PHILADELPHIA, PA – Responding to a flurry of complaints from homeowners in neighborhoods across the city about rat infestation problems — frequently around property developments and demolitions — City Council today introduced legislation to strengthen city laws regarding the abatement of rats.
The legislation, introduced by Councilmember Cindy Bass (8th District), who chairs Council’s Public Health Committee, at the request of Council President Darrell L. Clarke (5th District), requires that prior to any demolition, full rehabilitation or new construction with excavation, the owner of the property must prepare a rodent control management plan for the detection, inspection and treatment of rats or rodents at the site. At a minimum, the plan must include provisions for abatement of the site by a licensed structural pest control company.
“Site owners need to be held accountable and that’s what this bill is meant to do. Our residents shouldn’t have to fear rodents from building sites intruding on their personal space, or the neighborhood,” said Councilmember Bass. “This has been a public safety and health concern, and I’m glad to see steps being taken in the right direction.”
“We’re hearing with increasing frequency from homeowners complaining that rats are materializing whenever there are property demolitions or excavations or new developments in their neighborhoods,” said Council President Clarke. “It isn’t right that homeowners get subjected to this public health problem through no fault of their own. It’s only fair that property developers have a rat abatement plan in place to deal with this nuisance problem before it gets any worse.”
As more city neighborhoods gentrify with property demolitions, excavations, rehabs and new constructions, more complaints are surfacing from Philadelphia residents about rat problems that they never recall seeing in their communities.
One Northeast Philadelphia neighborhood told reporters recently of rats overrunning their rowhouse block, not far from a large property development involving land excavation nearby. Similar stories have surfaced in the Germantown section of the city, along with other neighborhoods.
In addition to the rodent management plan required by the ordinance, the proposed law authorizes the city departments of Public Health and Licenses & Inspections to issue regulations to implement and enforce the law.
The ordinance would also require the owners of vacant lots to have yearly inspections and rat remediations done by licensed pest control companies. The ordinance does contain an exception for side yards or lots that are continually maintained as gardens.
The bill will be subject next to a public hearing in Council at a date to be determined.
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