Wherever there is reason to believe that a drug-related nuisance exists, the district attorney, the Attorney General, if requested by a district attorney, the solicitor for the county or municipality, a resident within 1,000 feet of the property, including a tenant of the property, the owner of property or any community-based organization may file an action in the court of common pleas to abate, enjoin and prevent the drug-related nuisance. Such actions shall be commenced by the filing of a complaint alleging the facts constituting the drug-related nuisance.
The community is asking these governmental entities to take responsiblily to guide residents in collecting and reporting evidence by working together.
We are asking the Montgomery County district attorney to take action, on behalf of residents, good tenants and community based organizations by filing complaints against the owners of drug-related nuisance properties.
(a) Adverse impact.–The complaint or an affidavit attached thereto shall describe the adverse impact associated with the drug nuisance upon the surrounding neighborhood. Adverse impact includes, without limitation, the presence of any one or more of the following conditions:
(1) Diminished property value.
(2) Increased fear of residents to walk through and in public areas, including sidewalks and streets, increased volume of vehicular and pedestrian traffic to and from the property.
(3) An increase in the number of ambulance or police calls to the property which are related to the use of drugs or to violence stemming from illegal activity.
(4) Increased noise, bothersome solicitors or approaches by persons wishing to sell drugs or solicit the donation of money on or near the property.
(5) The display of dangerous weapons on or near the property.
(6) The discharge of firearms on or near the property.
(7) Search warrants served on tenants or occupants of the property which resulted in the seizure of drugs.
(8) Investigative purchases of drugs on or near the property by law enforcement officers.
(9) Arrests of person on or near the property for violation of criminal laws.
(10) Housing code violations relating to the property.
(11) Health code violations relating to the property.
(12) Accumulated trash and refuse in common areas on or adjacent to the property.
(13) An unsecured entryway on the property.
Homeowners, good landlords and law abiding tenants in Ward One, at minimum, can attest that these 13 conditions exist in many rental properties surrouding our own properties. As more rental properties are purchased by absentee owners, other wards are seeing an increase in the conditions, listed in the statute.
(c) Additional remedies.–If the existence of a drug-related nuisance is found, the court shall have the power additionally to fashion any one or more of the following remedies:
(1) Assess costs of the action against the defendant.
(2) When a governmental agency is a plaintiff in the action, assess a civil penalty against the defendant of not less than $500 nor more than $10,000.
(3) Order the owner to clean up the property and make repairs upon the property.
(4) Suspend or revoke any business, professional, operational or liquor license.
(5) Order the owner to make additional reasonable expenditures upon the property, including, but not limited to, installing secure locks on doors, increasing lighting in common areas and using videotaped surveillance of the property and adjacent alleyways, sidewalks and parking lots.
(6) Order all rental income from the property to be placed in an escrow account with the court for up to 90 days or until the drug-related nuisance is abated.
(7) Order all rental income for the property transferred to a trustee, to be appointed by the court, who shall be empowered to use the rental income to make reasonable expenditures upon the property in order to abate the drug-related nuisance.
(8) Order the suspension of any State, city or local governmental subsidies payable to the owners of the property, such as tenant assistance payments to landlords, until the nuisance is abated.
(9) Allow the plaintiff to seal the property with the cost of sealing payable by the defendant.
(10) Order the defendant to pay the plaintiff the cost of the suit, including reasonable attorney fees.
(d) Factors to consider.–In making an order under subsection (c), the court shall consider, among others, the following factors:
(1) The number of people residing at the property.
(2) The proximity of the property to other residential structures.
(3) The number of times the property has been cited for housing code or health code violations.
(4) The number of times the owner has been notified of drug-related problems at the property.
(5) The extent and duration of the drug-related nuisance at the time of the order.
(6) Prior efforts or lack of effort by the defendant to abate the drug-related nuisance.
(7) The availability of alternative housing for tenants of the building.
(8) The extent of concern about the drug-related nuisance that has been expressed by nearby residents or visitors to the area.
(9) The owner’s involvement in the drug-related nuisance.
(10) The owner’s involvement in other drug-related nuisances.
The owners of drug nuisance properties must be held accountable for their neglect and the costs of their negligence to law abiding property owners.
DOING NOTHING SENDS THE WRONG MESSAGE TO THE COMMUNITY OF CONCERNED CITIZENS.
