BEECH CREEK TOWNSHIP — Local officials are taking action against a landlord in Clinton County who refused to fill his oil tank and instead gave tenants space heaters to keep warm. They’re hoping to prevent a situation like this from happening again.
Commissioners say they want every municipality in Clinton County to adopt a statewide code that requires landlords to provide tenants with a primary source of heat.
The code is not enforced in Beech Creek Township, where Susan Viloria and her neighbors rent their apartments.
Susan Viloria is enjoying her warm apartment near Lock Haven. The grandmother says she and the two families who live in the apartment house did not have heat for almost two weeks. Instead of buying them more oil for their furnace, their landlord Dave Mayes brought them space heaters.
“Very nervous. I’m worried about if I’m going to have to move. What’s he going to do next?”
Several agencies got involved in the situation, including Clinton County Children and Youth. Because young children live in the apartment house the agency used about $2,000 from its emergency fund o have the oil tank refilled.
The Clinton County commissioners are also taking action.
“So that they don’t have to worry about a landlord treating them like this, not providing heat for them, especially when children and the elderly are involved,” said Clinton County Commissioner Jeffrey Snyder.
According to a Clinton County code enforcement officer, there is a statewide code that requires landlords to provide tenants with a primary source of heat that is either gas, electric, fuel or oil. But if a municipality does not adopt this code, it cannot be enforced.
Newswatch 16 spoke to a supervisor in Beech Creek Township who says that ordinance is not in effect in the township. But a commissioner in Clinton County says he hopes to change that.
“We’ll reach out to all the municipalities and encourage them to enact that ordinance so this never happens again to our citizens without having some protection,” Snyder added.
As for Susan Viloria, she says she is happy the authorities are involved and she has gotten a lot of support since her story aired on Newswatch 16.
“‘Are you OK?’ ‘What do you need and what can we help you with?’ Right now it’s looking for a home.”
The director of Clinton County Children and Youth says the agency will pursue legal action against Mayes to get back the money it spent on refilling the tank with oil.
Commissioners advise that if anyone else is having similar problems, they should contact their office.