By: Steven M. Williams
In October 2019, we wrote about the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision in Apartment Association of Metropolitan Pittsburgh v. Pittsburgh, in which the court vacated the Commonwealth Court’s earlier order declaring that the city could not require that landlords accept Section 8 vouchers. The Supreme Court also instructed the Commonwealth Court to reconsider its order in light of the Supreme Court’s earlier decision in the case of Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Ass’n v. City of Pittsburgh.
In 2015, Pittsburgh enacted Ordinance 2015-2062, which expanded the fair housing protected classes in the City to include “source of income.” The court observed that before the ordinance was enacted, a landlord’s participation in the Section 8 program was wholly voluntary, but that the ordinance effectively required that all landlords participate in the Section 8 program. As a result, the court found that the ordinance created and imposed upon landlords “duties, responsibilities and requirements,” in violation of the Home Rule Charter.
In March of this year, the Commonwealth Court reissued its order striking the city’s ordinance, which would require landlords to accept Section 8 vouchers from tenants, because it violated Pittsburgh’s Home Rule Charter. By its order, the Commonwealth Court has again made it clear that the city cannot require landlords in the city to participate in the federal Section 8 voucher program.
On May 11, 2020, the city filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to review the Commonwealth Court’s decision. The Supreme Court has not yet decided if it will agree to review the Commonwealth Court’s decision. If it does not, the Commonwealth Court’s order will be final, and the question of whether the City can require that landlords participate in the Section 8 voucher program will be settled.
We will continue to monitor this case and provide an update when the Supreme Court issues its decision.
For more information, or with questions regarding this case, please contact Steve Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org or 717.480.5302. Steve regularly represents landlords in all aspects of their businesses, including fair housing.