June 1, 2015
100 E. High St. – Borough Hall – 3rd Floor
The inertia and omissions of local government and politicians who are aware of the dangerously declining conditions in Pottstown’s rental housing equates to egregious, deliberate indifference to the loss of proeprty values, safety and every measure of the loss of quality-of-life for good citizens and conscientious property owners that abide by the laws.
The photo’s on the golden cockroach blog depict ongoing violations of codes that exist in thousands of rental properties in Pottstown. Little to nothing has improved over the past five years that I have documented the violations and the stories of renters and homeowners.
The decline, in fact, has become blatantly palpable to even the most causal observers. But, for those of us that are subjected to the demise of our neigbhorhoods every day, the decline has evoked a much less quiet desperation that’s evolving into a very vocal cry for help.
The children living in these conditions have suffered significant damage to their health. Children are exposed to high levels of mold, rodent and vermin infestations exacerbate asthma, bed bugs that cause allergic reactions for some kids, raw sewage, dangerous electrical wiring, improperly set hot water heaters and lack of heat, (see Kenneth Kaufman in the link above).
Multiple violations exist in every unit that I have witnessed, often unaddressed even after a codes inspection has taken place. There’s no follow up by L & I in many, many situations. Landlords who systematically break the laws do so because they know there is no consequence for their decisions.
Strong arm illegal evictions and disregard for safety codes and Landlord/Tenant law is rampant among negative investors in Pottstown.
The owners of these properties have caused…continue to cause…health and economic loss to renters. They are costing homeowner/occupants the loss of property values, loss of quiet enjoyment, loss of tax money and services. We are increasingly exposed to greater potential for life and property threatening catastrophe’s, such as fire, flood damage, exposure to raw sewage and crimes.
The actions of the defendant property owner, in the lawsuit filed by the States Attorney General, is a crime that parallels the crimes of hundreds if not thousands of income property owners in our own Pennsylvania community.
I am encouraged by the proactive stance from Attorney General, Kathleen Kane, with regards to the actions of the slumlord defendant. We will take our plight as far up the ladder as necessary to protect our sanity and our investments.
NOTE: A local law firm has offered to hold a workshop for renters, at no cost. It’s in the conceptual phase. When we’ve worked out the details I’ll update with the time, date and location.
I ask renters, all residents, to continue to contact the local L & I department, contact me if you need guidance and start filing complaints with the Bureau of Consumer Protection by calling 1-800-441-2555, or submitting an online complaint at www.attorneygeneral.gov
HARRISBURG — Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane today announced her office has filed a lawsuit against a Pittsburgh landlord and his businesses amid allegations that he rented uninhabitable rental properties to tenants, many of whom were Bhutanese refugees.
The lawsuit against Davin N. Gartley, Davin Investments, Inc. and R.A.E.D. Investments, Inc. alleges violations of the Consumer Protection Law and the Landlord Tenant Act.
Specifically, Gartley is accused of failing to provide required utility services, failure to abate lead exposure and failure to maintain properties in accordance with requirements of the Allegheny County Health Department and the City of Pittsburgh Bureau of Building Inspectors. The lawsuit also alleges Gartley failed to return tenant security deposits.
The lawsuit seeks refunds of security deposits and refunds for rental payments made by tenants during time periods when their rental units were uninhabitable. The lawsuit further seeks to permanently ban Gartley and his businesses from leasing residential rental properties and owning or operating any business that lease residential rental properties.
The lawsuit was filed in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas by Senior Deputy Attorney General Amy L. Schulman, of the Office of Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
Consumers who feel they were victimized by Gartley or his businesses are encouraged to file a complaint with the Bureau of Consumer Protection by calling 1-800-441-2555, or submitting an online complaint at www.attorneygeneral.gov
THE SLUMINATOR OF 501/503 AND 438 KING ST.
So the people that moved out of 438 King St. left bags o’ trash sitting out front for a week.
They came back on Saturday to finish “cleaning” out the house and they dumped all their trash and gar-baaage on the street in front of the rental.
Naturally, over the course of a couple warmish nights the vermin and other animals scattered this feast of putrid vile-ness all over the frickin’ block.
By contrast, the MontCo property records list this mailing address as the home of Kenneth Kaufman. This tidy and trim faux suburban english tutor at 3780 Levi Lane in Lower Moreland is where this slumass hangs his apron.
