The Jefferson County Landlord Association is working closely with Pine Bluff Mayor Debe Hollingsworth to ensure that landlords with residential property in the city who knowingly rent to tenants engaged in criminal activity are held accountable, according to JCLA president Jean Painton.
“I am 100 percent behind the mayor,” Painton said Wednesday evening. “She and I both want to improve Pine Bluff. Since 40 percent of the residences in Pine Bluff are rental properties, the first step is to come up with a way to be able to identify the property owners for all of those properties.”
Painton said that Hollingsworth’s plan to have all landlords with residential property in the city acquire a business permit and list all of the rental properties that they own is a needed first step.
“Right now, if you need to find out who owns a property that the police have been called to repeatedly, it is very difficult to do so,” Painton said. “If you go the Jefferson County Courthouse to try to find this information, it’s just not there. We have to come up with a way to reliably identify the owners of each property in the city.”
Painton said that the business permit is just the first step in a plan to increase neighborhood safety and quality of life.
“We are trying to keep our neighborhoods from being brought down by landlords renting out properties to drug dealers,” Painton said. “Any landlord who does that needs to be held accountable for bringing undesirables into a neighborhood and in the process lowering everyone’s property values.”
Painton said that the Mayor’s Office and the JCLA are working together to make sure that the permit plan passes legal muster and is enforced against all landlords whether local or absentee.
“The Landlord Association is partnering with the Mayor’s Office and the SAFE Team to make our neighborhoods better places to live,” Painton said.
Hollingsworth publicly announced the business permit plan Monday night at a town hall meeting held at the Pine Bluff Convention Center.
The mayor floated the idea of charging a $25 fee for the permit and having it waived for all landlords who are members of the JCLA as a way of encouraging membership in that organization.