City of Philadelphia






Office of the City Solicitor

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS - ANSWERS

 

1.   No.  The Law Department does not represent private citizens.  The Law Department only represents the City, and all officers, departments, boards, and commissions within the City, concerning any matter arising in connection with the exercise of their official powers.  If you need an attorney, contact the Bar Association lawyer referral service http://www.philadelphiabarlawyers.com/  or call 215-238-6300, which can also help identify legal resources for persons of limited financial means.  

 

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2.   Claimants can download a copy of the Claims Form from  http://www.phila.gov/finance/pdfs/Claim_form2.pdf 

 

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3.   You must contact Risk Management Unit http://www.phila.gov/finance/Office_of_Risk_Manag.html or at 215-683-1713 or 215-683-1717.

 

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4.   First try contacting whoever is telling you that you owe the City, whether the Revenue Department, the Water Revenue Bureau, the Department of Licenses and Inspections, the Office of Administrative Review, the Law Department, or a collections firm working on the City's behalf.  If you cannot get through, please contact the Law Department Tax Unit at:

215-683-5200. See also https://ework.phila.gov/revenue/default.asp

 

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5.   Please call PGW's Lien and Bankruptcy Unit https://www.pgworks.com/index.aspx?NID=60 or the Credit and Collection Department at 215-978-1053. 

 

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6.  Sometimes the City must perform emergency services for which the property owner bears responsibility.  For example, if your water service line is leaking and causing a hazard and your curb stop (valve) is inoperable, PWD http://www.phila.gov/water/ may have to excavate the street to shut off your water. Leaks from house sewer lines can also cause serious problems and may need emergency repairs.  You will be billed for this service. Customers who have questions regarding "the work performed" should contact the Water Department's Customer Service division (215-685-9601).  Customers who have questions regarding "payment" should contact the Water Revenue Bureau at 215-686-6706.

 

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7.  You should contact the Tax Unit at 215-683-5300 for assistance. See also https://ework.phila.gov/revenue/default.asp

 

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8.  For information or to resolve a lien on your property, contact the Law Department, Housing and Code Enforcement Division - http://www.phila.gov/law/Housing_%26_Code_Enfor.html, or call 215-683-5113 or 215-683-5252, or fax information and request to 215-683-5097.

 

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9.  The City takes properties to Sheriff's sale to collect delinquencies on real estate taxes and other City claims such as water bills.  Contact whoever has been trying to collect from you, generally the Law Department or an outside collections firm.  If you are of low to moderate income, hardship payment plans may be available for resident homeowners, and legal aid organizations may be able to help establish your title to the property (if this is unclear) or represent you if there are defenses to sale.  The Sheriff also sells properties at mortgage foreclosure sales to enforce mortgage notes.  If you have received notice that your home will be subject to sheriff sale and would like to pay the outstanding taxes, water debt or enter into a payment agreement please follow the instructions on the notice.  Homeowners experiencing difficulty making mortgage payments, problems with other lender issues, or if your home is scheduled for sheriff?s sale, please visit the Save your Home website at http://saveyourhomephilly.org/  or call the hotline at 215-334-HOME (4663).  

 

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10.  For landlord/tenant issues go to the following website for information http://www.courts.phila.gov/howdoi/index.asp?search=26 or contact Landlord/Tenant Court at 215-686-2910.

 

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11.  You may obtain legal counsel if you believe it is necessary.  Referral information is provided on your complaint.  If you wish to contact the Health Department regarding this concern go to the following website: http://www.phila.gov/health/ChildhoodLead/HazardControl.html  or contact the main information number at 215-685-2797.  Before calling please have the address of the property.  If you would like to have your home re-inspected, please contact the Health Department at 215-685-2352.  If you have a question regarding a grant, please contact the website above or call the Health Department at 215-685-2790.

 

          11a.   Can the City Solicitor's Office represent me in Lead Paint Court?   No, the City Solicitor's Office does not represent individual citizens in court proceedings. 

 

         11b.   I am the owner of the property, do I have to come to court?  Yes, if you fail to do so, fines may be levied on you and your property.  If you cannot attend court on that day, please contact us at 215-683-5220 as well as Courtroom 446 at 215-686-3755 or 215-686-8798.  It is preferred that you contact these numbers as soon as possible.  However, if you have received a letter from the City of Philadelphia Health Department since the date of the complaint, indicating that your property is in compliance and has been appropriately abated, you do not have to attend the court proceedings.

 

         11c.   If I am unable to attend court due to illness or infirmity, what should I do?   Please contact the Office of the City Solicitor at 215-683-5220 as well as Courtroom 446 at

215-686-3755 or 215-686-8798.   

 

         11d. Should I attend court if I am the tenant, not the owner of the property?  As a tenant you are not obligated to attend; however, you may choose to do so.

 

         11e. If the property owner is treating the tenant inappropriately during this lead abatement process, what option is provided to the tenant following the filing of the complaint?  One of the options the tenant has is to attend the court hearing and inform the court of the situation.

