Tenants in Jermyn Apartments Fighting to Stay

JERMYN, Pa. -- More than a dozen tenants of an apartment building in Lackawanna County may have to move at the end of the week, but they're using the time they have to try to come up with a compromise with Jermyn borough officials.

The borough of Jermyn has been cracking down on code enforcement violations. Last month, some tenants were evicted because of problems with their building's roof. Now, tenants in the building are being asked to leave by Friday. But in this case, it's not a safety issue, so the tenants and the landlord are fighting to stay.

Pearl Yanick was aware of Jermyn's code enforcement crackdown, but she never expected it to affect her until she received a letter Friday telling her she and her family had one week to get out of their apartment on Washington Street.

"What is Jermyn's goal? They said blighted properties. I invite anybody to drive through Jermyn. You will find worse properties than this one. I can guarantee you that," Yanick said.

According to the letter, the tenants need to leave because the building does not have a rental permit through the borough.

"Last time I checked, I thought Pennsylvania state law was 15 to 30 days and an eviction notice had to be signed by a magistrate, but the letter that we were served was only signed by code enforcement, which is also our city solicitor," Yanick said.

The building has last year's rental permit in the window.

Shirley McKeel, the building's owner, says she was denied a permit this year because she owes property taxes and garbage fees. She doesn't think that's reason enough to kick out her tenants.

"All of my tenants, God, I have tenants upstairs that's been here for almost 20 years," said McKeel.

McKeel's been making payments on her back taxes and having the garbage removed herself. She's hoping the borough will see her efforts and be willing to compromise.

"I'm doing everything I can. If I have to move out, I'm losing the income of the house which means paying the taxes is going to be harder."

We reached out to the borough code enforcement officer on Monday but we have not heard back. Meanwhile, the tenants are waiting to see if they'll really need to move.

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