The Joliet City Council on Tuesday — in a meeting highlighted with a video of rodents running wild in a house — added single-family homes to the city inspection program, an action under debate off and on since 1979.
City Manager James Capparelli urged approval after showing a video of what he said were rats in a rental unit in Joliet. The video showed dozens of rats scurrying around the residence.
“You’ll see some rats eating another dead rat,” Capparelli said at one point as the video played on. “This is the kind of disgusting thing that shows how some landlords feel about Joliet.”
The council voted 6-1 for the ordinance that adds single-family homes to the inspection program after hearing from nearly a dozen people speaking for and against it.
“At this particular time, I don’t need the government in my home,” said Yulandia Knight, who said she rents a single-family home.
Council member, Larry Hug, was the lone no vote, saying he has heard from renters in his district who are against it. Sherri Reardon recused herself from the vote, saying she owns a single-family home that she rents out.
Single-family homes go into the city’s rental inspection program now, but only once they are reported as problem properties.
Neighborhood advocates argued that single-family homes should automatically go into the program. They said tenants are too leery of reporting on their landlords to the city.
“Some landlords do not want to invest in their property,” said Quinn Adamowski, who is among several neighborhood leaders who have urged adding single-family homes to the program. “The city needs to step up and create a uniform policy to ensure that they do.”
Landlords and real estate agents have pushed back against the program, saying its unneeded regulation and adds another expense to doing business that will be passed on to renters.
Landlords will pay an annual $100 fee as they register single-family homes for the inspection program, the same fee paid by landlords for multi-family rentals. But one landlord said they will incur additional fees and costs as they go through inspections.
Proposals to put single-family rentals into the city inspection program have been debated at council committees off and on for decades.
Kathy Spieler, who is a member of the Reedwood Neighborhood Association, said her mother, Bernie Spieler, pushed for it in 1979 when she was president of the St. Pat’s Neighborhood Association.