 

         11f. I have recently sold the property.  Should I attend court?  Yes, you should appear in court and provide the documents that will indicate the sale of the property as well as the identity and address of the new owner. You may contact the Office of the City Solicitor at 215-683-5220 with this information.

 

         11g. What do I do if I am unable to comply with the City of Philadelphia's request to abate the lead from the property due to tenant non-compliance?  Please attend the court hearing and provide information regarding your efforts to obtain the tenant's compliance with the abatement process.  For further information, please contact the Law Department at 215-683-5220. 

 

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12.  No, the Office of the City Solicitor does not represent individual citizens in tuberculosis court hearings if a petition is filed seeking to compel treatment of those suffering from tuberculosis. The Office of the City Solicitor will often intervene to request that the court orders treatment.

 

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13.  No.  The Law Department represents City departments and employees in their official duties, it cannot represent private parties.  However, complaints about conditions at private properties can be reported to the City through the City's 311 operators http://www.phila.gov/311

 

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14.  The City's Health Department, though its Air Management Services -  http://www.phila.gov/health/AirManagement is the air pollution enforcement agency in Philadelphia.  Air Management Service will investigate complaints from private citizens.  Complaints about air pollution can be reported to the City through the City's 311 operators. 

 

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15.  Upon receipt of an appropriate authorization or court order, the Law Department will ask the Health Centers to provide you with a copy of the specified medical records.  If you need an authorization form, please contact 215-683-5220 or go to http://www.phila.gov/law/Health_and_Adult_Ser.html.  You may need to pay the City's cost for producing the medical records.

 

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16.  The following is general information regarding Mental Health Court. If you are seeking patient specific information you should speak with the specific facility where the patient is receiving treatment.  

 

         16a. What are the locations and telephone numbers of the Mental Health Court sites?

 

 

 Albert Einstein Medical

Center (AEMC)

 

(215) 456-7095

 (Main # 215-456-7890)

 

 

5583 Park Avenue

Philadelphia, PA 19141

 

Girard Medical Center

 

(215) 787-6998

(Main # 215-787-2000)

 

 

801 W. Girard Avenue

Philadelphia, PA 19123

 

Friends Hospital

 

(215) 831-4703

(Main # 215-831-4600)

 

 

4641 Roosevelt Boulevard

Scattergood Building, 1st Floor

Philadelphia, PA 19124

 

         16b.  Can the City Solicitor's Office represent me in Mental Health Court?  No, the Office of the City Solicitor does not represent individual citizens in mental health court hearings; however, the Office of the City Solicitor will typically seek treatment for mentally ill persons upon the filing of the appropriate petition.

 

         16c.  What will happen if the petitioner fails to appear in court?  Although the petition may be read into the record, without sufficient corroboration of the facts in the 302 petition, the patient may be discharged from the hospital without further treatment.   

 

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17.  No, the Office of the City Solicitor does not represent individual citizens in mental retardation court proceedings; however, the Office of the City Solicitor will typically seek treatment for the identified persons upon the filing of the appropriate petition.

 

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18.  You can reach DHS at the following website - http://www.phila.gov/DHS/  or you can call 215-683-4DHS (4347).

 

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19.  Go to website for Adult Probation and Parole Department  http://www.courts.phila.gov/common-pleas/trial/criminal/appd.asp or call 215-683-1000.

 

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20.  If you would like to review your DHS file, please write a letter to Barbara Ash, Chief Deputy City Solicitor, Child Welfare Unit, One Parkway Building, 1515 Arch Street, 16th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19102-1595 or fax your letter to 215-683-5162.

 

 

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21.  If you believe a child is being abused and want to file a report, please call the DHS Hotline at 215-683- 4347 or call the State Childline directly at 1-800-932-0313. 

  

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22.  Phone numbers for almost all City employees, including DHS Social Work Services Staff are available at http://www.phila.gov/phonedir/ .  You may also call 311 or 215-683-4347.

 

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23.  If you need to apply for a birth certificate, please contact the Pennsylvania Department of Health (1-877-724-3258).  You can obtain your birth certificate in 3 ways:

 

         1)  by mail - Division of Vital Records, P.O. Box 1528 New Castle, PA 16103;

 

         2)  online - http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/birth_certificates

                 

         3)  in person - The Philadelphia public office is located at the Division of Vital Records, 110 North 8th Street, Suite 108, Philadelphia, PA 19107.

 

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24.  If you need to apply for a social security card, please go to the Social Security Office's website  http://www.ssa.gov/ssnumber/ for more information or visit your local Social Security Office.

 

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25.  An agreement with the City is required for any filming in or on, or use of, City streets or City-owned or occupied property. The Law Department is responsible for the drafting and negotiation of such agreements.  The agreement, which may permit the use of City streets or property and/or grant the right to construct at a specific site, must be executed prior to shooting. The agreement will require insurance. The types and limits of insurance coverage will be determined on a project by project basis by the City's Division of Risk Management. The agreement will also require that the production company indemnify, defend and hold the City harmless from any claims or liabilities which may arise during shooting.

