McKees Rocks Borough pursues landlords with compliance issues
By Elizabeth Perry
McKees Rocks Borough officials are trying to crack down on landlords who are negligent in maintaining their buildings or aren’t paying property taxes.
At an Aug. 9 meeting, Council President Archie Brinza said a letter had been sent to landlords who were out of compliance with borough statutes as a first step in bringing them to the table.
Putting liens on properties, or confiscating land through the court system because its owner has been negligent, can be a costly prospect for boroughs and townships.
Brinza said he is “sitting down” with landlords in order to work out agreements with them to bring them back into compliance.
“We are really, really trying to change this narrative, and I don’t know if we’re doing it the right way, but we are trying,” Brinza said.
The borough has more than 800 landlords according to LeeAnn Wozniak, borough secretary, and those who don’t maintain their properties have brought consternation to tenants and neighbors alike.
McKees Rocks resident Maribeth Taylor had been complaining about the dumpster outside 114 Sarah Street for three years because the landlord of the building where it resided was not maintaining it properly.
“The dumpster stunk really bad,” Taylor said.
McKees Rocks council was prompted to ask the owner of the building to remove it from the sidewalk based on her concerns.
“Hopefully they will continue to do what’s right for the community,” Taylor said.
Council President Archie Brinza said he had been in discussions with the landlord to mitigate the trouble the dumpster had been causing residents.
Thornburg resident Mark G. Puzas Jr., owns the rental unit which had been the site of the vexing dumpster through a company called Alice Street Investments.
Puzas has had issues with unpaid taxes, according to court filings.
Brinza said he’d initially tried to come up with solutions from the owner that involved encasing the dumpster, before finally settling on full removal.
Brinza said he respects that Taylor is committed to their community.
“I think it looks ten times better, I am glad she brought the complaint to me,” Brinza said.
The building at 114 Sarah St., like others in the borough, didn’t have a valid occupancy permit.
In 2019, the board passed ordinance 1753 to increase standards for landlords, one of which is a requirement for a valid occupancy permit.
“I guarantee you he will be in compliance ASAP,” Brinza said.
The council is also looking into further legal tools and a formalization of processes to hold landlords accountable for their properties.
“We’re adopting standards that have been adopted nationwide,” Mayor David Flick said, adding that the board's efforts would be “people-driven,” so renters would not be unceremoniously removed from property because of the actions of their landlords.