Looks like the life O’Reilly where Ken hangs his chef hat at the end of a teaching day at the Western Montgomery Career and Tech Center in Limerick. You aren’t gonna find gooey slime piled up in front of his little faux english tutor in the ‘burbs.
Slum Soufflé Anyone?
Ken buys a couple income properties in Pottstown, back in the early 2000’s, and turns them into rat traps. Get a load of this!!!
After the vermin scattered the rancid garbage (sitting out in the hot 80 + degree days) KEN SHOWS UP, this afternoon in his pickup, just minutes before Mascaro shows up to haul the trash away and, he’s got a FOR RENT sign burnin’ a hole in his pocket.
Ken’s carefully pickin’ his way around the SLOP that his tenants left behind when ….
@@@ ZAP @@@@ KA-POW @@@ KENNETH MEETS Larry…
That would be my good neighbor, Larry Hespeth, who lives a couple doors down from this hot mess of a rental house.
Anybody that knows Larry knows Larry cuts straight to the heart of the matter – Larry sees the FOR RENT sign in Ken’s hand and thinks to himself: ‘ surely there’s no way he’s puttin’ a FOR RENT sign on that hunk-o-stink house. But, sure ‘nuf…
Ken let’s himself in, for about as long as he can manager to hold his breath, to put the sign in the front window and narrowly escape the human filth fumes only to find Larry…
With his broom, leaf blower and a giant trash bag. Larry had started to clean up Ken’s frickin’ mess just before Ken arrived.
“You gonna put a sign up before you even clean up the place, get an inspection and do some work to the place? You been around back to see the mess? That house stinks so bad you can smell it outside, all up and down the street.”
“You ever check up on your property when people are living in it?”
Ken: “yeah I’m here once a month.” (Ken collects the rent – he didn’t fool Larry who knows the dude does no maintenance).
Larry: Dude, this block is an extension of my home and I don’t like living like a pig.”
Ken says: “What’s your name?”
Larry: “My name’s Larry, Larry Hespeth”
Larry: “What’s your name?”
Larry: “Ken what?
Ken: “My last name is none of your business.”
Sharp-as-a-mashed-potato, Ken stomps off – jumps in his truck – puts the pedal to the metal leaving his pig pen and the good neighbors in the dust, he didn’t lift a finger to pick up any trash, to take resonsiblity for the toxic waste site in front of HIS property.
But, the good neighbors lifted a finger… the middle finger… in salute to sluminator, Ken Kaufman, on his way down the street. Larry went back to work cleaning up the street and sidewalk in front of Ken’s property.
**Neighbors pulled up while Larry was talking to Ken and they were like “Larry!!!! hey go get him tiger – teach the scumbucket that scruples aren’t something you sprinkle on your corn flakes in the morning.”
Larry laid it on Ken’s raggedy old slumass but good – Ken’s behavior is so low – like he’d steal the nickels off a dead man’s eyes.
I missed the action by mere minutes. Got outside to ask Larry what’s going on and Mascaro pulled up – took everything except the blowing around, scatter trash which Larry was fixin’ to clean up.
That’s Larry cleaning up after Kenneth “aintgonnatellyoumylastname” Kaufman at 438 King St. 4/4/2015
YEAH – HE CLEANED UP AFTER KENNETH KAUFMAN. SEND HIM A BILL LARRY!!!
Because my neighbor, Larry Hespeth, has more humanity, dignity, honesty and gumption than Kenneth Kaufman has in his pinky fingernail or, all the parasites in Pottstown lumped together in the back of a big red Mascaro truck, he picked up after the slumlords tenants.
That’s some kind of rancid tomatoes mixed with a white-ish ectoplasmic goo in that photo below. It looks an awful lot like raw chicken laying in the tall weeds in the back yard where the former tenants undecoriously threw some of their food stuff. Bugs are swarming all over it while the odor of rot wafts throughtout the block.
And you know??? The nice, clean, quiet little old lady that lives next door HAS TO SMELL THIS SHIT everyday.
If there were ever a slumlord that I’d like to have as a neighbor it would be Kenneth Kaufman. If some smart and righteous judge were to order him to live in his own filth for a month or two, me, Larry and all the other good neighbors on our block would find a smidge of vidication.
