I suspect that the statute in question may be Section 11-104(1)(F) of municipal ordinances of the Town of Bloomsburg, PA, a university town (home to Bloomberg University of Pennsylvania, a public college) that purports to have special need for regulation based upon the large number of student rentals in the town and apparently applies primarily to house rentals to students. (If not, the ordinance in question may be modeled on this one, or this one may be modeled on the ordinance in question.) This ordinance imposes the following duties on people who have been granted landlord licenses, which the town requires of most landlords renting to students (a landlord is called the "owner" in the ordinance):
The owner shall maintain a current and accurate list of the occupants
in each regulated rental unit or dormitory unit which shall include
their name, permanent address and permanent telephone number which
shall be available to the Town for inspection upon reasonable notice.
The owner shall notify the Town of changes in the occupancy within 10
days of the change and shall provide the name of the person who is not
longer residing in the premises in the event a person departs and the
name, permanent address and permanent telephone number of new
occupants in the event a new person is added.
On its face, this is probably valid. There is not a constitutional right to keep your own contact information or address, or your tenant's identity. Indeed, very similar requirements are routinely imposed upon operators of hotels and motels. And, I strongly suspect that in Pennsylvania, that towns of any reasonable population have more or less plenary authority to adopt ordinances that aren't specifically prohibited by other state or federal laws or constitutions or the town charter.
I do not believe that there are any federal statutes that prohibit a town from imposing such a requirement, barring extraordinary circumstances like a duty to cooperate with national security measures, witness protection programs, or a federal organized crime investigation that don't benefit the average tenant.
The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) which affects websites that knowingly collect information about or targeted at
children under the age of 13. Any such websites must post a privacy
policy and adhere to enumerated information-sharing restrictions COPPA
includes a "safe harbor" provision to promote Industry
The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act requires institutions "significantly engaged" in financial activities give "clear, conspicuous, and
accurate statements" of their information-sharing practices. The Act
also restricts use and sharing of financial information.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) privacy rules requires notice in writing of the privacy practices of
health care services, and this requirement also applies if the health
service is electronic.
The California Online Privacy Protection Act of 2003 – Business and Professions Code sections 22575-22579 requires "any commercial
websites or online services that collect personal information on
California residents through a web site to conspicuously post a
Both Nebraska and Pennsylvania have laws treating misleading
statements in privacy policies published on websites as deceptive or
fraudulent business practices.
There is at least one state law that should supply an exemption to this statute in Pennsylvania pertaining to confidentiality for domestic violence victims that should override contrary town ordinances.
Address Confidentiality Program (ACP): Victims can get a legal
substitute address (usually a post office box) to use in place of
their physical address; this address can be used whenever an address
is required by public agencies. First class mail sent to the
substitute address is forwarded to the victim's actual address.
Probably the most fruitful means by which an ordinance like this one could be challenged would be to argue that the true intent of the ordinances when adopted or as it has been subsequently applied, is to use it for a purpose that the town is not allowed to engage in, such as enforcing immigration laws, suppressing voting rights, imposing a de facto poll tax, or engaging in discrimination against a protected class in violation of state and federal fair housing laws.
College students, however, the expressly stated and plausible target of the ordinance, are not generally a protected class under fair housing legislation.
There are precedents upholding zoning regulations discriminating against households of "Dwelling units presently being used by three or more unrelated individuals" aimed at students and other kind of populations whom municipal busybodies often find to be undesirable against federal constitutional challenges. See, e.g., Moore v. East Cleveland, 431 U.S. 494 (1977) and Village of Belle Terre v. Boraas, 416 U.S. 1 (1974). California's courts have been more hostile to this kind of legislation. See, e.g. City of Santa Barbara v. Adamson, 27 Cal. 3d 125 (Cal. 1980) (an op-ed arguing that this was wrongly decided in the L.A. Times in 1990 is here), but that isn't very helpful in Pennsylvania, and California rather than Pennsylvania is the outlier nationally on this kind of issue. The general issue over free association and privacy rights in connection with housing and unrelated individuals is discussed in an up to date manner in a 2016 Florida Law Review article.
Proving an improper purpose in an as applied or legislative intent based challenge to a facially neutral statute is very, very difficult in all but the most blatant cases (e.g. when town council members openly proclaim their improper purpose is that true purpose of the law).
