The “Crime Free” Housing initiative originated in Tempe, Arizona, and traveled to other states including Illinois. Crime Free Housing ordinances continue to grow in popularity among local officials in Illinois. The idea behind these proposals is to regulate landlords and rental housing in regard to crime prevention on the property. Requirements such as landlord licensure and building registration are being imposed by several home rule municipalities in Illinois, but non home-rule units cannot impose such requirements. IAR local Government Affairs Directors have objected to many features of these proposals, including the attempts to regulate those who already have a real estate license. The most common provisions of these proposals include:
- Licensure of Landlord or Property Owner
- Registration Fee for Rental Property
- Crime Free Housing Seminar hosted by Local Police Department
- Inspections and Occupancy Certificates
- Eviction Requirements
Many communities require property owners or managers to obtain a license from the municipality before they are allowed to rent property within the community. Oftentimes, the property owner or manager is required to live “locally,” or else they may be required to name a “local agent” to serve as the responsible party of the property in case of an emergency or a reported crime on the property.
Depending on how the ordinance is drafted, there may be a conflict with the Illinois Real Estate License Law. A municipality cannot prevent a real estate licensee from performing “licensed activities” as spelled out in the state license law. But some towns have attempted to do just that with their own license ordinance. If you have any questions about this type of provision in a local ordinance, contact your local Government Affairs Director.
Property Registration Fees
Registration fees are most often set at around $50.00 per unit, per year in order to fund the local Crime Fee Housing program and other operations related to regulation of rental units. This can become quite costly for large companies who manage large numbers or units.
Crime Fee Housing Seminar
Property Managers or owners are also required to complete a Crime Fee Housing seminar, hosted by the local police department prior to renting property. These seminars provide property managers with tips on tenant screening and other ways in which crime can be decreased on their properties. The Crime Free Housing Seminar is typically a 6 to 8 hour class.
Inspections and Occupancy Permits
Exterior and interior inspections of property may also be required. Local building officials often suggest exterior changes that could help to decrease crime on property including trimming bushes or adding exterior lighting. Interior inspections may be required to determine habitability of the unit. Once a unit has passed inspection, Occupancy permits may also be required. Most of these property maintenance requirements have existed in several municipalities in Illinois long before the more recent emphasis on crime prevention.
Several municipalities require the use of a “crime-free” addendum to leases. If one of the tenants commits a crime on the property, the lease is voided and the tenant may be evicted.