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Article updated: 10/30/2013 12:34 PM

Batavia considers expanding rental-housing monitoring program

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Batavia plans to make its test Crime-Free Rental Housing Program a permanent thing.

It is also going to rename the effort, and add inspections of properties to it.

Aldermen recommended the changes 13-0 at Tuesday's committee-of-the-whole meeting, with Alderman Dan Chanzit absent.

The council will vote on the changes Monday night. The proposal can be viewed on the city's website, cityofbatavia.net.

The program has been tested since September 2011. It has focused on reducing calls for service, including police, at the town's larger apartment complexes. Landlords of buildings of 10 or more units had to get licenses and undergo training on screening and dealing with tenants, and on using leases that allowed eviction if criminal activity took place on the properties.

The program will now be called "The City of Batavia Rental Housing Licensing Program." Owners of buildings of six or more units will have to get a license. To get the license, they or the building managers will have to undergo landlord training with the police department, and pass an inspection of the property. The inspection would include the exteriors, plus interior common areas such as hallways and laundry rooms. It does not, however, allow city inspections inside individual units.

Landlords would pay an annual fee of $100 to $400, depending on the size of the building.

Police Chief Gary Schira said he would love to expand the program to all rentals in the city, including single-family housing.

"We have just as many problems with single-family rentals as we do with big apartment complexes," he said.

But, he said, he doesn't have enough workers to expand the program to single-family rentals.

Fourth Ward Alderman Susan Stark, who has owned single-family rental houses in Elgin, supports the program. Elgin does interior inspections, she said, looking for hazards such as improper wiring and inoperative or missing smoke detectors.

"Otherwise you end up with slumlords, and I think we have several of those in town," she said.

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