KULPMONT — Borough officials are encouraging residents to report “rat activity” in or near their properties to help combat the rodent problem on the south side of Kulpmont.

Homeowners have been attending council meetings since July to complain about the issue, which code enforcement officer Russ Moroz confirmed is occurring most frequently in the area of Scott and Poplar streets.

The Kulpmont-Marion Heights Joint Municipal Sewer Authority purchased $125 of rat bait, a purchased approved by borough council at Tuesday’s meeting, and began baiting the sewers on Wednesday, but then halted because of rainy weather.

Moroz and borough council have investigated every rat complaint, according to council President Walter Lutz, saying Friday that reported addresses were visited within a day. Citations were issues to those not in compliance with borough ordinances requiring property maintenance and garbage removal.

Some progress

One woman told council in July that her daughter’s dog was bitten by a large rat that came out of a property located near her daughter’s residence at 925 Scott St.

Moroz attributes the problem to accumulated garbage at properties and has been issuing citations to homeowners in an effort to alleviate the problem. In some cases regarding landlords and homeowners, the citations have been effective, he said.

A property in the 1200 block of Scott Street was posted “unfit for human habitation” in August after a landlord failed to address ordinance violations issued as a result of neighbors reporting rats on the front porch, Lutz said. The tenant was arrested after being found still living in the home despite the posting. The landlord has since cleaned up the property, he said.

Officials follow up with property owners after initial warnings are issued, and any unpaid code tickets are sent to Magisterial Judge William C. Cole’s office in Mount Carmel.

Tougher ordinances sought

Lutz said he’s looking at ordinances that would give the borough more power to address dilapidated rental units, including one that would allow entry into rentals once every two years. A current ordinance requires a property inspection prior to new tenants moving in or when the property acquires new ownership, and officials are working to ensure it is followed.

In 2018 alone, $1,400 was collected through the magistrate office from landlords who failed to have proper inspections.

Lutz said the issue doesn’t fall only on landlords, and the borough has actively been addressing problems with those who fail to maintain their properties.

Letters sent

On Wednesday, five letters were sent to property owners requesting a meeting with code enforcement to address issues. Numerous citations are being prepared to be sent to the magistrate’s office and public nuisance charges are being drawn up, Lutz said.

Asked how council can address personal money being spent by homeowners to fight the rat issue, Lutz said council currently has nothing in place but could discuss the topic. He intends on speaking with Moroz on ways the borough can assist residents in disposing of dead rats that they catch or find on their properties.

Residents are reminded to not place garbage outside their homes on any day other than garbage collection day, and to keep their properties clean.

Call borough hall

Those experiencing rat problems in their homes or at neighboring properties are to report it to borough hall at 570-373-1537. Calls may be made anonymously, but addresses must be provided to code enforcement.

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