On June 23, West Whiteland Township's Codes department held an open house regarding the adoption of a Property Maintenance Code (PMC).
What is the property maintenance code?
The Property Maintenance Code (PMC) is part of the International Code Council (ICC) family of codes that addresses minimum standards for continued use and maintenance of existing building elements and structures. It would apply to all existing residential and non-residential structures and facilities located within the Township. The goal is NOT to place additional maintenance burden on the property owner, as many components of the code already exist in our existing Township ordinances.
A PMC would provide a defined resource that supports the maintenance of existing properties.
A PMC offers the following benefits:
- ensure existing structures maintain a standard of compliance and safety
- provide objective clarity for neighbor disputes
- maintain property values and community pride
- support the Township's mission to prioritize safety and quality of life
Following are some frequently asked questions about the property maintenance code.
Q: If unsafe conditions are found at a property, how does the Township currently respond?
A: Once the Township receives notification (typically through a complaint) an inspector conducts an observation of the property. If a violation of the PMC is found a letter is sent to the property owner outlining what violations were observed. The property owner is given a time frame to correct the violation(s). This time frame could range from 5 to 30 days depending on the violation. A follow-up observation is conducted after the violation is corrected.. If the violation is not corrected the Township could issue citations.
Q: What would the adoption of the Code change?
A: Adoption of the 2018 PMC would provide for a more definable resource for the Township staff. It would cover common complaints such as accumulation of rubbish on exterior property areas, maintenance of exterior of buildings as well as areas of electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems that are not currently covered under any Township code or ordinance.
Q: What assistance is available for the property owners?
A: The Township is working with several local nonprofit groups that would aid either through monetary assistance or labor assistance depending on the nature of the situation. The assistance proposal would be apart of the adoption of the PMC
Q: How is a junkyard defined? Who makes the determination?
A: A “junkyard” is a type of property use covered under zoning. For determining whether a property is not being maintained (i.e. accumulation of rubbish) the code official would look at the property and then refer to the PMC to determine if a violation exists.
Q: Why can grass not grow over twelve inches high and how was this number determined?
The current ordinance § 325-24(i) has a height restriction not to exceed eight inches in height. The adoption of the PMC would not be more stringent. All ordinances are typically proposed by staff and presented to the Board of Supervisors for approval and adoption.
Q: Will taxes go up?
A: No, a tax increase is not planned in accordance with the adoption of the 2018 PMC.
Q: Will additional funding be needed because the Code has been adopted?
A: In a worst case scenario, a PMC could result in additional legal fees and court costs if a dispute were to arise.
Q: Is there any protection for Landlords under the PMC?
A: The PMC would provide a consistent and nationally recognized set of standards for both the landlord and tenant. The landlord is protected by PA state law.
Q: How do we enforce all PMC codes equally?
A: The enforcement of the PMC will follow a consistent standard of evaluation utilizing the code language to the situation presented.
Q: When will the Board of Supervisors vote on the adoption?
A: Advertisement will be placed in the paper thirty days prior to the BOS voting on the proposed adoption of the PMC. Any public meetings or discussions involving the PMC will be promoted via the Township's web page, social media, and eNews (sign up for eNews).
Some properties with ongoing issues have been identified. In these instances, the adoption of the PMC would help enforce clean-up.
- Trash blowing from the parking lot of Fairfield Place, blowing down Swedesford Rd.
- Dumpsters in Fairfield Place and other shopping centers with overflowing trash
- Abandoned home on Boot Rd. with graffiti on the side
- Other abandoned properties within the Township
- New developments and builders not containing their trash
If you have questions, please contact the Codes Department at firstname.lastname@example.org or 610-363-9525.
Updates regarding the PMC will be posted on our website, social media and eNews. Sign up to receive eNews updates.