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Buffalo Grove Adopts Rental Home Inspection Program

Beginning in 2013, village inspectors will visit apartments and other rented homes to ensure they meet Buffalo Grove's maintenance codes. Owners must register their properties and pay annual licensing fees.

Rental properties in Buffalo Grove will undergo regular inspections beginning in 2013, under an ordinance adopted Monday night.

Trustees voted 5-1 to add a residential rental housing program to the village code. The program aims to “protect the health, safety and welfare of the resident of the community” by having village inspectors ensure that rented homes meet life safety standards outlined in the municipal code. The ordinance aims to:

  • protect the public health and safety by ensuring rental units comply with minimum housing standards of village ordinances;
  • protect the character and stability of residential areas;
  • correct and prevent housing conditions that adversely affect or are likely to adversely affect the life, safety, general welfare and health, including the physical, mental and social well being of persons occupying dwellings;
  • prevent the overcrowding of dwellings by requiring compliance with minimum space standards per occupant for each dwelling unit;
  • facilitate the enforcement of minimum standards for the maintenance of existing residential  building and thus to prevent slums and blight;
  • preserve the value of land and building throughout the village. 

“What we’d be looking for are property maintenance code issues,” said Carol Berman, deputy building commissioner. “We don’t want to be punitive. We want compliance.”

When violations are found, code officials will set a deadline for the owner to rectify the situation and schedule a second inspection date. Owners whose properties don’t comply with the village code will lose their rental licenses and will be given 60 days to vacate their tenants.

Officials did not specify Monday what sort of violations they'd report, but during a discussion last year, they mentioned such areas as plumbing, electricity and pest control.

Six employees in the building and zoning department will spend part of their days inspecting rented homes, said Berman, who pitched an early version of the proposal to village officials in 2011.

Officials' feedback

While officials made some last-minute revisions to the ordinance Monday night, some voiced support for the program while others expressed concerns.

“Whether they’re buying a home, building a home or renting a home, everyone should have a safe place to be,” said Trustee Mike Terson, who also supported the 2011 proposal.

Trustee Jeff Berman, who voiced concerns about inspections last year, said Monday he wasn’t completely sold on the ordinance. “I still have some concerns as to whether this is the right thing for the village to be doing,” he said. He ultimately voted in favor of the ordinance, but asked that staff provide quarterly reports about the program.

The strongest opposition came from Village President Jeff Braiman. “I’m not against public health and safety; to the contrary. But I don’t think this is something we should be getting into,” he said.

By singling out rented homes for inspections, “I think it’s making a distinction between class of ownership,” he said. And, he added, “there are certain privacy rights that we’re intruding on.”

Braiman only casts a vote when the six trustees are deadlocked. That was not the case Monday night.

Trustee Andy Stein, who cast the lone vote against the ordinance, suggested that staff might not be able to juggle the inspections with their existing work duties. He proposed that the village phase in the inspections by beginning with single-family homes.

Carol Berman said the staff was aware of the ordinance and “everybody is on board with this.”

Effective 2013

Beginning Jan. 1, property owners will be required to obtain a rental license from the village each year. To apply, owners must provide their name and contact information, an emergency contact, information about the management company and details about the property, including the address and how many units it includes. 

Licenses will cost $75 for rented single family homes, condominiums, town homes and row homes, while apartment building owners will be charged $150 per building plus $30 per unit. The annual fees include an initial inspection and a follow-up inspection, if necessary.

Twenty-five percent of the village’s 1,420 apartments will be inspected each year. All other rented homes, which also number around 1,400, will be inspected every year.

Additional rentals are likely, she added, as people invest in foreclosed homes or short sales. Currently, 187 homes in Buffalo Grove are either vacant or pending eviction, she said.

Other nearby villages with rental programs include Mount Prospect, Palatine, Prospect Heights, Schaumburg, Rolling Meadows and Wheeling,

Carol Berman said the management companies contracted by some developments will help the village identify which units are rented. Other rented homes will be hard to determine, she acknowledged, and will likely be identified with the help of transfer stamps, township records and citizen input.

What do you think of this ordinance? Tell us in the comment section below.

