State Rep. Michael Stinziano announced that he will introduce legislation to hold criminal landlords accountable for negligent homicide.
Rep. Stinziano’s proposed legislation would allow a property owner, property manager or landlord to be charged with negligent homicide if that person rents a property they know is deemed uninhabitable by the municipal authority and a death occurs due to the victim’s actions to alleviate the uninhabitable condition.
“Recent tragic events have highlighted that there are bad actors who rent property that is unsafe and uninhabitable,” said Rep. Stinziano, who represents residents of Franklinton and the Hilltop. “They do so knowing they are in violation of the law with complete disregard for the safety and wellbeing of others. My legislation will hold these bad actors accountable by giving our prosecutors another tool through which to seek justice. The overwhelming majority of landlords go above and beyond their legal obligations and this legislation will not impede or dissuade anyone who is following the law.”
Currently, ignoring an order to vacate a property is a misdemeanor crime punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine, if convicted. The charge of negligent homicide is a first degree misdemeanor which, if convicted, is punishable by 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
A Christmas Eve fire killed three people in a Franklinton home on Wisconsin Avenue. Authorities say a space heater ignited a mattress in the home. Gas service had been shut off because of a leak inside the house, according to news accounts. News reports say the city had issued orders to vacate the house more than two years ago after inspectors found no gas service to heat the house, open electric boxes, leaking plumbing and a defective water heater and electrical outlet.