SUNBURY — Sunbury City Council is looking to add mandatory background checks to its landlord-tenant ordinance.

Councilman John Barnhart said he, solicitor Joel Wiest, and the code office, have been working together to update the 2012 ordinance that is currently in place that bans all convicted drug dealers from renting in the city for seven years.

Barnhart said the city will also require everyone renting in Sunbury to provide a photo ID so that the code department, fire department and police department will know who is living where in case of an emergency.

“Residents in Sunbury have approached me and want to know who is living in here,” Barnhart said. “These changes will make the property owners, managers and brokers responsible for anyone living in the homes.”

Barnhart and Wiest are working on an updated version of the 2012 policy that was pushed through by then Mayor Dave Persing.

In the new ordinance, points will be assessed when charges are filed on the federal, state or local level for any of the felony charges that include aggravated assault, homicide, murder, voluntary or involuntary manslaughter, assault of law enforcement, drug delivery resulting in death, stalking, strangulation, hazing, kidnapping and trafficking, as well as several others.

The new system states points may be assessed against a property, owner or tenant if the nuisance behavior occurs on the surrounding sidewalk, street, or other property and is traceable to the property, owner or tenant.

Currently, the ordinance 134-9 “Illegal activities,” reads, “An individual convicted of any felony drug offense, upon conviction and expiration of any applicable appeal period, shall not be eligible to be a tenant of a residential rental unit. “Felony drug offense” shall mean an offense that is punishable by imprisonment for more than one year under any law of the United States or of a state or foreign country that prohibits or restricts conduct relating to narcotic drugs and other controlled substances, and specifically including any prohibited act under Pennsylvania’s Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act.”

The ordinance goes on to say, “a convicted illegal substance distributor shall not be eligible to be a tenant of a residential rental unit and shall be considered in violation of this chapter. Seven years after an individual’s conviction and the expiration of any applicable appeal period, that individual shall be eligible to be a tenant of a residential rental unit, provided that the individual has no additional conviction(s) of any felony drug offense during that seven-year period. Failure of the property owner to remove said convicted individual from the residential rental unit shall result in nonrenewal of the housing permit.”

Wiest informed the public at Monday’s council meeting that the board was still working on the ordinance and there was no votes being taken.

Barnhart said he will continue to work on the ordinance and the city will announce when another work session would be held.

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