Pennsylvania state laws offer municipalities a series of different powers to prevent and eliminate blight. State law gives local government the authority to enforce property condition standards under their police powers. While strong private property rights are a hallmark of American law, Federal and Pennsylvania law have repeatedly given local government the highest level of control over the use of land within its borders and the ability to use this power to enforce acceptable property condition. Courts have consistently held that vacant and poorly maintained buildings have a profound adverse effect, both emotional and financial, on the wellbeing of the communities in which they are located, and that regulating their appearance falls squarely within the city's power to act in furtherance of the general welfare. As a result, the courts have recognized municipalities' broad authority to enforce restrictions on property uses and condition and to compel owners to correct blighting conditions.
Pennsylvania Blight-Related Laws (in reverse chronological order):
2018 Act 33 Amending Land Bank Law – Allows a county to designate a redevelopment authority as the land bank for its jurisdiction.
Adverse Possession Amendment, Act 34 added section 5527.1. (2018) – Allows for title to real property of a small contiguous lot after 10 years of continuous, exclusive, hostile possession.
Land Bank Legislation, Act 153 of 2012 – Authorizes counties and municipalities with populations of 10,000 or more to establish land banks.
PA Act 90 (2010) the Neighborhood Blight Reclamation and Revitalization Act 53 Pa.C.S. §6101 et seq. Amended in part in 2014 and 2015 by Act 171 of 2014 ("Act 171") and Act 34 of 2015 ("Act 34")
Abandoned and Blighted Property Conservatorship Act, Act of Nov. 26, 2008, P.L. 1672, No. 135. Cl. 68. Amended in 2014 by Act 157. Allows for court-appointed conservators to bring buildings into code compliance when owners fail to comply.
2006 Redevelopment Authority Estate Administration Law 20 Pa. C.S.A. § 3155, 3311; Act 171 of 2006. – Allows Redevelopment Authority to open up the estate of a deceased person where a vacant property's owner has died without a will and the estate remains unopened.
Municipal Code and Compliance Act 68 P.S. §1081 et seq.; Act 99 of 2000. Amended by Act 133 in 2016. – Requires purchases of properties with known code violations to resolve those code violations Code within 18 months.
Real Estate Tax Sale Law (RETSL) 72 P.S. § 5860.619; Act 5 of 1998. – 1998 amendment to RETSL prohibits tax claim bureaus from selling properties at tax sale to bidders who are delinquent on their taxes or have a revoked rental license.
Municipal Housing Code Avoidance Act and, for third-class cities 18 P.S. § 7510; Act 70 of 1998. Authorizes criminal misdemeanor sanctions for multiple code violations.
Third Class Cities Escalated Code Citations and Penalties Act 135 of 1998; 53 P.S. § 39131.1: Authorizes the adoption of property maintenance ordinances and provides for fines and penalties.