SCRANTON -- Some property owners in Scranton got a letter in the mail last week from the city telling them to pay a renter's registration fee even if they aren't renting out their property.
The city of Scranton's rental registration department sent out letters last week prompting property owners to pay the annual fee, but they used other databases like information from the city's tax office to get addresses, so it wasn't 100 percent accurate and many who don't rent their properties got the letter.
One woman inherited her grandmother's home in Scranton. No one lives there now, but she and her family still use it as a meeting place for holidays.
"We receive things from Scranton from time to time like tax bills, but I was very surprised when this came indicating that we might be possibly renting the property, which is certainly not the case. So I wasn't sure how they had gotten that idea."
This past Easter weekend, she was not expecting a letter prompting her to pay a fee that didn't apply to her.
"Confused, not sure who I would need to talk to, and I had a lot of difficulty getting through on the phone, so we just happened to be in town so we're just checking into it in person."
City officials say 11,800 of these letters went out. They said you automatically got one if you own a property where you're not currently residing.
That was the case for one Scranton couple who owns a property on West Locust Street.
"When I got this letter, I couldn't understand it," said Ron Zimorowicz. "It's for my mom's house. She's 85 years old. The place hasn't been rented since my grandmother passed away in the 1990s."
There are several exemptions to the renter's registration requirements, including if the person who lives there is a parent or child of the owner, so Zimorowicz was able to get his problem resolved quickly.
"Here, everybody is confused. I hear other people walking in, same story. 'What do I do? I don't have this.'"
Scranton Mayor William Courtright says the process wasn't 100 percent accurate, but it's a way to get a better idea of who has rental properties and are required to pay the registration fee.
"What we're trying to do is make it better and better each year. So we're going to be looking into going out to a company that would actually do a survey for us and get it a little more accurate than what it is right now," said the mayor.
Mayor Courtright says if it was a mistake that you received a letter, you can contact the rental registration department at city hall or just mail in proof that you pay the bills for the property.