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Dunmore Adopts “One-Strike” Rule For Drug Activity At Rental Units

DUNMORE — Officials in Dunmore are sending a strong message to tenants having drug activity inside their rental unit.

Adopting a “one-strike and you`re out” rule, borough council said tenants caught with drugs inside their homes will be kicked out and the properties they are renting could be condemned for up to six months.

“We don`t want these people coming into our area, setting up shop in an apartment and distributing drugs out of them,” said council member Michael Dempsey.

“For our police department, this gives them another tool against drugs,” said council member Paul Nardozzi.

Council says it was a drug bust at an apartment on Prescott Avenue back in March that prompted them to update its rental ordinance.

Police say after a man fired shots at his ex-girlfriend at the rental unit, officers found drugs, including heroin, marijuana and ecstasy inside.

Council says both Scranton and Wilkes-Barre adopted their own one-strike rule.

For some people living in the borough, they say if tenants are using and or selling drugs inside their apartments, they should be thrown out.

“Dunmore is a nice area and we`d like to keep it that way,” said Clyde Latimore.

“That`s great, we got to get the drugs out of the area. So if you`re selling drugs out of your house,” said Elizabeth Enlo.

Others aren`t sure it would actually make a difference.

“Okay if they condemn it, it`s still, I mean, and then when they uncondemn are they just going to move back in? I just think it`s cycle continuing, it`s a step but it is the right step?” said Joann Summa.

But council says this rule will encourage landlords to be more aware of the tenants they chose.

“It was not meant to punish landlords, it is to protect the citizens of Dunmore, the children of Dunmore and to make landlords accountable for who they are renting to,” said Dempsey.

Council says landlords have the right to appeal the closure of a property, first to borough council then at the Lackawanna County Courthouse.

36 comments

  • Danielle Ruckle

    So not trying to punish the landlord Huh. Well lets suppose a tenant gets popped with selling a dime bag when splitting his sac. Now the landlord loses rent for six months and the tenant who doesnt even deal needs to find a new apartment. Lets get real people everyone knows someone who smokes some pot on occasion. Hell states are legalizing all over the USA. As for harder drugs i never done them but where do you draw the line. POLICE STATE PENNSYLVANIA

  • Jer Tobin

    This is pure backwards thinking NEPA nonsense at its best/worse. Even if I was a landlord who lived right next to my tenant, How is it my responsibility to in essence attempt to violate their privacy and keep tabs on him to make sure that he doesn’t do something illegal in their PRIVATE LIVES which would then cause ME to be punished? Being a landlord DOES NOT and SHOULD NOT and I argue CANNOT give you carte blanche to be your tenant’s keeper. Please try and wrap your brain around this before you argue this point.

    You can say don’t rent to people that look like scumbags, but that’s setting you up for a discrimination suit AND I hope people are smart enough to realize that looks are deceiving.

    The fact that a tenant could come home one day after buying drugs and having the cops tailing him there or something which would then drop the hammer on YOU is just insane.

  • Fred Astiaire

    If no one did drugs – the dealers would not be here because there is no money to be made.
    People WANT to smoke pot, snort cocaine, shoot up heroin, etc. and the dealers FILL THE NEED. They will drive 2 hours to make $15,000 or so selling to 35 year old Johnny living in his mom and dad’s $300,000 home. And Johnny will become a distributor because rather than make $9 per hour as a stock boy, making thousands in non-taxable cash in a few days.

    We are just too lazy and unwilling to address the REAL problem of drug USE.
    Wilkes-Barre has the one strike law – did that eliminate drugs and violence?? Of course not – it got worse. The same goes for Scranton. There are strict gun laws, yet a 16 year old bought a handgun in New Jersey from a gang member and murdered a taxi driver. How did those gun laws work?? We are STUPID to keep voting morons in office that make non-sensible “feel good” ordinances.

