Friday, January 14, 2011

Illinois Code Enforcement Attorney's Blog Notes Twilight Zoning in Bellingham

Linda Pieczynski is an attorney and municipal prosecutor in Hinsdale, Illinois where she writes a blog on code enforcement. Not surprisingly, Linda supports rental inspections. She collects examples of rental property code enforcement issues and places them in her writing. Several days ago, she noted the Zonemaven in her blog entry entitled College Towns and Fire Code Violations. You can read that blog entry by clicking here.

She states in the header to her blog: "I regularly blog about issues that arise in code enforcement and invite comments and ideas from you. I use examples from around the world to illustrate the issues inspectors face on a daily basis."Here is a sample of her comments on inspections of rental housing.

"College towns and code violations go together like students and text books. Students seek cheap housing and are willing to live in terrible conditions if the price is right. Some landlords take advantage of this by not maintaining their buildings and others are fearful of the damage student tenants cause and are reluctant to spend money on upkeep because of that. "

"If a local jurisdiction doesn’t have an effective enforcement system, whether it’s in court or at an administrative level, there will be no incentive for bad landlords to fix up their properties.

"The day after the fire [Yonkers, NY], city inspectors visited the property and issued four summonses against the [owners] for illegally converting their basement into an apartment, illegally using the first floor of their two-family home as a boarding house and blocking fire exits, among other violations."

"...without vigorous code enforcement, buildings deteriorate and people suffer. To think that a family would be better off in a shelter than in one of these buildings is tragic. Housing inspectors who make life better for people who are tenants should be proud of the work they do."

"In a recent post, I discussed the foolishness of owners who don’t fix their rental property and end up facing civil liability judgments that could have been avoided if they had just followed the fire code. The family of a victim of a porch collapse just reached a settlement for $2.7 million dollars in Chicago. The victim was trying to adjust a chair on the porch when he fell through the rails. "

"A landlord in Ontario, Canada recently pleaded guilty to fire code violations in connection with a fire that occurred in an apartment building. What caught my attention in the article that discussed the case was a statement that landlords can be held liable if any occupant is injured in a fire because the building is not compliant with the fire code. This is true in the United States, as well. Owners run a risk when they do not fix code violations because if someone is injured or killed, there is very good chance the owner will get sued for negligence. "

" Once landlords become used to a rental inspection ordinance, they tend to do a better job of making minor repairs so large ones don’t become necessary."

"A rental inspection ordinance that involves licensing landlords is a very effective tool in keeping property from falling into disrepair or worse. ...While many landlords oppose it at the beginning, successful ones eventually are won over as they see that negligent landlords have to raise their rents because they have to spend money on repairs. This takes away a competitive edge that they have had since they didn’t spend money on normal maintenance.'

I invite my readers to go to Linda's blog where they can find more nuggets of wisdom on rental licensing and inspection.

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