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Public weighs in on long-term rental registry, met mostly with praise and some criticism

Metro councilmembers held a public forum Tuesday. Several residents said the bill is the right move to protect tenants, while one landlord said he has concerns.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — An ordinance that would crack down on long-term rental landlords is receiving praise and criticism.

Metro councilmembers held public forum Tuesday night in the Shawnee neighborhood. Several residents said the bill is the right move to protect tenants, while one landlord said he has concerns.

"Landlord investors have skated by for so many years, put people in dangerous living condition, not caring,” Councilmember Donna Purvis, D-5, said.

"My brother suffered severe illness from lead poisoning from bad housing, bad landlords,” Shameka Parrish-Wright, who came to support the ordinance, said.

The ordinance would make the long-term registry public and available online. Property owners’ name, phone number, email and address could be viewed.

Councilmembers said this would increase transparency, and it would hold long-term rental owners to the same standard as short-term owners who can be found online.

Also, landlords would have to pay $100 to register for the first year and $50 annually. The legislation says the fee would be waived the following year if there are no code violations found at the property. However, failure to register would start at $100 per housing unit per day and could result in a lien on the property.

Additionally, landlords would have to submit an affidavit that says their property is up to code.

Plus, the ordinance would enforce random inspections for 10% of the rental properties in the area every year.

Councilwoman Keisha Dorsey, D-3, said the ordinance is important, especially for tenants in the west end.

"The expectation is that, 'oh, I can get away with my property being a little subpar and no one does anything about it.' That ends with the ordinance,” she said.

Jasmine Harris, founder of the New Directions Tenants Union, spoke at the meeting, recounting terrible living conditions at one of the complexes.

"There have been times when the water was grey. There have been times when they've been infestations,” she said.

Harris, and others, are pushing back on the owners of New Directions, and she’s calling on the council to do the same. Council members Dorsey and Purvis said they know about the issues and they plan to take action.

Harris said she hopes this ordinance can protect tenants from these kinds of situations.

“If it still does happen in the future, I hope there’s other unions that form as well,” she said.

Landlord Gregg Wagner said he felt the tone of the meeting placed all property owners in a box. The Louisville-native said he's cared for his tenants for 32 years.

"It really did offend me, quite honestly,” he said.

Wagner also said his private information shouldn't be available for everyone to see online.

He said the already overwhelming number of calls from out-of-town corporations vying to buy his property will only get worse.

"They're not from Louisville. They've got no intention of coming to Louisville,” Wagner said. “The landlords who live in Louisville have an incentive to make sure all parts of Louisville do good."

Council members said the ordinance goes before a committee on September 13.

► Contact reporter Bobbi McSwine at BMcSwine@whas11.com or on Facebook or Twitter  

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