The Greenville City Council held two of the three scheduled public hearings on the topic of occupancy permits on Thursday. Occupancy permits would require passing a city inspection before a new home owner or renter can occupy the house or apartment. The second meeting consisted of a vast majority of local real estate agents. All that spoke during the meeting were against the idea of occupancy permits in Greenville. Lester Harnetiaux began the public hearing by voicing his opinion that occupancy permits could hurt property values in Greenville. Lester said that if property values go down due to the new regulation, then tax revenues go down, then it would be likely that tax rates would go up to make up the difference in the revenue.
When asked about the need for occupancy permits City Manager Dave Willey said houses with unaddressed safety issues are a danger for the whole community. Willey asked the group of real estate agents what they might suggest to help combat the problem of unrepaired and derelict properties. The suggestion was made to help educate renters about their rights to safe housing. Currently if a renter feels that the property they are renting has unsafe conditions they can request an inspection by the city code enforcement officer. That information could be included with water bills from the city or given to renters as they sign their lease.
It’s not known how many apartments or homes have issues with unsafe conditions that are not up to code, however all agreed that the majority of properties in Greenville are well maintained. The last public hearing on the topic of occupancy permits is schedule for Tuesday the 22nd at 6PM at city hall.