colleagues and fair housing advocacy groups to introduce “Anti-Predatory Landlord” legislation. Doven wants a public registry that informs renters of landlords who illegally withheld security deposits, are delinquent in paying their own bills, namely, county property taxes, and who have violated local occupancy standards. Pennsylvania Law allows landlords to collect two-months rent as a security deposit. The average rent for a Pittsburgh apartment is about $1400. When a landlord improperly holds a security deposit and doesn’t provide a written notice of it or as to why, Pennsylvania Statute of the Landlord-Tenant Act says the damages are double.
“Sadly, some landlords don’t pay their own taxes, yet steal residents’ security deposits,” informing that her opponent is the landlord of three properties, all of which are delinquent on county property tax payments. In addition, her opponent has withheld at least one tenant security deposit, according to magistrate filings. “There must be better protections for our vulnerable rental populations. Local officials must do all they can to ensure renters know their rights and that predatory landlords’ feet are held to the fire.”
According to Allegheny County Analytics, 73 percent of landlord–tenant cases filed are for overdue rent alone, versus lease violations. Doven also wants the county to create a single-point of contact for landlords who know their tenants are experiencing mental health problems and need help.
“Mental health is now the number one comorbidity in Allegheny County. We must better connect tenants with county resources so that they can stay healthy, stay employed, and stay in their homes. At the same time, good landlords should also be educated and empowered to help their tenants. This is about protecting our vulnerable rental population,” said Doven.
Last year, the Biden administration put forward a blueprint for a “Renters’ Bill of Rights” at the federal level. Doven wants to make sure such county legislation ensures renters have access to resources that help avoid eviction, ensure fair proceedings, and help prevent future housing instability.