MERRILLVILLE | Landlords have started to register their residential rental units in town and pay the annual $100 registration fee for each unit.
Zoning Director Dorinda Gregor said Merrillville has collected about $40,000 so far from registration fees.
Gregor said the town is sending 800 more bills to Merrillville landlords. Most of the upcoming bills will be sent to landlords renting single-family homes and duplexes, she said.
Landlords could face a penalty if they don't register units and pay the fee by the Oct. 31 deadline, Gregor said.
The Town Council adopted an ordinance in July requiring the rental registration and annual fee. The ordinance also establishes procedure for the town to inspect rental units if Merrillville receives complaints about them.
Funds collected through the fee will administer the ordinance and benefit public safety, Town Administrator Howard Fink said.
Apartment management companies and two councilmen have opposed the measure.
Opponents believe the fee could result in apartment tenants moving out of town if the new charge causes rent increases.
Some town leaders said the ordinance is needed to ensure living conditions are satisfactory at rental properties. They said the measure also is important because it will generate funding for the Police Department.
Fink said Merrillville is finalizing software which will keep records of registration permits issued and rental complaints the town receives.
"That will help out tremendously," Gregor said of the software.