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L&I is planning to crack down on vacant apartments above commercial spaces

The new year will bring many new things to the lives of Philadelphians, including an L&I crackdown “on a different kind of slumlord,” said KYW.

Even though the crackdown is not scheduled until 2014, L&I is warning retail property owners in advance that apartments above stores cannot remain boarded up. Instead, they are required to install new windows and doors.

L&I spokeswoman Rebecca Swanson told KYW they’ve been hearing that there are are hundreds, if not thousands, of vacant apartments at many locations throughout the city including Center City, South Philadelphia, Northeast and Northwest Philadelphia.

Any vacant apartments lurking up there?

Any vacant apartments lurking up there? pic from threadsandsnippets

According to Swanson, the owners of the buildings who do not comply will be cited and will face a fine of $300 a day for every day they’re open (that’s the “doors and windows” program.) If the owners fail to correct the problems, they will be sent to court. Swanson urged people to start calling 3-1-1 to report properties now so they’ll be teed up for when the agency cracks the whip.

PhillyMag writer Liz Spikol made a point about L&I’s reliance on community groups to tip them off about the slumlords.  Spikol points out that “it is decidedly not endearing to learn that the smart people at L&I never noticed this before now.”

While it is good  to rely on community groups to tip them off about retail slumlords, Spikol wonders whether inspectors who canvas the streets notice these things or if they “just hear about them.”

Anyone know of any such vacant upstairs apartments?

- Ruthann Alexander, @RuthannAlexande


5 Responses to L&I is planning to crack down on vacant apartments above commercial spaces

  1. Jon November 11, 2013 at 12:12 pm #

    A clarification: the fine is $300 a day for each non-functioning door or window. So if, for example, a property owner has 10 boarded up windows on the 2nd floor, the fine would be $3,000 per day.

  2. karen November 11, 2013 at 5:13 pm #

    Hm, then how come the Gamble & Huff building on Ave of the Arts STILL has boarded up windows – from a fire in 2010?

    • Lee November 11, 2013 at 5:35 pm #


      while I share your frustration with the G&H, I think those upstairs windows are tehcnically commercial spaces…..

      Still, they are trifflin’.

  3. Toynbee November 12, 2013 at 11:11 am #

    At $300 per boarded window/door per day, how much does the owner of Columbo’s owe?

    • Albert Stumm November 12, 2013 at 2:17 pm #

      I know. Isn’t that frustrating? L&I had to start the legal process over when a new owner bought the place this spring. Supposedly, there’s been some action there, but I’m trying to nail it down.

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