Huntsville City Council President pushes for new rental ordinance

There is no timeline for when a new ordinance could be created and there are no specifics of what could be in the ordinance.

Posted: Jun 12, 2019 11:14 PM

A new rental ordinance to tighten regulations for property owners, and renters, is looking more likely in the City of Huntsville.

Right now, there is no timeline for when this ordinance would be created or what exactly it would entail, but City Council President Devyn Keith told WAAY 31 he is going to start working on it.

In 2018 the City of Huntsville saw a 5-year peak in code violations with 9753. That prompted concerns over rental properties and property owners who weren't keeping their homes up to code.

Drew James owns several homes and rents them out. He said a few repeat offenders created the concern, "Bad apple spoils it for everybody, you know how that goes," said James.

The statistics show a vast majority of the violations were for overgrown grass, but 12% of the violations were for standard housing code violations, "Chipping or peeling paint, a gutter that's not aligned properly, steps leading up to the house that need some attention," said the Director of Planning for Huntsville Michelle Jordan.

58% of those types of violations came from rental properties and only 68% of housing code violations were brought up to code in 2018. For all violations, there was a 93% compliance.

One realtor in Huntsville told WAAY 31 there are a lot of investors buying up houses in the area, which is leading to more renters. She said this issue boils down to educating those groups, "Those tenants need to be informed about what their rights are and the property owners need to be prepared to maintain their properties," said the Huntsville Area Association of Realtors President Cindi Peters-Tanner.

Right now, homeowners can face fines and even jail time if they don't fix up homes to meet city code. That is one reason why James does not support a possible new ordinance, "I'm just not really for that right now. I think it's unnecessary," said James.

The Community Development Department for the city has 12 inspectors to cover 218 square miles.  Jordan told WAAY 31 the department could always have more help but complimented the city for how much staffing they do have.

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