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Montgomery cracking down on apartments without licenses

Published: Jan. 4, 2022 at 11:23 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The city of Montgomery is making progress in their fight to crack down on a number of businesses operating without a license.

It’s been six months since the discovery of around 1,000 businesses, including 12 apartment complexes, operating illegally.

According to Mayor Steven Reed, of the 12 apartment complexes caught operating without licenses, 10 are now compliant. Two apartment complexes remain unlicensed and continue to be investigated.

Reed said the City Council and his staff have been working hard to identify the apartments operating without licenses and are holding them accountable.

“If they’re not following through on their obligations to the city and to their residents, then we’re going to crack down on that,” Reed said.

“What we’re trying to do is one, revamp the transparency of letting people know how they obtain a business license, as well as letting them know what the consequences are if they do not,” Reed said.

The city says 12 landlords were likely renting out apartments, collecting money, not paying taxes and then leaving. With the ownership of apartments flipping, it makes it hard to contact landlords to enforce the ordinance.

It’s a problem Reed said was exacerbated during the pandemic with employees in the finance department’s license and revenue division struggling to physically check business licenses.

“There was a change over where we were not able to send over physical inspectors to make sure these complexes had licenses,” Reed said.

“Some of these (apartment complexes) are out of state owners and we’ve had to also share with them what our expectations are here as a city and what the consequences are if they don’t abide by those rules,” Reed added.

However, business licenses are not the only problem. District 6 Councilmen Oronde Mitchell says some apartments in his district, like Serenity Apartments at the Park at 4900 Plaza Dr., are failing to meet security and public safety codes.

“I’ve been hearing a lot about leaky roofs, mold in certain areas,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell gave Serenity a 30-day opportunity to fix some of his concerns. An attorney with the complex was then asked to come before the council Tuesday night and prove the changes were made and that they were ultimately worthy of keeping their license.

“There was a lot of things that they were supposed to correct,” Mitchell said. “They had raw sewage so they were supposed to have a contract with a plumber, they had leaky roofs, so there was a lot of things I needed to see in person I didn’t want it in writing I wanted evidence of those things that I asked for.”

Mitchell ended the council meeting with an appointment to go see the changes made himself, in person.

“I am doing everything I can to make sure that the residents, first are safe, but they are living in a healthy condition,” Mitchell said.

It’s this level of accountability Mitchell and other city leaders say they will continue to enforce to ensure proper living conditions are being met and these businesses are operating under the law.

Reed said the majority of real estate owners are operating with a proper license.

Of the remaining two noncompliant apartment complexes, city council is allowing them an opportunity to make changes before reconsidering whether or not to revoke their licenses.

The council did unanimously vote in favor of a resolution Tuesday for a show cause hearing to take place at the next council meeting on January 18th to determine if the RavenWood Apartments at 2230 Woodley Square West should or should not have their business license revoked.

If you are experiencing an issue at your apartment complex, the city asks that you visit their website for more information and resources.

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