Jackson city leaders aim to clean up blight with new rental registration ordinance, accountability system

Published: Dec. 16, 2022 at 12:55 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - In an effort to eliminate blight across Jackson, city leaders are proposing changes to its local ordinance.

The city held a public hearing Thursday to get the community’s feedback on its recommendations, including holding landlords and property owners more accountable.

“We have come to the stark reality that our neighborhoods, at least some of them, are in a state of decline and that state of decline will continue to spread to the other healthier neighborhoods,” said Chloe Dotson, Director of Planning and Development.

“What the city of Jackson wants to do is make sure that unit stays in a livable condition, and it doesn’t decline over years,” said Councilman Aaron Banks, who represents Ward 6.

One way the city is looking to get a grip on this issue is by putting more teeth into the current rental registration ordinance.

Some of the proposed requirements would make all landlords register their property, release the resident’s name that’s occupying the residence, go through an annual inspection to ensure the rental unit is in a livable condition, pay $50 per unit for the inspection fee, and require a registered agent to live in Jackson.

“We have to have these folks believing that this program will work and that it can be enforced, we have to have that,” said Councilman Vernon Hartley, who represents Ward 5.

“The local registered agent, it’s really about allowing us to get into those neighborhoods that have been abandoned and neglected. And tackle those homeowners that are non-responsive,” Dotson added.

During the hours-long meeting, a few concerns were raised about the proposed ordinance.

”What is critically important is that the city passes an ordinance that will pass legal scrutiny, I am nervous that will not happen,” said Bob Ireland, who’s an attorney working at Watkins & Eager PLLC.

“In the current document that I have seen, it also states that we are to release to you the resident’s name who is occupying that apartment, that unfortunately goes against privacy aspect laws,” said Michael Kevin Hodges, Vice President of Operations for Heritage Properties, Inc.

However, city leaders said they will consider all the concerns and make amendments to the proposed legislation.

”We’ll be hearing from our city attorney, we’ll be hearing the concerns from some of the constituents we talked to, and we’re going to try to make this a workable law so that we can get Jackson back together,” Banks added.

The proposed ordinance passed out of the rules committee. City leaders will now discuss the item during next Tuesday’s city council meeting.

If the ordinance gets passed and is adopted, it would go into effect within a month.

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