Several DeSoto County mayors met recently to discuss the possible need for a rental property ordinance in their cities to account for the growing number of rentals in the county.
In Southaven, officials are considering charging rental property owners a fee which will be used to create a registry of where rental properties are located and to hire more code enforcement officers.
Olive Branch may add to its current property code, while Hernando has no code at all.
Olive Branch Mayor Ken Adams said an ordinance was created for all homes to abide by in January 2022. All violations in Olive Branch have been treated the same, but a new ordinance could soon apply exclusively to rentals.
“We’re looking at the issue right now with the city attorney and should know more by our second board meeting in June," Adams said.
A rental property ordinance could cut down on maintenance and curbside appearance issues. Adams said not only would the ordinance directly hold rental property owners accountable, it could keep a poorly-maintained property from bringing down property values in the neighborhood.
Hernando Mayor Chip Johnson said aldermen have not discussed a rental property ordinance yet, but are aware of the problem. The first step in Hernando though, would be to create a property maintenance code, which he pushed for previously.
“Right now, if your neighbor has garbage stacked up in piles in their carport, there’s nothing we can do,” Johnson said. “A property maintenance code would give us the ability to do something about that. That would be the first step, but the board hasn’t really brought it up yet.”
Johnson said he has heard concerns from residents about large rental companies not maintaining their properties. The city could take action with a code in place, or through a rental property ordinance.
The issue has not been a major concern in Hernando, but Johnson said he would like to be proactive.
“It’s not a huge issue yet, but when you see it you want to get it taken care of,” Johnson said. “It’s not going to be there to pick on people, it just gives us the ability to step in whenever there is a problem, whenever we need to.”
Horn Lake plans to take a similar path as Southaven.
Ward 6 Aldermen Robby Dupree said the city has drafted both a property maintenance ordinance and a rental ordinance to help clean up blighted property and to make sure rentals are maintained.
“You have companies coming here from out of state that are buying up 50 or 60 properties with the intention of renting them out,” Dupree said. “And without an office here, who do you turn to when there is a problem? They’re not going to answer an e-mail.”
About 38.8 percent of homes in Horn Lake are rentals.
Dupree, along with Aldermen Jackie Bostick and Dave Young, looked at similar ordinances across the state that have been adopted. Horn Lake’s ordinance would charge owners a $200 business fee and create a database.
“We are going to clean up the city,” Dupree said. “Some people are on Facebook complaining about how it is government overreach. Well, do you care about all of the blight that is here in the city? People are going to have to keep their property up or be fined.”
Mayor Allen Latimer agrees and said owning rental property is no different than any other business and should be required to pay a permit fee.
“It’s a much, much needed ordinance,” Latimer said. “When I was in business I had to pay a permit fee every year. I think $100 or $200 is a very reasonable permit fee for a business. I had to pay $1800 a year. Plus, if there is a problem and the property is not being kept up, the citation will go directly to the property owner, not the renter.”
Mark Randall contributed to this report.