    You can erect concrete walls with barbed wire and have armed guards but the drugs will STILL get through because of DEMAND.
    Remove demand and the drugs disappear.
    Why is there DEMAND?
    Could it be due to lack of opportunities? Could it be a morality issue – no values??
    No, of course it’s landlords…stupid area we live in ran by stupid politicians who created the problem voted in by dolts over and over.

    • Don't Eat The Yellow Snow

      This is nothing but an attempt by politicians, and their friends, to “grab properties”. When they shut a rental down for six months and the landlord can’t pay the taxes or mortgage…then what happens? Yep…the “well known” families in the area will swoop in to buy up the properties at a dirt cheap price. THAT’S what this is about!

  • Sarah Lee

    This should also go for tenants who have an extended crime history ( felonies). Landlords should be doing extensive background checks on their tenants to make sure who they are renting to are safe. No one wants to live in a family neighborhood with children around while living next to a convicted felon.

    • Joe Schmoe

      There are laws, maybe you’ve heard of them. Fair housing? Felons are people too. If they’ve served their time, you have to rent to them.

    • 4Nick8er

      Sarah Lee—stick to making pies baby, cause you don’t have an understanding of this issue! If we did it your way, all felons would be homeless. You are really stupid! Landlords have no business checking into this type of info. They have no right, let alone a responsibility. You must be a politician, you look to be from the same ideology as those idiots that enacted these stupid regulations. Yes, lets hold the landlords responsible. This is a problem without a solution folks. This is why we are losing, no why we’ve lost , the war on drugs. ‘Nuff said!

  • Joe Schmoe

    Hey dunmore idiots in council! You’re violating due process! You cant supersede state landlord-tenant law!
    You are opening up to law suit! I hope the bottom falls out of this and it will. PROA will be contacted over this eventually and expect legislative push-back.

  • Bob

    Right, could you imagine if Philly and NY set up laws like this???? Half the city would be fleeing to YOUR town. Again, this is not ADRESSING a problem, just repositioning it.

  • smokes

    there only gonna make them more aggersive to sell more drugs this rule will not last forever you kick them out they find anthor place to live and do all over again again. its all about money and politcs

    • Fred Astiaire

      RIGHT…the landlord will go out of business (no rental income to pay for the taxes/mortgage/insurance), the property will be abandoned and boarded up like half of Wilkes-Barre, the borough will buy it with tax dollars (raising property taxes), tear it down eventually and via HUD funds, a developer who donates to the right people will put up section 8 housing for illegal immigrants working in this area for low wages.

  • Bob

    Actually, they don’t even have to go to another city. Once they are booted, the can just go down the block and set up shop again. Similar laws should be strikes against the tenant, not the housing provider. The tenant (actual perpetrator of the crime) is totally free to move into ANY other Dunmore residence. But the housing provider (landlord) is stuck with the mess. (And likely property damage and garbage, etc.)
    When the property owner can no longer pay his property taxes due to loss of income, and the thieves steal the copper while its border up, will the Borough still be convinced this is “improving” the neighborhood. Especially when all they did was “reposition” the bad apple tenant to another Dunmore residence?
    No is saying that landlords should not do their due diligence in screening tenants, but to receive what is effectively a “confiscation” of their property for any period of time is totally un-American. Even top-notch landlords will still get a bad-apple tenant now then. Sometimes the person who applied has a boyfriend they didn’t tell any body about, who was never screened. Are landlords suppose to set up cameras in their housing units?
    The unintended consequences of these ordinances will be made manifest as time goes on…..that’s is the litigation doesn’t break them first.

  • Is there REALLY FREEDOM of SPEECH ??? If so read this

    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE ! Create this Rule in Williamsport, Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, Hazleton ! Time to send the trash back to Philly, NJ, and NY

    All these Cities were nice 30 years ago, now they have gone to hell !

