LATROBE (KDKA) — Authorities in Latrobe are considering legislation that would impose fines on landlords in charge of nuisance properties.
In Latrobe, when it comes to repeated calls to 911 for police service, there are few places that match the apartment building on Main Street.
“Three, four times an night to the same residence,” said Latrobe Mayor Rosie Wolford. “Five, six times a week. It’s frustrating to the police.”
That’s why the city is now considering a new ordinance, which called for landlords to be held more accountable for the tenants they are renting to.
“We’ve been here so many times, how about taking care of the problem so we don’t have to take care of the problem anymore,” said Latrobe Police Chief Jim Bumar.
The calls for service vary.
“Disturbance calls, violence calls and drug- and alcohol-related calls,” said Chief Bumar.
But Latrobe’s police chief says the problem isn’t isolated to that apartment building alone.
“It’s all over,” he says.
And, according to the city, the nuisance properties are nearly always rental properties with certain ownership.
“It’s the absentee landlords that we tend to have issues with,” Mayor Wolford said.
Details are still being hammered out, but, if adopted, the statute calls first for a face-to-face meeting with the problem property owner to address the issues and find a solution.
“If the landlord is unwilling to work with us, doesn’t call us back, or isn’t willing to do anything, then there’s fines associated with it,” the mayor said.
The amounts of such fines are still being worked out, but city leaders say they will be significant to compel correction. With all that said, police in Latrobe want to make one thing clear.
“This is not for to discourage victims of a crime from calling for help,” Chief Bumar said.
Similar ordinances already exist in the cities of Washington and California, Pennsylvania.
While the statute is still being crafted, the mayor hopes to get it in front of City Council, and possibly see approval of it, sometime early next year.