Why we’d have to throw Ken Kaufman a block partay, Pottstown style, with pig on a spit over an open fire. Oink Snort. Ken can provide the pig rub, something he’s probably skilled at seein’ as how he is a culinary arts instructor.
KENNETH KAUFMAN IS PRACTICALLY FAMOUS ON THIS BLOG FOR HIS DEEP, ABIDING DISREGARD AND DISDAIN FOR THE PEOPLE OF POTTSTOWN. Sit on it and spin…
Eric Weiss said his 30 years of code enforcement in Allentown found most code enforcement problems were with RENTAL AND ABANDONED BUILDINGS, such as this one in the 400 block of Chestnut Street in Pottstown.
photo by Evan Brandt
There are politicians and aides to politicians, the county and the big monied real estate industry contributing to this blight in Pottstown, there are unsavory connections.
In some areas of the country savvy attorneys and community law centers find success prosecuting heinous, parasitic income property owners.
What does Pottstown borough do? They send their attorney to court, (at taxpayer expense), to stand up to a homeowner who cut down the trees on their property without a permit.
I can guarantee you, with all certainty, that situation did not threaten me or impact my quality of life in Pottstown like officials who continue to neglect to protect good investors and prosecute – or do anything they have to do – to reign in the negative investors.
“Accusing a landlord of defrauding the Department of Water and Power out of millions of dollars and escaping responsibility for substandard conditions in his building through a complex web of sham corporations, “self-foreclosures” and retaliatory evictions.”
ALL OF THESE THINGS HAPPEN IN POTTSTOWN with regularity = year after year after year and local officials can’t or won’t figure it out? So what do officials do? They hold a meeting, (that most residents can’t attend because it was held during work hours, last Wednesday). The meeting, (see Evan’s articles below), was ostensibly hosted by council but they didn’t mention this at any public meeting, did they?
Only one council person was there.
Presumably, officials in attendance listened as, once again, people with experience told officials what they’ve heard before:
That THEY, borough government, has to get the housing under control.
THEY HAVE TO DO IT. How many times do they have to be told what they already know or, pay for another study to tell them what they should already know?
The borough was lauded for their ordinances at the meeting:
3 x’s and “your out” for nasty tenants who suck up police services and, oh yeah, the charge back to slumlords for not regulating their renters. Oridnances that might suggest that officials are on the ball, except = those ordinances are never enforced. Some citizens believe they won’t enforce them because they are afraid of lawsuits from slumlords. Afraid??
This was part of the “Loto’s” compound on the corner of King and Washington Sts. This is 450 King St. owned by Alyssa Levin aka Chagall Living, LLC. This is what a strong arm eviction looks like.
So, we continue to see local government play tiddly winks with slumlords. They appear to be fearful to make a move because year after year the parasitic investors rear their ugly heads to threaten the borough with lawsuits.
REALLY. Is that the reason? I have to tell you, the following comment chaps my hide… but good.
Keith Place, director of L & I in Pottstown: “Place told the summit last week that the Better Landlord program is still under review by borough staff, that there is concern about legal challenges.”
Are we to believe that officials are so intimidated by the Pottstown leaches that they are paralyzed in their efforts or… is this just more obfuscation?
Is the lack of transparency, the excuses… are they just another attempt to cover up embarrassing or scandalous truth?
The PPD and a slew of other law enforcement agencies play “whack a mole” with drug dealers, shooters, gangs and other criminals who, for all we know, (for all the borough knows), continue to move into and occupy any one, or all, of the 2500 – or so – unregulated rental properties in Pottstown. While the crooks are paying cash to other crooks, under the table, for a hideout …
THE BOROUGH CLAIMS TO BE INTIMIDATED BY A POTENTIAL LAWSUIT?
What a sham.
That’s an affront to every resident that is truly intimidated and frightened by the never ending crime and debauchery in this town.
Every day that the borough neglects to get a grip on the negative investors is another day they hang themselves out to dry – adding to the crime – the potential for serious harm to innocent victims and, the very real potential for seriously massive lawsuits that accompany the risk they take.
But, we are asked to believe that borough management and elected officials are shaking in their boots under threat from the omnipotent Pottstown slumlords? I don’t buy it.
We have a local official (s) (maybe more than one), that intervened in a situation where a slumlord should have been given violations and wasn’t. The slumord is…. a friend of the official and he is also a man who is a purveyor of filth and crime, for over a decade, in his dangerous rental properties in Pottstown.