No doubt recognizing the possibility of such a challenge to the ordinance, this particular ordinance has a particularly lengthy and detailed legislative declaration regarding its purpose that no doubt is an effort to take a position that it has a proper purpose in the event of future litigation. This states:
It is the purpose of this Part and the policy of the Town Council of
the Town of Bloomsburg, in order to protect and promote the public
health, safety and welfare of its citizens, to establish rights and
obligations of owners and occupants relating to the rental of certain
dwelling units and dormitory units in the Town of Bloomsburg and to
encourage owners and occupants to maintain and improve the quality of
rental housing within the community. It is also the policy of the Town
that owners, managers and occupants share responsibilities to obey the
various codes adopted to protect and promote public health, safety and
welfare. As means to those ends, this Part provides for a system of
inspections, issuance and renewal of occupancy licenses and sets
penalties for violations. This Part shall be liberally construed and
applied to promote its purposes and policies. In considering the
adoption of this Part, the Town of Bloomsburg makes the following
A. While the Town Council of the Town of Bloomsburg acknowledges the
significant contribution that Bloomsburg University, its students,
faculty and staff makes to the culture and economy of the Town of
Bloomsburg, in recent years, adverse effects of student housing on
residential neighborhoods have increased and there has been an
increase in destructive student behavior that threatens the health,
safety and welfare of the student citizens and non-student citizens of
the Town of Bloomsburg.
B. Accordingly, the Town Council of the Town of Bloomsburg makes the
following findings relating to student housing and its effect on the
residential neighborhoods of the Town of Bloomsburg and the effect of
student lifestyles on the health, safety and welfare of the student
citizens and non-student citizens of the Town of Bloomsburg:
(1) When compared to other unrelated cohabitating individuals and
traditional families, groups of students have different hours, work
and social habits and frequently cause noise, disturbances and
problems in residential neighborhoods.
(2) There is a greater incidence of violations of various codes of the
Town at residential properties where owners rent such property to
(3) There is a greater incidence of problems with the maintenance and
upkeep of residential properties where owners rent such property to
students than at owner-occupied residential properties,
family-occupied residential rental properties or residential
properties that are occupied by unrelated persons who are not
(4) There is a greater incidence of disturbances which adversely
affect the peace and quiet of the neighborhood at residential
properties where owners rent to students than at owner-occupied
residential properties, family-occupied residential rental properties
or residential properties that are occupied by unrelated persons who
are not students.
(5) A concentration of student homes changes the character of a
neighborhood from one with traditional family values to one that
cannot maintain those and approximately 90% of the Town's student
homes are concentrated in two areas of the Town which displaces middle
and lower income housing by absorbing housing units and rendering the
remaining units less desirable for more traditional residential use.
(6) Since 1994, nine students have died as a result of fires in houses
occupied by students; two students have died of alcohol overdose; one
student has died as a result of exposure when he fell from a porch at
a student party.
(7) Since 1997, 155 reports of disruptive conduct under the Town's
Regulated Rental Unit Occupancy Ordinance involving student behavior
have been filed.
(8) Since 1996, 73 prosecutions for unlawfully occupying premises
while smoke or fire detectors were not operational have been filed
(9) Since 1998, 295 prosecutions for underage drinking have been filed
against students and 11 prosecutions were filed against non-student
residents of the Town of Bloomsburg.
(10) Since 1998, 43 student parties have been raided where arrests
were made for underage drinking and furnishing alcohol to minors.
(11) There are sufficient differences between student housing and
nonstudent housing and the behavior of students and non-student
residents to justify different regulations for each class of resident.
(12) Dwelling units presently being used by three or more unrelated
individuals are being modified for occupancy by two students requiring
the relocating of bearing walls and the modification of utilities,
sanitation facilities, means of ingress and egress and smoke and fire
(13) Inspections of dwelling units occupied by two students have
revealed little or no life protecting equipment in the dwelling units
such as smoke and fire alarms and detectors and fire extinguishers,
over-loaded electrical services, heating systems needing servicing and
the use of supplemental heaters, all of which create a dangerous
(14) There is a significant occurrence of disruptive behavior in
dwelling units occupied by less than three unrelated students as
compared to dwelling units that are occupied by owners, traditional
families or unrelated persons who are not students.
(15) Students who remain in the occupancy of the premises for periods
of time after they are no longer students contribute to the
(16) Because of the demand for student housing in the Town of
Bloomsburg, developers have expressed interest in developing
properties for use as dormitories where students live in rooms without
fixed kitchen facilities.
(17) Dormitory type uses are not covered by the Regulated Rental Unit
Occupancy Ordinance which applies only to dwelling units.
(18) The Town Council of the Town of Bloomsburg is desirous of
providing the same protection and standards for students who reside in
dormitories or dwelling units.
(19) The Town Council of the Town of Bloomsburg is desirous of
imposing the same responsibilities upon owners of dormitory units and
dwelling units where students reside.
(20) The Town Council of the Town of Bloomsburg finds that Bloomsburg
University has sufficient resources and interest to properly manage
dormitories owned by it and there is no need to regulate such
Even though it probably isn't inherently invalid, it is unusual, so it is likely to be challenged if someone can find an angle to do so. And, I suspect that its purposes are not as pure as those formally identified in the text of the ordinance.
In conclusion, while I would totally hate to have an ordinance like that one in my town, it isn't obviously invalid and would probably survive a facial challenge in the absence of evidence that is was being applied in an illegally discriminatory manner.