The Chicago Ridge Village Board at the Tuesday meeting voted to amend the section of the village code pertaining to rental properties to add inspection fees for the first time, among other things.
The idea of requiring annual inspections of rental properties had been discussed at recent meetings, so it was passed without too much discussion. Starting in January, owners of rental properties will now be required to pay $200 for annual inspections of houses being rented, and $75 for condos or apartments.
Mayor Chuck Tokar noted afterward the amendment that was passed also removes the language that had assessed fines to owners of properties for excessive 911 calls.
“We had to change that, because we don’t want to discourage people from calling 911. It could be a case of domestic violence, and if police need to be called daily so be it. That is what they are there for,” he said.
Tokar said he and the trustees agreed that requiring that rental properties be inspected is needed for health and safety reasons. The fees will go toward paying for a part-time inspector, who will have to be hired.
“We want to make sure that the properties being rented meet the fire code, and are in livable condition. We need to look at them, and ensure that the houses and apartments are not being subdivided and rented to multiple families or anything like that. If there are mattresses all over the floor, we will know something is wrong,” he said.
“Most landlords are very good, but some aren’t. We’ve seen houses being rented with windows covered in cardboard or wood, and we can’t have that. We want Chicago Ridge to be a respectable community.”
Prior to voting on the amendment to the village, Trustee Jack Lind said he would like it to also include penalties for leaving pets unattended for long periods of time.
He and Tokar explained that they have received reports of dogs being left on balconies all day and even overnight in some cases.
“I want to put some teeth in this ordinance to prevent that from happening,” Tokar said.
At Tokar’s suggestion, the board agreed to approve the ordinance as-is, and then amend it in the near future because it was important to get other changes enacted immediately.
Trustee Amanda Cardin pointed out that a newly enacted state law that will go into effect on Jan. 1 will make leaving pets outside in extreme weather a Class A misdemeanor if the animal is injured or dies. Pet owners could pay a $2,500 fine, or face up to one year in jail if found guilty.
Acting Village Attorney Burt Odelson said that the language in the state law could be incorporated into the new village ordinance as well.