The village of North Riverside moved last week to pressure the company that owns a rental home in the 2200 block of Northgate Avenue to remove the tenants after two serious police incidents at the home in the past 14 months.
On Feb. 21, the village issued a Notice of Condemnation against the house at 2250 Northgate Ave., stating the residence was “unlawful, unsafe and unfit for human occupancy” due to code violations discovered while police were investigating a Feb. 17 incident that resulted in four men being charged with burglary.
Deputy Police Chief Deborah Garcia said investigators obtained a search warrant to enter the home. Police at that time noted possible code violations, such as destroyed electric outlets and holes in the walls.
On Feb. 27, village officials met with representatives from the company that manages the property on behalf of its owner and did a walk-through of the house. Karyn Byrne, the code enforcement officer who conducted the inspection, said she confirmed the code violations.
The three tenants of the home have remained, despite the violations, which “technically make it unlawful to occupy.”
However, the village did not seek immediate removal of the tenants, seeking instead for the property management company to deal with them.
“The owners were very responsive,” Byrne said.
According to Byrne, however, the tenants have been found to be in violation of their lease and the property management company has asked them to vacate by March 1. If the tenants fail to comply, the company could seek their removal through court action.
The house at 2250 Northgate Ave. went into foreclosure in 2011 and became bank-owned a year later before the deed was transferred to a real estate investment firm in April 2013.
That firm did some renovations on the home before flipping it for $260,000 in September 2013 to SERC LLC, a corporation connected to Hyperion Homes of Chicago. Hyperion Homes later became known as Home Partners of America, whose rent-to-own business model is geared toward people who lack the money upfront to purchase a home via a traditional bank loan.
According to Byrne, Home Partners of America had a rent-to-own agreement in place with a tenant who is no longer living at the property. The rent-to-own leases are not transferable, said Byrne.
The Landmark emailed Home Partners of America for comment on the North Riverside home. The company acknowledged receipt of the email but did not respond with any further information prior to press time.
Incidents like the one in February were part of the rationale behind the North Riverside Village Board’s adoption last summer of a rental home registry. The registry seeks to track how many people are living in a particular rental home and requires information on each tenant and their vehicles. The law also allows the village to inspect homes whenever there’s a change in occupancy.
None of the tenants of the home was charged with a crime in the Feb. 17 incident, but police have responded to the address on multiple occasions in the past year or so. The first time was on Jan. 1, 2016 when two men were charged with firing handguns into the air to celebrate the New Year.
Police since that time have responded to the address to boot vehicles and to investigate reports of suspicious vehicles.
But the incident on the morning of Feb. 17 apparently was the last straw for village officials. Police from several different agencies descended on the block after someone called to report a possible home invasion.
Officers ended up arresting four men and recovered four handguns as well as a rental van that the alleged offenders drove to the house and parked in the alley. Garcia said at the time that the men targeted the North Riverside home because they believed they would find cash and drugs there.
The investigation into the Feb. 17 incident is being handled by the west suburban Major Case Assistance Team (MCAT), Garcia said.
The four men charged with burglary remain in Cook County Jail, awaiting a March 13 hearing at the Maybrook courthouse.