    • Fred Astiaire

      Careful, once the politicians pass ordinances to get rid of rentals and buy up their properties, they’ll build section 8 housing not subject to the ordinance (because section 8 is HUD’s). Then to raise revenue, not only will your taxes go up but you’ll receive citations in the mail for property code violations…and end up with MORE drug gangs until your property value drops to nothing.

  • Mary

    Law should be.. Get caught with drugs in the apartment, they go back to wherever they came from! Do not.. I repete do not! Send them to another city! Scranton has enough drugs, gangs, and pure scum!

  • Mary

    So send them elsewhere in the city! We don’t want them either! Law should be, they get caught with drugs, they go back to wherever they came from!

    • Fred Astiaire

      Send them elsewhere in the city?? LOL – that’s what the did! They could be moving into YOUR neighborhood.
      Hey, while we’re submitting elementary school level suggestions: how about we send them to mars on a rocket?

  • JDD

    So, let me see if I got this straight. A renter will be subjected to deep probing into their personal lives by their LANDLORD, because the landlord will suffer consequences for what the tenant does, BUT parents are still not responsible for their children when they mass murder people. Way to go America. This country is turning into a more oppressive, crooked, self serving government than the one we fought in the Revolutionary war. This government consistently finds ways of taking away rights of the poor, while protecting the rich. “Hey, can’t afford a home because of the unscrupulous bank practices and insane student loans and shitty economy? Guess what, you get to lose some of civil rights now too.”

  • Rob Mitch

    The Landlord just can’t throw someone out just because they want too. It takes time to do so. What business is it of the landlords of what goes on behind closed doors anyway. What if you get caught with drugs at your house….. Do they seize that house too. They make enough money off the landlords to begin with…Starting with the Sewer Maintenance fee in the Nanticoke area. I tried to apply to such an organization for work and they told me their was no Maintenance co. Go figure they have been steeling off the ppl all along and their is nothing we can do about it…Check that out for a story…We have no more choices…What they need is a Universal Person Behavioral ( Landlord Only List) to look up these ppl. It’s not right that WE take a chance on these ppl and then regret doing so but something like this has to happen..And don’t even get me started with the inspection fee… the section 8 inspection …I can go on.. WE HAVE NO RIGHTS ANYMORE but that’s what we get for helping out and trusting someone.

  • smokes

    its all about poltics in this county feeding us more crap all the time and big money to feel there pockets and more lies to make us feel safer what a joke in half. why would the landlords wanna do background checks when all this state wants is your money like they really care where you were born at speak english or not oh please.

  • smokes

    Niccolò you kick them out they will find a way around again and again if they dont live by they will find anthor way around and sell it some where they live this will not change anything at all it only make them more hungry to sell more drugs its just not gonna work out

    • Fred Astiaire

      Yes, and while were at solving problems with non-sensible solutions, we should make ordinances eliminating all automobile traffic because 45,000 people die in car crashes every year in this country! You apparently lack an ability to think things through and unfortunately cancel the vote of someone who does.

  • Bill D.

    The court in Philadelphia just shot down these fees as an unfair tax opening them up to lawsuits in upwards of over $800,000 just in illegal fees for rentals and inspections. This is just going to end up costing the borough in the end! Wake up people! your politicians are pretending to want to make it better and like they have for the last 20 years, they’ll only make it worse! Who will pay all this money back when they lose for Violating the civil rights of landlords for blaming them and punishing them for what a tenant does? YOU WILL! Where does this end? Next you’ll be on the hook for everything from a DUI to a rape because you rented to them! So foolish!
    Here is the story
    http:
    //articles.philly.com/2003-03-18/news/25473199_1_inspection-fees-inspection-program-license-fee

  • nepalta.com

    A Buildings is condemned because of its unsafe structure being so damaged that it is in danger of collapse. That would fall under the Property Maintenance Code (usually in Section 108)…if adopted. Condemning properties because of tenant behavior is a blatant abuse of the powers given to boroughs via Borough Code by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the adopted Property Maintenance Code that has NO such provision. Landlords should go to the Commonwealth Courts and sue over this and Dunmore’s Insurance Company should pay attention. How ironic that Dunmore appears to be breaking state laws, violating the Pennsylvania Constitution and ignoring rules of civil procedure while enforcing laws. It’s the fox guarding the hen house.