Could these friendships and affiliations be the REAL reason the borough drags their feet? That deserves an answer, not platitudes.
“But you know, the mayor was a landlord and one of the other council members owned a few properties and they were, well, let’s just say they were not particularly enthusiastic,” said Eric Weiss, at last Wednesday’s meeting.
In September it will be FIVE FULL YEARS that the cockroach has been sounding the ALARM, telling the stories of residents who are too afraid to do it themselves.
From renters to homeowners and even good landlords who are stuck in this filthy web of negligence, they are all prey to the out-of-control renters, criminals, slumlords and borough governments excuses.
Their truths, their struggles have fallen on deaf ears.
Not a new borough manager, not a $33,000 codes study, not a new director of License and Inspections, not firing the lien and clean guys, not featuring these atrocities on my blog, not even the possibly of implementing a proven, successful program such as the Better Landlords, (that was researched and vetted by citizens of Pottstown), who are among the stakeholders in this community…
…NOTHING has rocked the faulty foundation of this borough government, not common sense and certainly not wisdom.
What we potentially have here, at minimum, is the complicity of those who are easily fooled, who should know better, who are PAID and ELECTED to know better and do better.
But, let the borough officials hold meeting after meeting and pay for another study – at least it looks to the outside world – as if they give a bats left foot about our struggles.
Another intersting fact: Citizens were not given the same opportunity to do a full council presentation about the Better Landlord Program, despite the hours and hours of work and research they put into the project.
Instead, they were relegated to a committee meeting.
Yet, this month, the full council was privy to a presentation by a company, that makes the claim they can “harass” banks into registering foreclosed properties. Their proposition was recieved by council as though it were as good as caviar on a golden platter, (as staff wiped the sweat off their over worked brows, thanking their lucky stars that THEY don’t have to figure out how to harass blighted property owners).
THAT has totally left the impression that the borough doesn’t have the backbone to take control of the slum property owners or the blighted property owners themselves. If this company is sucessful, more power to the people.
Why are officials looking for the silver bullet and contracting with outside companies? Do they understand the complexities well enough to know if the contractor is doing the work they signed on to do, or not? There has to be some education curve for officials in that process. Hell, at the outside, the contractor can look like the bad guys, right?
So why does council authorize the expenditure of tax dollars, in ginormous sums, thrown at a management team that demonstrates they know how to hold a meeting, pay for a study but they can’t and won’t take control of these situations?
Apparently, they can’t manage their way out of a paper bag.
Taxpayers could, theoretically, sub-out everything, at less cost, and let private businesses do the heavy lifting, right? Isn’t that the philosophy here?
Why does the borough manager turn around and chide a resident of this town, a businessman who’s knowledgable and capable and willing to help the borough get on a better track? Why try to diminish residents by calling them “negative”? Switch and Bait – (once again).
We want to talk about what ails this town and the viable solutions but, they only want to turn the tables and call us negative, haters or apathetic.
Officials hand off maudlin excuses that distort the facts that we, the residents of Pottstown, intrinsically know to be truth because we live the truth every single day.
At one time there was serious potential for the codes dept. and citizens to work together on these issues.
Not any more.
For the past 3 years, communication and information sharing from local government has been locked down tight – trying to find out where they stand on ANYTHING is like trying to pry an oyster open with your bare hands.
The problems with slum housing owners and diminishing transparency in local government are #’s one and two of the most atrocious health and safety threats to this community.
From fire hazards, crime, raw sewage (freely running on sidewalks and in storm drains) to the infestations of bed bugs and vermin in rental properties. Our loss of property values and quality of life, the loss of tax revenue and homeowners, borough government doesn’t want to discuss it with you and that leaves only speculation about what, if anything, is being done.
The streets and alleys are filthier than ever, there is more illegal dumping than I ever recall and the borough’s own properties, (see the lot across from Pottsgrove Manor), reflect borough governments own discombobulation and chaos. In fact, a resident retrieved an old beat up t.v. from that property just to give the area a better appearance when it was clear that the borough had no concern.
SHOW ME A PLAN AND A PROCESS.
THIS COMMUNITY DESERVES ANSWERS. WE DESERVE ANSWERS NOW. WE ARE NOT GOING AWAY.