Starting early next year, the owners of single-family homes in Hoffman Estates that are rented out will likely have to pay a $150 annual license fee and have their property inspected by the village.
During a planning, building and zoning committee meeting Monday, members of the village board reviewed the proposal for a new rental property registration and inspection program for homes and condominiums.
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Pete Gugliotta, director of planning, said the licensing and inspection of rental properties is becoming a normal expectation in the area both for people looking to rent units and for tenants.
"A lot of the tenants call for various reasons, if their owners are not keeping up properties well," he said, adding that, on the other hand, there are also calls that come in from potential owners who ask if the village has a rental program.
"They're coming in, they're looking to buy a home (to rent) and they expect well, maybe there's a license program, and they call to check," Gugliotta added.
The inspections will cover the interior and exterior of the rental units, checking for items such as smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, secure doors, operational plumbing, rodent or insect infestations, visible address numbers and maintained grass.
Trustee Gary Pilafas noted that in the last two months, four rented homes in his neighborhood have gone up for sale. He said he asked the people renting the homes why they thought the residences were put up for sale and they mentioned it was because the owners heard the village was thinking about requiring inspections and a license.
"It's driving the right behavior already, just given that we're talking about it, from my perspective," Pilafas said.
Trustee Michael Gaeta asked how the staff plans to implement the program and find out which properties are rentals. Gugliotta said the village has started to pinpoint the rental units by reviewing utility billing records.
The village estimates there are about 1,900 single-family rental homes in the village and about 350 condominiums. The proposed fee for condominium units is $75 annually because they are typically smaller than single-family attached or detached units, which would be charged the $150 fee. Fees in surrounding communities range from $75 in Buffalo Grove to $225 in West Chicago.
One full-time inspector, one part-time inspector and one part-time administrative staff person dedicated to the inspections and processing of licenses have been factored into the 2014 proposed budget, which the board is reviewing Friday. It is possible, however, that more staff will eventually be needed to get the program in place.
"Every inspection we do that first year is going to be a first time inspection, which will require a little more time and education with the owners," Gugliotta said.
Village officials said it will likely take two full years until the program is fully implemented, considering immediate voluntary compliance is not expected from everyone and because the license is intended to be issued each year on Jan. 1.
"A vast majority will be good and want to take care of properties," Gugliotta said. "The problem properties that we've known about for years I'm sure will continue to be problems. Those are the ones that are definitely going to take time."
A formal ordinance adding the license and inspection requirements to the municipal code is expected to be presented to the board for approval in December.