Landlords Asked to Fund City’s New Renter ID Law

A proposed rental registration ordinance in Williamsport, Pennsylvania would require tenants to register their whereabouts with city officials, and make landlords responsible for providing the city with detailed information on each occupant.

The ACLU already has taken issue with the measure, telling  local news that the law would hurt the poor and elderly who may not have a driver’s license and would have to purchase a government-issued ID before obtaining housing.

In it’s initial form, the information the tenant and landlord submit could be made public.

The measure is similar to the state’s controversial voter ID law.  A court decision on the legality of that measure is expected soon.

The ACLU also told reporters that the forced disclosure of a tenant’s whereabouts would endanger victims of domestic violence and stalking.

The city’s mayor announced the proposal at a press conference, according to the report. The mayor stood alongside police officials while explaining the expected impact of the new law.

Perhaps the biggest impediment for landlords is the requirement that tenants present two forms of approved identification before they can rent a property.

When asked about the constitutionality of the renter ID law, the mayor told reporters he is confident it will withstand a legal challenge, because a similar law already has been passed in neighboring Berwick.

The mayor says the law is intended to target absentee landlords and make them accountable for drug dealing and other crimes committed by tenants in rental properties. He told reporters that he doubts drug dealers will have two forms of identification, and therefore will not be able to rent housing in the city.

A fee for registering each occupant is expected to be included in the final measure, according to the report.  Lawmakers say the final language probably will include a residency requirement so that some landlords will be forced to hire a local agent or property manager.

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