Normally I dislike additional fees and government intervention, one community is taking an important step to help renters. It's time someone did.
No matter what the local real estate market is now showing, in terms of home prices and sales, the reality for many people is that they don't have the ability to qualify and/or don't choose to take the financial risks of buying.
However, renters have been faced with higher rents and tougher guidelines because so many consumers have been put into that situation. In what seems like the majority of instances, the local real estate community has not helped, fearing that helping making it smoother for renters means fewer people looking to buy. It remains to be seen whether or not those consumers remember that down the road if and when they start looking at buying.
Even worse, there have been scattered reports of crooked landlords doing things like renting out units and then walking away, leaving tenants to be victims of foreclosures on these landlords and being forced to move with little to no notice.
Buffalo Grove IL, a northern suburb of Chicago, has decided to take action. Landlords in the Village will be required, starting in January 2013, to pay an annual fee of $75 (for single family houses which are rented out) and, more importantly, to submit to annual inspections. For apartment buildings, the landlord will pay $150 per year plus $30 per rental unit.
A news article in the local Daily Herald newspaper about this contains a quote from a Village official admitting that they likely won't have time to inspect every available rental building. (I would include the link, but that newspaper goes by sign-ups and I won't link my readers to something that isn't guaranteed to come up, so blame the Daily Herald.)
The idea is for the Village to "license" its landlords, thus increasing or maintaining responsibility toward the tenants.
From where I sit, this looks like an excellent idea. Even the threat of an inspection by the Village and the added accountability should be a comfort to renters. If and as Buffalo Grove is the only community in the area to adopt this plan, it could be good for the local economy by encouraging renters to consider and to stay.
It's good to see this community looking at it in terms of "residents" rather than just home owners. Having solid and responsible landlords helps to assure that all property taxes are paid and regulations are met.
Hopefully more communities will explore and implement a similar program.
Places in Time III
1 day ago