    As far as the drug dealers: they are here for a reason: they are invited by residents who have a demand for drugs (this IS a depressed area) and way too many people in single family homes buy the drugs. Is Dunmore prepared to pass ordinances that allow code enforcement to kick people out of their homes for possession? Think it can’t happen?

    Pittston City’s Chronic Nuisance Ordinance no. 4 (2008) can do exactly that and for far less. If your neighbor (who may be a renter!) doesn’t like you, he/she can anonymously complain to various departments (code enforcement, police, fire, manager, dog catcher, etc) after three visits in 60 days from any, the chief of police may send notice of possible “ejectment” if you fail to abate the issue and they if get another call. The ordinance states that If the city solicitor moves on it, you are removed from your home for 6 months. “The failure to prosecute an individual, or the fact that no one has been convicted of a crime is NOT a defense to a Chronic Nuisance Action” (Section 6b). Don’t even think “Constitution” because this is a civil matter.

    Yes, drugs are a problem and a danger…mostly caused by politicians and the Chamber Of Commerce who held the wages down, which is why young educated people flee Wyoming Valley. To complicate the matter, cities here advertise in the big cities about the low standard of living inviting people to live here and now they have the nerve to blame the behavior of whom THEY invited on landlords who struggle to keep housing affordable.

    • Bill D.

      The court in Philadelphia just shot down these fees as an unfair tax opening them up to lawsuits in upwards of over $800,000 just in illegal fees for rentals and inspections. This is just going to end up costing the borough in the end! Wake up people! your politicians are pretending to want to make it better and like they have for the last 20 years, they’ll only make it worse! Who will pay all this money back when they lose for Violating the civil rights of landlords for blaming them and punishing them for what a tenant does? YOU WILL! Where does this end? Next you’ll be on the hook for everything from a DUI to a rape because you rented to them! So foolish!

  • tim

    This will hurt the landlords, not the tenants. I am a recovering drug addict. I got evicted all the time during my active addiction. When I did, it didn’t take long before I manipulated the next landlord into thinking he was about to have an outstanding new tenant. We are professional liars. It is impossible for a landlord to rally know who he or she is renting to. I feel the city is on the right track in trying to find ways to keep dunmore a nice area, I just think they are targeting the wrong people.

  • Jolina

    I see a few flaws with this ordinance. First one being, suppose there are drugs in an apartment building with 4 units but only one of the units has drug activity. Does that mean that 3 other families’ will be without a home for 6 months because of someone else’s violation? And suppose those 3 families are with out a home, where are they supposed to go until they can get back in their place? Also, what about houses where the drug activity is done by someone else and the owner has no clue what is going on? Now the owner is going to be penalized because of someone else’s actions? I know the ordinance is meant to make landlords more responsible but you can live under the same roof as another person and not know they are drug dealers. Think it’s impossible, ask people who have had their life’s savings ripped off by people they thought they knew and trusted. I commend them for trying to but I think they should go back to the drawing board.

  • Niccolò

    This isn’t solving anything, even if it is a right step, they will just find another apartment once they get caught. People need to understand the fact, No matter how many laws the city or state invokes, Criminals don’t care about laws whats makes anyone think they will care about this law? Yes, Its another obstacle for them but hasn’t the past proved that they thrive on obstacles and will always find ways around them….

  • Christine Phillips

    It’s not right to punish the landlords. People lie. Drug dealers lie. A landlord can look into their background, but if they haven’t been busted before, how can the landlord know? One strike should hurt the drug dealers, not the landlord. For some landlords, their properties are their only source of income. It’s good something is being done, but don’t throw the baby out with the bath water, as my mom says!

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