The city’s new rental inspection program is in place.
The Joliet City Council last week approved the revised program that increases inspection fees but also provides incentives for landlords with good track records, allowing them to qualify for fewer inspections.
The program was a compromise between neighborhood advocates, who pushed for stricter regulations on rental housing, and Realtors and landlords, who resisted attempts to put single-family homes in the regular inspection program.
Under the new program as previously, single-family homes are put into the inspection program only after problems develop at a property.
Councilwoman Jan Quillman described the revised program as “just a Band-Aid.”
“We still want to pursue single-family rentals,” she said at the council meeting when the program revisions were approved.
Quillman said the city has a problem with absentee landlords.
However, not everyone on the council has been pushing to put single-family rentals into the inspection program.
The biggest problem, city staff has said, is the sheer number of rental properties that would be added to the program.
Interim City Manager Marty Shanahan said 5,000 properties would be added to the inspection program if single-family rentals were included.
“Our inspection program would be overwhelmed,” Shanahan said. “That’s why we’re doing this as a step-by-step process.”
Quillman is advocating for more inspectors.
The new fees will bring in more revenue, but city officials said they will cover only half the costs of the program. The previous fee structure paid for about 30 percent of the program.
The new program creates a six-tier system in which rental properties are placed in different inspection schedules based on building conditions.
Buildings with a history of no violations or few minor code violations are scheduled for full inspections every six years.
Other properties can be subject to reinspection in as soon as six months if landlords are lax in fixing code violations.
“To reinforce the concept of compliance, the reinspection fees have been raised substantially for each subsequent reinspection required for noncompliance,” a staff memo on the program states.