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Village Considers Rental Property Inspections

Staff members have proposed a plan that would require owners to register rental homes and pay for regular safety inspections.

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.

Abigail September 20, 2011 at 02:06 PM
I think they should also consider an ordinance regarding the number of people allowed per unit, if there isn't already an ordinance for this. We don't want 10 people living in a 2-bedroom unit. And, no, this is not racist--this is a health issue.
Alan Danenberg September 20, 2011 at 10:01 PM
Regardless of whether a property is owner-occupied, rented out, or bank-owned, it is critical to ALL of our property values to ensure that homes are kept in good repair, yards are maintained, etc. It becomes pretty obvious when an owner is in trouble, or renting out. All you have to do is drive by. Since new construction is at a standstill, and remodeling slowed to a crawl, I would think that the inspectors have time to look at our neighborhoods and flag those that need to be worked on. Don't let the banks ignore the properties they foreclosed on, make them pay for upkeep until they sell. It might encourage them to work with the owner a bit more to keep from foreclosing if they know they will still have some responsibilities to the community. This new ordinance review will also need to consider - how will the village staff even know when a house is rented out?
randall richardson September 21, 2011 at 02:09 PM
We all have neighbors who live in their homes and don't take care of them. Where does it stop. Too much government!
sarah September 22, 2011 at 02:28 AM
What a crock! What exactly are they going to inspect? How do they make up the standards? It's just an unimaginative bogus way to increase revenues because they cannot come up with really good ideas. And perhaps another way to hire one of their relatives, donors or business partners. And who will really be assessed this fee? Why the renters of course. The landlords will just pass along the fees. I am a long-time renter in BG, don't tell me I need this for protection here. Tell me, what other community finds it necessary to barge into renters' homes for bogus inspections? And home inspections are not the answer to multiple residents in one dwelling; that's just silly.
Stuart Tindall September 22, 2011 at 05:16 AM
Pretty much every community with a college has rental inspections for one.
Alan Danenberg September 22, 2011 at 02:45 PM
Sarah - if you read the article, you'd have seen that Wheeling, Palatine, Schaumburg and Mount Prospect already have such inspections (and fees). The article also detailed the SAFETY measures that they would inspect! With the increase of rental of single-family homes in this economy, many communities have recognized the changes in the market. I have a relative who owns an investment property in Wheeling, along with dozens of multi-family rental buildings in Chicago, and was just informed about Wheeling's mandatory inspection and $50 fee. He isn't bothered by it a bit - its simply a cost of doing business in residential rentals.

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