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Madison rental ordinance dispute before Miss. Supreme Court

JACKSON — The Mississippi Supreme Court has agreed to review property owner Mike Crook’s challenge to a city of Madison ordinance he argues was designed to keep renters out of the Jackson suburb.

Crook was convicted in 2011 of violating the ordinance and fined $600. The state Court of Appeals denied Crook’s appeal in 2014.

City officials say Crook, a former Madison County chancery clerk and ex-Ridgeland aldermen, didn’t post a $10,000 bond required under the ordinance despite numerous letters and phone calls to him.

A city judge ruled Madison’s ordinance was constitutionally sound and in compliance with state law. But Crook argued charging landlords a $10,000 bond to rent in a home is a way to keep renters out.

Under the ordinance, passed in 2008, landlords must post bonds or other adequate sureties to be in compliance with Madison’s safety codes, according to the city attorney’s office.

Crook lost appeals in Madison County Court and circuit court. A circuit judge upheld Crook’s conviction and fine in 2012.

The city argued it has a right to adopt ordinances dealing with general public health and safety.

The Appeals Court said Madison’s ordinance was not unconstitutional. The court said a city has an interest in regulating property and enacting building codes and zoning regulations to prevent the deterioration of property values.

The Supreme Court agreed Thursday to hear Crook’s appeal.

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