HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Officials are working on a new way to keep tabs on rental properties around the Hub City.
Director of Urban Development Andrew Ellard presented City Council with a proposed rental property ordinance Monday evening. Ellard said council members had expressed a need for a set of regulations when it comes to renting certain properties in the past.
"I think they see it as a quality of life issue, they see it as an opportunity to protect neighborhoods and ensure that property values don't deteriorate," said Ellard. "Not all rental properties are bad, there are great rental properties in the city, but some more need more attention from others sometimes."
Ellard told council members through research, he's found there to be about 5,800 properties with rented units in the city. The proposed ordinance would cover single-family housing units or duplexes that are not owner occupied.
The proposed ordinance is not intended be a "renter hotline," or to put the city as the mediator with a civil dispute.
"What we'd be mostly concerned with would be conditions of properties that would be threats to life, health, safety of occupant or their neighbors," Ellard said.
"Our people are living in atrocious conditions and paying rent," said council member Deborah Delgado. "I'm concerned about a tenant who has a bathroom floor that is dropped down and makes a complaint and then gets kicked out by a landlord."
"That's a very great concern," said Ellard. "I think that the safety assessment portion of the ordinance creates an opportunity where properties will be assessed every two years, as it's drafted right now, so to some degree that alleviates some concern that already exists."
The registration fee would be $25. Ellard said the ordinance would mean two, maybe three employees would be needed to run the department. He said those positions would be funded by the registration fees.
The next step for the proposed ordinance would be to be added to an upcoming agenda for approval by council members.