Officials in Calumet City and Lansing are considering changes to their four-year-old programs requiring landlords to purchase city licenses for their rental properties in the south suburbs.
Both municipalities approved their “crime free” ordinances in 2008, in which landlords are charged an annual fee on their properties. Money is used to pay for inspections by the police departments to look for signs of criminal activity, and landlords are required to take a course on how to look for signs of potential crime on their properties.
In both municipalities, tenants can be evicted if they are arrested and it can be shown the apartment was being used for the crime.
Calumet City Mayor Michelle Markiewicz Qualkinbush said that was always the key issue for the Crime Free Residential Rental License ordinance in her city.
“It was always about trying to get those less desirable people to leave Calumet City,” she said.
In Calumet City, landlords are charged on a sliding scale between $50 and $1,500 – depending on how many residential units were within a particular building.
Qualkinbush said the City Council is studying the issue because many landlords are complaining about the fees. The rate scale could be changed sometime this year.
In Lansing, village President Norm Abbott said the fees charged by his municipality -- $100 annually for a building up to 24 units, with $200 for a building with 25 or more units with a $25 late fee if not purchased by Jan. 31 – also are being reviewed, and that changes could be made sometime in March or April.
One aspect of the program is police do annual inspections of apartment buildings. Qualkinbush said she’d like to see more officers assigned to such duty in Calumet City. Abbott said he’s not sure inspections need to take place every year in Lansing.
But both said the fees being charged are meant merely to cover the cost of the inspections.
“We’re not making a profit,” Qualkinbush said. “These inspections aren’t about making money.”
Qualkinbush said she believes it has been “a good tool” for Calumet City police and landlords to have, although she could not say how many tenants may have actually been evicted due to the ordinance.
Calumet City and Lansing are not the only south suburbs to have such measures. In Calumet City, officials formed their ordinance from a similar measure in Chicago Heights, where landlords are charged a fee of $500, plus $2 per unit in their buildings.