New housing ordinaces to go into effect next month

By Robert Baird

New housing ordinances are now being implemented in January for DeKalb residents, as DeKalb City Council approved the changes last month.

Rental property owners and tenants will now have to abide by various regulations and licensing requirements set forth in the new ordinances.

“The several ordinances passed will hold rental units accountable for their actions,” said 1st ward alderman David Jacobson, who is a landlord himself. “You used to be able to get an unlimited amount of—lets say—noise violations. Now, we’re implementing a three strike system that’s going to make tenants and landlords accountable for what they do.”

The ordinances’ intentions are to decrease criminal activity on rental properties, by increasing the penalties for illegal activities in and around rental properties in DeKalb, Jacobson said.

“This will help educate landlords on how to maintain their property,” Jacobson said. “By setting clear and obvious boundaries, they easily will know what’s acceptable and what’s not.”

Mayor Kris Povlsen and four alderman made the final decision by voting in favor of the new program and ordinances Nov. 26, which will have an annual budget starting at $284,000. $57,000 of the budget will be paid for by the city.

“If these ordinances are good for the entire city, they should be paid for by the entire city,” Jim Morel, President of DeKalb Area Rental Association (DARA), said in a Nov. 29 Daily Chronice article.

The additional $227,000 will come from additional annual rental properties fees created by the passed ordinances.

“They essentially hijacked the registration,” said Jim Mason, owner of Mason Properties. “It’s going to cost each tenant about $16 more during the first stage of it. They’re just trying to get into our pockets.”

The fees charged include $50 a building, and an additional $15.24 a rental unit for three or more units.

“My landlord probably won’t charge us more,” said DeKalb tenant Rachel Hutchings. “The fees seem too minimal to increase rental rates for tenants.”

In January, a program coordinator and office associate will be hired, who will be planning a three cycle crime free training program geared toward rental units. The program coordinator is in charge of designing different crime-free programs for landlords to attend.

Then between February and April, Cycle 1 (each cycle is about 3200 rental units) will be the first to receive training.

By May 1, those rental owners from Cycle 1 must register or apply for a license and pay fees due. They will also be hiring inspectors in May, who will be in charge of enforcing the new ordinances.

Between June and July, the “sidewalk” inspection program will begin, and Cycle 2 will begin its crime free training. Cycle 2 must register and pay fees due by September 1st.

Then, Cycle 3 will have its training October through December, and will be required to pay fees due and register by Jan. 1, 2014.

If a property is caught violating any of the new provisions three times or more within one year, their property may be internally searched, and the city can prevent them from renting in DeKalb.