Joliet is taking another look at putting single-family rental houses into the city inspection program.
Complaints about problem rentals have prompted city officials to propose single-family home inspections in the past. But the proposals has been shelved amid opposition from the real estate business community.
Representatives from the Cathedral Area Preservation Association and several residents were at the Thursday meeting of the Joliet City Council Land Use and Legislative Committee, which discussed single-family rental inspections but did not have a proposal to consider.
Christopher Wilhelmi spoke of homes in his neighborhood with “gutters down” and other problems.
“You can tell when a single-family house is being rented,” Wilhelmi told the committee.
He said the houses often have out-of-town landlords. Three houses in his neighborhood are rented by landlords who live in Iowa, Braidwood and Wilmington, Wilhelmi said.
Wilhelmi pointed to the death of Sema’j Crosby, the 1-year-old girl whose body was found under a sofa in a Joliet Township rental house that later was declared uninhabitable because of unsanitary conditions and then burned in a fire, as an example of problems that can occur with single-family rental housing.
The city has a program for regular inspections of rental apartments. But single-family houses are not included in the program.
Council member Jan Quillman, a member of the Land Use and Legislative Committee, called the city’s ongoing consideration of inspection of rental housing “a six-year work in progress” and said it was time to take action.
“I’m calling for single-family rental inspection,” Quillman said.
City attorney Marty Shanahan said he had the matter put on the agenda so he could publicly announce that he will be preparing a proposal for single-family home inspections.
“I’m sure there are some points of contention,” Shanahan said.
City officials noted that Joliet has other ordinances that can be used to take action when property is not maintained.