Streator resident makes suggestions for rental program

Landlord said city’s inspections are an invasion of privacy

A Streator resident and landlord offered three suggestions to the city’s rental inspection program for the City Council’s consideration.

Becky Coons, who lives on Dalton Street and rents a one-bedroom house adjacent to her home, told the council Tuesday she believes the city’s ordinance is an invasion of privacy.

She would like landlords to have the option to hire their own private certified home inspector to ensure the property is up to the program’s standards, she offered the option of a virtual inspection by online video and she suggested the ordinance be changed to require inspections only for landlords who own three or more properties.

The program requires landlords to register rental units with the city at least every three years. Registered properties are inspected using a two-page checklist made available to landlords on a point-based system to determine if they are hazardous and need re-inspection.

“The landlords who only own one property are the ones doing their best,” Coons said, noting landlords with who own one property are not in it to make a profit, typically purchasing the property next door to improve their neighborhood or renting out an inherited property.

Coons also added the city should offer a 0% loan program for landlords who need to make upgrades.

Mayor Jimmie Lansford said the city is looking at setting up a program for neighborhood improvements similar to the city’s facade grant program that has led to more than $800,000 in investment to upgrading downtown storefronts.

Council member Joe Scarbeary asked why a private home inspector is preferred to the city’s building inspector, and Coons said a local inspector can see a lot of things in someone’s house and then could share it with the community. An out-of-town inspector is more likely to maintain the anonymity of the situation.

Scarbeary said he liked the idea of the virtual inspections, because it can save the building inspector’s time.

City Engineer Jeremy Palm said the City Council will discuss the proposals at an upcoming Committee of the Whole meeting.

Derek Barichello

Derek is a Streator High and University of Illinois graduate. He worked at the Albany-Herald in Albany, Ga., and for Sauk Valley Media in Sterling, before returning to his hometown paper. He's now news editor for both the NewsTribune and The Times.