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Local News

Joliet rental inspection revamp clears committee hurdle

An overhaul of the city’s rental inspection program characterized as “middle ground” between landlords and neighborhood groups advanced Thursday despite some concerns raised at a city council committee meeting.

The new program does not add single-family home rentals to the regular inspection program, which Councilwoman Jan Quillman at one point in the meeting said was “the whole point of this.”

Quillman, however, joined other members of the Land Use and Legislative Committee in voting, 3-0, to recommend the program to the full council for approval on the condition that it be reviewed again in a year.

Neighborhood leaders, who prompted the latest review of the rental inspection program nearly a year ago over the issue of single-family rentals, did not object to the revamped program.

Quinn Adamowski, president of the Cathedral Area Preservation Association, said the single-family rental issue “is always a sticking point in these discussions” but told the committee the new program will begin dealing with problems at apartments.

The program does raise inspection fees on problem properties while allowing landlords with good records to go longer periods between inspections.

The new fee structure is designed to incentivize landlords by allowing them to save money on inspection fees by keeping their property out of trouble, said Jeff Sterr, the city’s neighborhood services director. Problem landlords face more frequent inspections, thus paying fees more often. Repeat inspection fees also are going up.

“It’s a fair middle ground to start with,” Sterr said.

The big obstacle to adding single-family rentals to the regular inspection program is that there are too many of them for the inspection staff that the city has now, Sterr said.

Joliet has roughly 5,000 single-family rental homes, which would be added to the 1,800 multi-family buildings the city inspects now, he said.

But single-family homes are added to the inspection program when problems are found. Sterr said there are 210 single-family homes on the inspection list now.

Out of the 4,100 complaints received on rental property in 2018, only about 200 involved single-family homes, he said.

“We’re not getting the number of complaints that some segments of the community think we have,” Sterr said.

The new inspection program could go in effect in June. Sterr said he expects to bring it to the full city council for a vote at its May 14 meeting.

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