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Dumb Landlords Who Don’t Pay Attention To Their Property File Class Action Lawsuit


Tenants who skip out on their PGW gas bills eventually cause the debt to be slapped on to the property itself in the form of a gas lien.   It’s the Philadelphia Gas Works’ favorite tool to recover what is basically stolen gas.  It’s also the most effective way to get collections done.

Landlords are not happy.   They’ve filed a class action suit seeking relief from the practice [Inky].

Many landlords in Philly allow these liens to pile up only to discover on the day they decide to sell their investment property a majority of buyers will walk because they cannot obtain title insurance with PGW holding claims against the property.

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1.  The property is vacant.

2. Someone is claiming a full $30,000 Homestead Exemption on this property and making sure the property taxes are paid up so nobody will be tempted to try to take the property to Sheriff’s Sale.

3. A zillion L&I visits to this property and NOTHING.

5237 Baltimore [West Philly Local]

5237 Baltimore [West Philly Local]

Source:  West Philly Local

I’m sure Councilwoman Blackwell’s response will be:  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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How Do You Feel about DA House Seizures?

Jeremy Roebuck for the Inky reports of the class action lawsuit filed against DA Seth Williams and the City of Philadelphia against asset forfeitures.

We’ve covered the Asset Seizure program before.   If you have a drug house near you, the easiest way for it to get on the radar of the DA’s office is to call (215) 686-5858 to report drug houses.

Before / After

Before / After

And this is what the Asset Forfeiture program is capable of doing. We’ve covered the flophouse on the 1500 block of E Berks Street (above) and how it was gutted and renovated into a $300K rehab. This was the result of an asset seizure by the District Attorney’s office.

Had the program not stepped in, this last remaining piece of blight on this Fishtown block would have been stuck there permanently. Now, it’s a tax-generating restored gem.

That’s how the asset forfeiture program is supposed to work at the District Attorney’s office. And in fact, the most powerful way to change crime patterns in Philadelphia has always been to attack the properties involved in crimes and blight, not the people.

But the defendants in this Federal lawsuit allege that the DA’s office uses the program for just more than that–they use it for their very sustenance.  Given that the defendants are seeking class-action status and are only seeking $1 of monetary compensation, it seems unlikely that the City Solicitor can make this suit go away with an offer of cash.   The petitioners are hoping for a ruling that will obliterate the program completely.

To that I say their chances are slim.  However, if the defendants are able to prove a very long series of abuses at the DA’s office, the 3rd Circuit could come down with some very bright line tests on when they can and cannot file seizure petitions in the courts to take property.   Depending on how those rules are arranged, that could seriously neuter this program and would keep flophouses and drughouses permanently entrenched in neighborhoods.


Asset Forfeiture Case Complaint

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William Penn Development Coalition Successfully Blocks Sale of William Penn High School

It seems like the folks behind William Penn Development Coalition have figured out how to disrupt the School Reform Commission, and City Council President Darrel Clarke, by filing a lis pendens against the deed for the school complex.  A lis pendens blocks any future transfer of a property’s deed until a pending court matter is settled or concluded.

This puts a serious kink in Temple University’s interests in the site.  The university has been rather silent since it expressed $15,000,000 worth of interest in acquiring the property.

According to the PA Supreme Court docket (here), the community group petitioned the Pennsylvania Supreme Court seeking an emergency injunction to torpedo the sale of the shuttered school.  At least for now while the court case is open, the community group is winning.

William Penn Lis Pendens

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Photo Of The Week


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