Renters ordinance battle in Pearl - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Renters ordinance battle in Pearl

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
PEARL, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

A battle is brewing over a Pearl renters ordinance, that already has heard arguments in Federal and state courts. 

Attorneys representing Pearl property owners say they're being unfairly targeted under a new rental ordinance.

"I think they're trying to force minorities, low income, moderate income people out of the city of Pearl and specifically force the mobile home park owners and apartment owners out of the city of Pearl," said attorney Steve Smith. "We think it's unlawful and unconstitutional."

Smith will represent three property managers during their initial appearances Tuesday, for failure to register their rental units. The fee is $25 per unit, but the property owners missed the deadline, and now some owe 10's of thousands in late fees.

"We think that's unlawful, unconstitutional," added Smith. "We think it's an unlawful tax."

"This is not a situation where were saying you haven't retrofitted your apartments or anything like that," said Lt. Brian McGairty of the Pearl Police Department. "This is simply basically registering the property to say this is rental property inside the city limits of Pearl."

City officials say they created the ordinance to fight urban blight, and the negative effect apartments and trailer parks can have on nearby neighborhoods.

"A lot of times these renters that are barely able to pay rent are paying a subsidized or lower amount of rent in exchange for living in maybe a hazardous situation," added McGairty. "That's all they can do so they put themselves in harms way, at a risk of saving money." 

The Pearl renters ordinance also requires renters to install sprinkler systems, storm shelters and warning systems.

Rental ordinances aren't that unusual. Lots of cities around the metro have them. We found a registration form from Clinton and it has a standard $25.00 per unit fee on it.

The city of Pearl says they've already had over 2,400 properties registered.

Copyright, 2016 MSNewsNow. All rights reserved.

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