By Emily Le Coz | NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Landlords must abide by a new set of rules come Jan. 1 under a new ordinance approved Tuesday by the City Council.
The council passed the measure 6-1 with Ward 1 Councilman Markel Whittington the sole opponent.
Under the new ordinance, owners of rental properties within the city limits must pay an annual $25-per-unit registration fee and submit to a housing inspection every two years.
Those who don’t pass the first two inspections, which are free, must pay for subsequent inspections. After five failures, they could wind up in court. The city will not allow landlords to rent properties that fail inspection.
The new rules replace Tupelo’s current program, which was adopted in 2007. It had charged landlords $10 annually if they had between one and three units, $30 annually if they had four to 10 units and $100 annually for 11 or more. Inspections under that program were free regardless of how many it required.
“I’m not against the ordinance,” Whittington said. “I voted against the $25 per door they’re going to charge landlords. They’re penalizing good landlords. Most of those people maintain good properties, they pay more taxes, more insurance and now you’re going to add more on to them.”
Tupelo has approximately 5,100 rental units.
The new ordinance will generate roughly $125,000 annually through registration fees. The funds will help offset the cost of an additional code enforcement officer, bringing Tupelo’s total to three. The rest of the money will go into the city’s general fund.