Memphis official calls for ban on ‘eviction set-out’

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Memphis City Council may throw another roadblock to slow a potential wave of evictions.

Councilman JB Smiley, Jr. plans to call for a new ordinance banning landlords from tossing people’s stuff out on the streets during evictions next week.

“We hear a lot of talk about things that we can do,” Smiley said. “This is an opportunity to create solutions to real problems in this city.”

The practice is known as “eviction set-out” and Smiley said it’s become an eyesore in some low-income communities.

“And what you see in the impoverished communities, the property stays on the street for months at a time, and it creates an eyesore,” Smiley said. “It brings down morale for the folks that live in the community and property values.”

His plan would require landlords to give tenants a chance to gather their belongings and move them. If anything is left behind, landlords would have to either donate them to charity, send them to a landfill or remove them by some other legal means.

Smiley says it’s a concept used in Baltimore. 

“What happens is the landowners or the property management owner, they contract with a private entity to remove the things to take it immediately to a land-fill site, or charity or a storage unit, but at no point in time would they be permitted to leave it on city streets,” Smiley said.

This proposal is the latest in the blight fight. The councilman says he’s also working with county commissioners and state legislators to tackle other dumping-related problems as well. 

“It’s one step, one solution at a time,” Smiley said.

Smiley plans to call for the new ordinance next Tuesday.

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