Beginning in January, owners of rental property in Buffalo Grove will have to register with the village, pay an annual fee and submit to yearly inspections.
The village board this week approved the new Rental Housing Program, which aims to ensure that all rental units comply with the village's minimum housing standards, preserve property values, protect the character and stability of residential areas and correct or prevent housing conditions that threaten the life, safety and welfare of tenants.
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"Whether they are buying a home, building a home or renting a home, I think everybody should have a safe place to live," Trustee Michael Terson said.
Deputy Building Commissioner Carol Berman said that because of the nature of the current housing market, with foreclosures and short sales more common, Buffalo Grove is seeing a rise in rental property. According to the 2010 census, there are 2,824 rental units in the village. As of Sept. 25, the village knew of 187 properties classified as "vacant or pending eviction."
Only one trustee, Andrew Stein, voted against the measure, although board members -- and Village President Jeffrey Braiman -- expressed reservations.
Braiman praised the staff for drafting the program, calling it a "well thought-out document." But he believes the village should not be getting involved in such a program.
"One is, and maybe I'm showing my age a little bit and getting a little bit more conservative, but I think is somewhat of an intrusion on people's privacy," he said.
He added that is creates a distinction between classes of ownership -- owner-occupied versus nonowner-occupied -- where one doesn't belong.
"I guess the next step would be to go and inspect every property every year, and that's impossible and I don't want to do that either," Braiman said. "But there are certain privacy rights I think that we are intruding upon, and maybe government shouldn't be going into that."
Stein said he supports the idea of licensing rentals but does not believe the village staff can take on the additional work of inspecting every rental unit annually.
The yearly fee for a single-family home rental unit -- including condominiums, townhouses, duplexes and row homes -- is $75. The fee for apartment complexes is $150 per building plus $30 per dwelling unit.
Berman said program's ultimate goal is not to punish landlords who fail to meet village standards, but to bring them into compliance.