Landlords get more responsibilities in Jacksonville
by Laura Johnson
Mar 01, 2011 | 2859 views |  1 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As area college students are planning where they’ll live next year, Jacksonville officials are making some decisions that will affect some of their landlords next year.

The Jacksonville City Council passed two ordinances Monday that place greater responsibility on property owners. One of the ordinances is aimed at holding property owners responsible for “unruly gatherings,” and the other allows city officials to threaten rental license revocation against landlords who fail to maintain their property.

“I think they’re great,” Sherry Blanton, a Jacksonville resident, said of the ordinances. “I think it’s an attempt to help these police take care of some problems that have been bothering people.”

Blanton and some of her neighbors say that their once peaceful neighborhood, which is zoned for single family dwelling, has been changed drastically as more and more properties have become rentals. For months, they have been petitioning Jacksonville city leaders to do something to reduce the amount of traffic, the number of cars, and the volume of sound coming from some of the homes in their neighborhoods.

To do that, they have asked the city to reduce the number of unrelated people who can rent a home from five to two. Some say that, in their estimation, such a change would go a long way in reducing those behaviors they’ve identified as neighborhood problems.

The ordinances passed Monday were aimed at achieving that same goal, but will not do away with the numbers debate.

“I think those ordinances are hitting at a lot of the things that are out there,” said Mark Jones, a councilman.

The council still plans to vote on that matter but will first hold a public hearing on the issue. The hearing, which will be held March 28, is required by law.

It won’t be the first time the council has heard from the public about the number of people permitted to rent residents in Jacksonville neighborhoods. Supporters and opponents of reducing the number of renters to two per house in areas zoned for single family dwelling have spoken up at previous meetings.

Those opposing the change say the reduction would be too stringent, that it would be unfair to those who can’t afford to live in the neighborhoods without roommates and that it is aimed at student behavior. Supporters say it’s a zoning ordinance issue and that it’s the best way to manage the problems that some say have affected their quality of life.

“The college is near and dear to our hearts. We just don’t want eight cars parked in (nearby yards) like a parking lot,” said Chelsea Thornton who, lives in an area neighborhood with her husband David Thornton. “It’s not been that long since we were JSU students ourselves.”

Contact staff writer Laura Johnson at 256-235-3544.

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