When filming will take place (i) on City owned property; (ii) at a variety of locations over an extended period of time, or (iii) use City or quasi-City services the production company must submit a proposed filming schedule to the Greater Philadelphia Film Office ("Film Office") http://film.org/film/index.cfm for approval at least 48 hours in advance of commencing any filming. The production company must also submit to the Film Office for approval any change in the filming schedule at least 24 hours in advance of such filming.  Anyone interested in filming should work directly with the Film Office http://film.org/film/index.cfm  or call (215) 686-2668.  Additionally, below is a partial list of required applications that can be downloaded where applicable to the proposed project.  Fairmount Park: media application- http://film.org/film/shoot_in_philly/forms_and_permits.cfm

Independence National Historical Park: The Filming & Photography Permit application form City of Philadelphia, Department of Revenue: http://film.org/film/shoot_in_philly/forms_and_permits.cfm   Call the Film Office for further instructions. 

City of Philadelphia, Streets Department: http://film.org/film/shoot_in_philly/forms_and_permits.cfm

(For Picture, Equipment Placement, etc.).

 

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26.  Requests for data maintained by a City Department should be addressed to the Department. The Department will evaluate the request to determine whether the intended use is appropriate and permissible, and determine the approvals necessary to release the data.  In most cases, City-owned data that is not a matter of public record is released only pursuant to a data license agreement, prepared by the Law Department that governs permissible uses, establishes confidentiality requirements, and provides other terms and conditions.  The foregoing may not apply to City data that is a matter of public record.  If you believe the data you seek is a public record, you can submit a Right To Know Act request form at the following website: https://www.dced.state.pa.us/public/oor/Form%20-%20Uniform%20Request.pdf

 

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27.  If a company or property owner needs to install cables, pipes or other facilities for the transmission of electricity, water, gas or telecommunications in the public right-of-way (for example, by excavating under street or sidewalks, or by attaching aerial wires to utility poles, or placing antennas on City street light poles), it is necessary to obtain a Right-of-Way Use License and Agreement.  The application for a Right-of-Way Use agreement and license should be made on a form provided by the Streets Department - http://www.phila.gov/streets, Right-of-Way Unit, Municipal Services Building, Room 930.  The application fee depends on the scale of the proposed facilities; if the owner of the proposed facilities will have a total of more than 2000 linear feet of facilities in the public right of way, the application fee is $3500; if 2000 linear feet or less, the application fee is $700.   Owners of underground facilities in the public right-of-way must also pay an Annual Fee for facilities in the public rights-of-way, to compensate the City for costs of right-of-way management.  A Street Degradation Fee is also charged for excavation that cuts into the streets and sidewalks to compensate the City for increased repaving and reconstruction costs.  For placement of facilities on City-owned street light poles in the public rights-of-way, a Street Light Pole Use Agreement would need to be negotiated with the City.  If facilities are to be placed only on utility poles not owned by the City,  for example pursuant to agreements with the electric company or telephone company, a permit should still be obtained from the Streets Department Right of Way unit, but no pole use agreement with the City would be required.  If a property owner seeks authorization for use of the public rights-of-way to extend the parts of a house or other building into the space dedicated for public use, permits may be required from the Department of Licenses and Inspections pursuant to provisions of Chapter 11-200 of The Philadelphia Code.   

 

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28.  For information about City contracting opportunities and how to respond to them, visit http://www.phila.gov/contracts/ .  Choose "Bids Online" for competitive sealed bids to be awarded by the Procurement Department, which must be awarded to the lowest-priced qualified responsible, responsive bidder.  Choose "eContract Philly" for professional services contracts such as general consulting engineering, design, public health and social services.  Choose "Additional RFP's" for information on contract opportunities with some non-City agencies associated with the City (for example, Welcome America) and for certain specialized City contracts.

 

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29.  You will find contact information at http://www.phila.gov/law/index.html.  Also, phone numbers for almost all City employees are available at http://www.phila.gov/phonedir/.

 

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30.  Contact the Law Department Claims Coordinator, Karen Connor at 215-683-5410.

 

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31.  No.  All subpoenas (except DHS subpoenas) must be approved and stamped first at the Law Department at 1515 Arch Street, 14th Floor.  Then you must present the stamped subpoena to the City Department in question.  However, it is very helpful to call that Department in advance to find out its procedure as to copying and handling fees.  DHS subpoenas can be mailed or approved and stamped in person at 1515 Arch Street, 16th Floor.  You can also fax DHS subpoenas at 215-683-5162.

 

           31a. How do I serve a subpoena on an employee of the City of Philadelphia, or subpoena records from a City department? Contact the Claims Unit at one of these numbers 215-683-5400, 215-683-5410 or 215-683-5389 and someone will walk you through the process.

 

 

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32.  No.  City Departments cannot provide pension information.  Pension information should be requested from the City of Philadelphia?s Board of Pensions and Retirement - http://www.phila.gov/pensions/ which is located at Two Penn Center, on the 20th Floor.  Their general information phone number is 215-496-7400 and their Toll Free Information Number is 1-800-544-1173.

 

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33.  No, it is not an agency or division of the City; it is a Commonwealth Agency -             http://www.philapark.org/homeFlash.aspx

 

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