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Philadelphia City Council Puts Slumlord Issue In The Spotlight

(File photo.  Credit: Tony Hanson)

(File photo. Credit: Tony Hanson)

Mike Dunn Mike Dunn
Mike Dunn is City Hall bureau chief for KYW Newsradio 1060. He covers...
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By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A City Council committee today put a microscope on the long-running dilemma of negligent and absentee landlords — though some landlords testified that they face negligent tenants.

The lengthy examination of slumlords was called by Sixth District Councilman Bobby Henon, who said negligent and often unlicensed landlords are causing blight and cheating the city.

“The persistence of these problems is proof that something is broken and it needs to be fixed,” he said Wednesday.

Economist Kevin Gillen testified that homeowners living near neglected rental properties often suffer.

“It becomes a domino effect, where you have one problem property turning in to an entire block of problem properties,” Gillen testified. “And then, there goes the neighborhood.”

Henon even subpoenaed four landlords who have had violations in his district. Two of them testified, one refused, and one could not be found.

But the local landlords’ association Hapco testified that its members are struggling with high taxes, declining rents, theft, and tenants who don’t treat the properties properly.

Joan Levin is a landlord of several properties in Kensington.

“I had a house where, in a period of 24 hours, they took the house heater, they took the bathtub, they took the water heater, they took the kitchen cabinets,” she said.

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