Legislative Update in Pennsylvania

September 19, 2016Articles In the Zone

House Bill No. 1863 proposes to amend the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code (MPC) by allowing municipalities to more broadly define hotels in their zoning ordinances.

Representative Tina M. Davis, who represents a portion of Bucks County from the 141st District of Pennsylvania and is one of the sponsors of House Bill No. 1863, wrote in a memorandum summarizing the proposed legislation that “[o]ur communities are under siege by fly-by-night rental units. The owners are taking advantage of the downturn in the housing market to snatch up distressed properties, convert them into boarding houses and pack them with as many weekly renters as possible. […]. The short-term nature of these rental situations creates an environment for tenants who are not invested in our communities. The sheer number of tenants that are being crammed into these units are creating traffic and safety concerns for neighboring homeowners and leading to a deteriorating quality of life in our neighborhoods. This legislation attempts to give municipalities a tool to provide better accountability and safety to keep these tenants and our neighborhoods out of harm’s way. … This bill does not mandate a zoning change but simply gives the municipalities another zoning option.”

Specifically, House Bill No. 1863 proposes to add the following language to the MPC as Section 603(m): “A zoning ordinance may allow a municipality to classify as a hotel for zoning purposes any residential rental property that has a lease term of less than one month and to restrict the location of the hotel accordingly. This subsection may not apply where the individuals residing in the building are related to the building owner by blood, marriage, adoption or guardianship.”

As for the status of House Bill No. 1863, it was referred to the local government committee, where it remains.