Jerry Cain October 02, 2012 at 02:28 PM
Just another money grab by Village.
Joan Colquit October 02, 2012 at 02:33 PM
This is another example of government going where it has no right. Definately a very bad idea. The village is obviously looking for additional revenue -- this is not the way to get it. How about showing a little fiscal responsibility. There is no one in public office in Buffalo Grove that I would vote for today given their track records. Case in point, the Park District -- do we have a spare $3.7 ,million dollars to spend on a facility that the voters rejected previously? We need a clean sweep in the Village of Buffalo Grove -- from top to bottom
RELENTLESSCRITIC October 02, 2012 at 03:12 PM
Joan- you obviously haven't been paying attention. Do a search on the Patch to find the articles on the many forms of recognition that the village has received from outside entities for their financial management practices...and while you're at it, look at the articles on the village's excellent credit ratings. Then, do some research on how often BG has raised taxes as compared with many, if not all of the surrounding communities (the answer- not many increase in BG). When you're finished with that, take a look at how many municipal employees (cops, firemen and public works) that BG has layed off over the last several years compared with all those other surrounding communities. (The answer is NONE). You're way off-base with your views about village finances. Maybe do more than just read the headlines next time. Look at any other similar community within 20 miles of here to see how BG stacks up in terms of financial stability and fiscal responsibility. And by the way- I'm completely in favor of these inspections. It keeps owners responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of rental properties that could otherwise easily fall into disrepair and bring down property values in the entire community. Drive down to Wheeling or Palatine to see what happens when there's little oversight for rental properties. I'd prefer that that doesn't happen in my neighborhood.
Janet Sirabian October 02, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Joan, please research the fiscal responsibility of Buffalo Grove, and you will very few municipalities that can top us. Also the Village of Buffalo Grove and the Buffalo Grove Park District are two completely different entities.
Janet Sirabian October 02, 2012 at 03:28 PM
Oops - "...and you will find very few municipalities that can top us."
Heather Gerrard October 02, 2012 at 05:03 PM
I lived in BG for many years in a rented condo. There is a tremendous need for this program! I was so taken advantage of by the owner, who by the way owned 5 units. I didn't have a working stove for over a year, (he refused to provide it), he never did ANY maintainence at all, and my ceiling fell in due to a bad storm and he blamed me! He tried to add the fire alarm (village mandated) to my rent, and in the end never gave me my deposit back, because he felt his 30 year old fixtures didn't look perfect. I had terrible plumbing problems, and in one bathroom the wall had pulled away from the shower so it was not useable. I wanted to move so many times, but I was a single mom, working 10 hour days, raising two children. I did call the village many times and they were always supportive. This condo was located in a good neighborhood by the way. Most of the others had been updated. Mine was supposed to be but never was. I applaud the Village for standing up for those of us that must rent due to our circumstances!
RELENTLESSCRITIC October 02, 2012 at 05:06 PM
My point exectly, Heather. People need to understand that this happens all the time- they just may not hear about it. Hope it worked out for you in the end.
Abigail October 02, 2012 at 09:57 PM
Another thing, the village needs to keep unscrupulous landlords from overpopulating their units. Would you want 10 people living in the 2-bedroom unit next door to you? I certainly wouldn't! Plus the tenants need protection from landlords like the one Heather experienced. I'm surprised the village didn't initiate this sooner.
Wendy Hutchins October 05, 2012 at 10:21 AM
This is an abomination! This is an invasion of privacy to the nth degree! Whatever happened to the phrase, "probable cause"?? This is just another indication of the Obama-mindset that has filtered down to even the local level. Our founding fathers would be as appalled as I am!
sankar October 05, 2012 at 01:45 PM
Officials have to inform the owners prior to inspection on what they will be inspecting. I do not think the village have any right to enforce anything other than basic living amenities, like plumbing, electricity, adequate and proper heating for winter, doors that can be locked and fire/smoke alarms. The renter will look for these and more. On Heather's comments, I do not think the village can force the owner to buy a stove or can decide what should be in the rent. Village will not be the authority to determine if the owner or renter has to pay for the ceiling collapse. They look like civil disputes, to be decided based on rental agreement or by the state laws. I do not know that there are rules on over crowding that are exclusive to rented homes and not owned homes. Apartments managed by a professional group put limit on number of residents and that is why folks with big families who need rentals go to individually owned places. I wonder what the village is gaining by this program. That is not highlighted. Will the renter be provided with a list of items that were inspected and passed by the village?. Will the renters be able to call the village and report on issues?. Will that lead to the village going for another re-inspection, that will be covered under $75. Is the village going to be the intermediary for the renters and the owners?. If the renter is causing damage to an inspected item, can the owner contact the village for resolution?.

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