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Clarksville officials to consider amending new rental inspection program challenged in federal court

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The Clarksville Town Council will soon consider an amendment to the town's rental inspection program, following a lawsuit filed in March.

A federal lawsuit related to Clarksville’s delayed rental inspection program could be headed toward a resolution.

The program, which was supposed to go into effect earlier this year, requires all owners to register each residential rental unit. They’re to be inspected every three years, or more often if there are complaints or suspected code violations.

Inspections are done either by the Clarksville Building Commissioner’s office or a third party, depending on the property type. They include checking electrical and plumbing systems as well as building structure.

A lawsuit filed in March on behalf of a rental resident, Gary Carpenter, and other rental residents more broadly challenged the new requirements. ACLU of Indiana attorney Gavin Rose argued in court filings that searching a home without a warrant violates residents’ Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure.

The case could get closer to a resolution this month. In May, attorneys for the resident and the town filed a joint motion asking the court to cancel the initial hearing and put on hold the deadlines for the town to respond to both the complaint and the motion to certify the class. The court has not yet ruled on certifying the case as a class action.

The parties believe they may be able to resolve the matter without the court, they said in the filing.

“Any resolution is likely to be centered around a formal amendment to the challenged ordinance and will, of course, therefore be contingent on approval by the Clarksville Town Council,” according to the filing.

Town of Clarksville spokesperson Ken Conklin confirmed the council is expected to consider an amendment to the ordinance at its July 18 meeting, but wasn’t able to provide information on what the changes could be.

The parties in the case are expected to file a status report with the court by mid-July.

Coverage of Southern Indiana is funded, in part, by Samtec, Inc. and the Hazel & Walter T. Bales Foundation.

Aprile Rickert is LPM's Southern Indiana reporter. Email Aprile at arickert@lpm.org.