In an effort to better enforce village codes pertaining to residences, village officials are considering a proposal to register all rental properties and conduct regular inspections of those homes to ensure certain safety measures are in place.
“This is not only protecting the citizens of Buffalo Grove. We also get calls from tenants that we have no jurisdiction to help with,” Deputy Building Commissioner Carol Berman told trustees during a committee meeting Monday night.
Under the plan developed by village staff, single-family rental homes would be inspected annually, while units in multi-family buildings would be reviewed every three years.
Property owners would pay $75 for an inspection of a single-family home and $150 for a multi-family building, plus $30 for each unit. The fees would cover the initial inspection and one follow-up inspection. Additional fees would be assessed for further inspections.
Similar fees are assessed by nearby villages, including Wheeling, Palatine, Schaumburg and Mount Prospect, officials said.
Buffalo Grove inspectors would be on the lookout for “basic life safety issues” such as smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, pest control, and code-compliant plumbing and electrical systems, Berman said.
The proposal comes as village officials note that foreclosed homes are being purchased and rented out. Records show that there are about 337 foreclosed homes in the village. Officials said the program would require inspections of 1,420 rental apartments and an estimated 2,000 additional rented single-family homes, condos and townhomes.
Berman estimated that the program would generate at least $60,000 annually for the village, while potentially making rental properties safer for tenants.
Trustees responded to the plan with mixed reviews.
Mike Terson, who once rented a home in the village, said he empathizes with tenants whose landlords don’t properly maintain their property.
“I’m 100 percent behind this. I think it’s a great thing to have,” he said.
But Jeff Berman countered Terson, stating that the situations he described are civil matters between landlords and tenants.
“Are we going to get into the business of enforcing that [rental] contract?” he asked.
Andrew Stein expressed concern over whether village inspectors would be able to handle hundreds of rental property inspections in addition to their current responsibilities.
“Public safety, health and welfare is important, but we have to look at how we’re going to enforce it,” he said.
Beverly Sussman, who said the home next to her own was once in disrepair, said she supports the rental inspection proposal.
“It’s protecting everyone in the neighborhood, in case anything in there is unsafe,” she said.
Village Manager Dane Bragg said many details will be ironed out before the proposal is brought to the Village Board for a vote.
“There’s a lot of meat that needs to be put on the bone here before the board can say ‘yes’ or ‘no,’” Bragg said.