City Council approves measure encouraging habitability and safety of rentals

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The City Council last week approved a measure encouraging landlords to ensure the habitability and safety of their rental properties.

The resolution also requests that Mayor Lioneld Jordan direct his staff to research potential changes to the city code to provide greater protections to tenants.

Current city law addresses unsafe buildings and prohibits any house or building that “has become dilapidated, unsafe, unsanitary, or detrimental to the public welfare.”

The approved resolution acknowledges that Arkansas has no warranty of habitability and very poor tenant protections, and states that all tenants should have the right to live in a safe and structurally sound home.

The encouragement includes ensuring the structural integrity of homes, along with working plumbing, mechanical, electrical, and fire protection systems.

Council Member Sloan Scroggin sponsored the measure and said it’s something he’s wanted to bring up for a while since about half of Fayetteville’s residents are renters.

Council Member Kyle Smith said he recently spoke to the state’s Board of Realtors, and he got the sense that they were not interested in any regulations regarding rentals. However, he said he told the board that habitability standards aren’t just about aesthetics, but also about safety and housing values. He said he supports the proposal and looks forward to discussing more protections for renters in the future.

Council Member Sonia Gutierrez said she’s been a renter her entire adult life, and proposals like this would be helpful to renters.

Council Member Sarah Marsh said landlords should also be encouraged to keep their properties as energy efficient as possible to help keep renters’ utilities from skyrocketing in the summer and winter months.

There was no public comment.

» Read the adopted measure