Rentals and taxes discussed at Morenci council meeting 8.15

Written by David Green.

It’s been a while since rental housing dominated a city council meeting, but the topic was widely discussed Monday when two property owners spoke about the condition of certain structures in town.

For Larry and Jean Hardy, the problem is a combination of high taxes and low property upkeep.

The property that the Hardys most recently renovated is located next to the former Blanchard Hospital on N. Summit Street, a building that Larry Hardy says is a beautiful structure but in need of much repair.

“It needs to be condemned if it’s not cleaned up,” he said. “You need to call the health department.”

Hardy believes an increase in the number of rental units in recent years has had a negative impact on the city.

Council member Keith Pennington said there is no legal basis for controlling the number of rental units.

“We have to make the landlords accountable,” councilor Peggy Decker said. “Who would want to buy your house next to the hospital?” she asked the Hardys.

Mayor Russ Sutherland said that some landlords sell houses on a land contract and even some apartments are sold as condo units, thereby skirting the city’s rental inspection program. The land contracts often fall through and the property is back on the market again.

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