State College

State College Borough Council revises student home licensing fees

Borough Council on Monday approved revising the schedule of fees and charges ordinance establishing a student home license requirement in the borough.

According to the revision, acquiring the license does come with some new fees, including a $1,000 fee for a new license, $10 for annual renewal and $25 for change of ownership.

According to planning Director Ed LeClear, there are about 1,300 units in the borough that could potentially qualify as student homes — multifamily dwellings or dwellings with an attached apartment.

Right now, LeClear said, the planning department is seeking to ensure that property owners who could have a student home are aware of the process for obtaining a license.

“Our office also routinely gets calls from the real estate community as far as housing statuses,” he said. “We want to make sure it’s clear with property owners and staff to provide accurate information.”

The intent is to have an informational mailing sent to all potential student home property owners, he said. This is part of a fact-finding mission to discover the previous use of these properties, if they are currently being used as a student home or if there are plans to convert to student homes in the future.

These mailings are slated to go out in May, he said, with applications starting by the beginning of summer.

Councilman Tom Daubert questioned if a house currently inhabited by three unrelated students would have to pay the $1,000 fee for a license.

According to LeClear, the only requirement to pay that amount is for property owners submitting requests for properties not previously considered student homes. Based on the ordinance, there is discretion between new applications and existing student homes.

“When it was drafted,” he said, “we took into consideration that existing homes didn’t have to pay the fee.”

Existing homes would still have to pay the $10 annual renewal fee, he said.

Councilwoman Theresa Lafer said she was happy to hear this revision was taking place as the issue of student homes has been long discussed among neighborhood leadership.

“If you’re building a home you have all sorts of regulations and codes dealing with it,” she said. “I do like the idea that we will take the time and manpower to make sure those houses are legal regarding where and how they are situated in the community.”

According to LeClear, there are about 330 student homes in the borough.