A popular “Madison is Not for Rent” Facebook page is no more, but the sentiment behind the page remains among some of city's elected officials.
It's unclear who published the now-defunct page formed around growing hysteria that the City of Madison would suffer from an invasion of sorts into their town.
The page connected Madison’s low crime rate, high property values, and great public facilities to its exclusion of apartments and other lower income housing facilities.
According to a cached version of the page, moderators did clarify their position on July 23 with a post that read: “We are not against rentals and low income housing in general. We are opposed to it in Madison.”
To get a little background on Madison’s attitude toward rentals, the Jackson Free Press unsuccessfully sought out Mayor Mary Hawkins Butler. We were able to get in touch with a number of Madison alderpeople who either declined to comment or cited ambiguously that it was Madison’s opinion to keep rentals out. For people like Alderman at Large Warren Strain that’s why there “will not be multifamily residences in Madison the City.”
The JFP was however able to talk at length with Alderman Ken Jacobs of Ward 3. He explained that page was misleading. Madison does, in fact, allow people to rent houses they own—they just have to pay a $10,000 surety bond, an annual $100 rental fee, complete the annual rental application (and fill another one out for every change in tenant) and pass a house inspection.
This hyper-regulated rental system, he explained discourages homeowners in Madison from renting out their properties. “The mayor likes people to come and stay," he said.
When asked about the possibility of rental apartments, Jacobs said: “Oh no. They tried to do (that) 10 or 12 years ago and (Butler) just definitely doesn’t want that so it’s never even hardly discussed really. No rental apartments.”
He explained that mayor doesn’t like rentals because they can bring in the undesirables, never mind that the renters of today are the homeowners of the future. He explained: “Transient people, properties go down in four or five years, and then you’ve got a lower class of people that will be coming in its just not what she has in (mind) for our city.”
Jacobs went on to say: “The people that usually go into rental properties, they usually aren’t of high quality. They work lower paying jobs. Next thing you know you have crime and you have disturbed citizens. If you can afford Madison, you’re welcome. We don’t discourage anyone.”