City Council, DARA works toward agreement on landlord-tenant codes

By Joe Palmer

Big changes in how landlords and the city handle rental properties are in the works.

The DeKalb Area Rental Association (DARA) and DeKalb City Council have been entrenched in discussions regarding the future of landlord-tenant relations in the city.

The two groups have been meeting for over 25 months in hopes of reaching an agreement on updates to the city ordinances. Part of the proposed changes include adding “sidewalk inspectors” to help combat code violations. These inspections would allow for city officials to report any offense that can be seen from the sidewalks.

First Ward Alderman David Jacobson said the council wanted the opportunity to combat code offenses within rental properties.

“We want to give the city the tools it needs to fight chronic offenders and violators,” Jacobson said.

At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, 4th Ward Alderman Brendon Gallagher said code violations and offenses tend to take place at the same locations repetitively.

“Only 20 percent of occupied housing is where our problems are happening,” Gallagher said. “We need to focus on the places where these violations occur.”

The cost of these added official inspections could end up coming from funds raised through a proposed annual registration fee added to landlord rental fees.

DARA board member Brian Morsch said these fees added onto landlord costs could in turn effect rent prices in DeKalb.

“Rent will go up due to these fees,” Morsch said.

Although the two groups have been debating these changes for a couple years, DARA board member Jim Mason said the two were close to reaching some agreements.

“The city is in 95 percent agreement with DARA,” Mason said. “There are just a few major things that still need to be worked out.”

DeKalb Mayor Kris Povlsen said the city’s ordinances need updating to keep up with other communities.

“We are one of the last communities in the state that are following through with this,” Povlsen said.