CONSHOHOCKEN Under a new residential rental policy that takes effect Jan. 1, 2014, landlords will have to live within 12 miles of the borough or designate a person to make decisions for them in case of an emergency.

The borough council in June unanimously passed the ordinance, rewriting what officials said had been a patchwork rental code.

Under the new ordinance, each rental property requires an annual permit, and code inspections will be conducted every other year.

Borough Manager Fran Marabella said there are more than 2,000 rental units in Conshohocken. Many of those are in large buildings with on-site managers.

But some of the borough's single-family homes, duplexes, and other properties were owned by individual landlords who lived far from the borough, and "it's difficult to get hold of them in case of emergency," Marabella said.

Starting in 2014, a "designated agent" will have to live near the property to give permission, for example, to board it up after a fire, Marabella said. He said the owner could give that authority to the tenant.

The ordinance also codifies situations under which the borough manager can revoke a rental license. Most involve illicit activities such as drug use, illegal gun possession, or excessive noise complaints.

Marabella said he had similar authority under the old ordinance, but in the last eight years he has only gotten close to exercising it once.

"It's never been done before, but we do have the rights for that," he said. - Jessica Parks