Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County in case of Patricia Reaves v. City of Harrisburg Housing Code Board of Appeals and Fannie Frye, No. 604 S. 1978.
Stuart J. Magdule, for appellant, City of Harrisburg.
Clarence C. Morrison, for appellant, Fannie Frye.
Kenneth A. Wise, with him Alan N. Linder, for appellee.
Judges Wilkinson, Jr., Blatt and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Wilkinson, Jr.
[ 48 Pa. Commw. Page 126]
This case arises under the provisions of the Act of January 24, 1966 (Act), P.L. (1965) 1534, as amended, 35 P.S. § 1700-1. The appellant (landlady) appeals an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County directing the City of Harrisburg (City) to pay over to appellee (tenant) rental monies the tenant paid into escrow. We affirm.
From April 1976 to December 1977, tenant resided in a dwelling known as 125 Royal Terrace. The premises were rented pursuant to an oral lease for a monthly rental of $100. In April 1977 the City through its Bureau of Codes Enforcement (Bureau) inspected the property. On April 20, 1977 the Bureau certified the dwelling to be unfit for human habitation and found tenant eligible to be placed on the City's Rent Withholding Program. The inspection determined that there were 122 housing code violation points, more than 100 points over the required 20 points necessary to qualify for rent withholding. From May through October 1977, tenant placed $600 in rental monies into the City's rent withholding escrow account.
In September 1977, electrical repairs, for which the landlady arranged, were made to the property at a cost of $845. These repairs corrected approximately 45 violation points. In October 1977, at the end of the first six months rent withholding period, the Bureau reinspected the dwelling and again found it unfit for
[ 48 Pa. Commw. Page 127]
human habitation, having 62 housing code violation points, and on October 20, 1977 tenant was recertified for another six months rent withholding period. However, on October 27, 1977 the City's Code Administrator informed tenant that the escrowed funds were to be used to pay for the electrical repairs.*fn1 Tenant appealed this decision to the City Housing Code Board of Appeals (Board), and on December 2, 1977 a hearing was held. On January 16, 1978 the Board affirmed the decision to pay out the escrowed rent. Tenant took an appeal to the court of Common pleas. The court reversed the Board's order and directed the City to pay the escrowed rental monies to tenant.
The landlady argues that she is entitled to the escrowed monies under authority of a clause set forth in the third sentence of the Act, which reads:
If, at the end of six months after the certification of a dwelling as unfit for human habitation, such dwelling has not been certified as fit for human habitation, any moneys deposited in escrow on account of continued occupancy shall be payable to the depositor, except that any funds deposited in escrow may ...