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City of Opelika passes rental ordinance; properties must be registered

Published: Sep. 22, 2021 at 7:24 PM EDT
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OPELIKA, Ala. (WTVM) - After almost two months of controversy, a newly passed rental ordinance in Opelika will be changing things up for rental property owners. While this was a moment of celebration for some residents, it was a moment of disappointment for others.

This new ordinance will be changing things up for rental property owners, but city officials say they believe the decision to pass the ordinance was the right way to go.

“I just feel like some people may abuse the ordinance,” said an Opelika resident.

Opelika’s decision now requires all rental properties to register all of their units through an online program excluding hotels, churches, medical facilities, government owned rental property and owner-occupied rental units.

”You know, your car is registered, you have a driver’s license. So, you are registered. So, it’s all kinds of registrations,” said Mayor Gary Fuller.

The registration fee is $5 per unit and Mayor Fuller says, among other things, it will help the city keep track of how many rental properties are in the city.

”Today, we don’t know if we have 2,000 rental properties or 5,000 rental properties. So, it will be a requirement to have those properties registered,” he said.

While the inspection check list is almost three pages long, Fuller says they will have about three months to figure things out.

”They will have until the end of December to bring all their properties up to code to our checklist code,” Fuller said.

If you do not register or keep your rental property up to the expectations outlined in these documents, the penalty could be a fine or even jail time.

”If you just choose and refuse to abide by the ordinance, there has to be some repercussions,” warned Eddie Smith, city council president.

While city leaders say the goal is to make all rental housing safer in the Opelika, some rental property owners say this ordinance is going make it harder on them.

Annie Jones, who owns more than 40 properties, says she is going to consider moving some properties out of the city.

“They mention, however, many people call for that one particular property that we will have to pay $50 each time and that could be from a disgruntle tenant and that could get expensive,” Jones said.

Smith says the city plans to begin creating registration requirement soon begin enforcing them starting October 1 through the end of December.

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