North Riverside Village Commons, 2401 Desplaines Ave. | File 2021

North Riverside trustees are expected, as early as later this month, to consider passing an ordinance that would require the owners of all rental properties to register annually with the village and submit their buildings to annual inspections to ensure they comply with village codes.

“This is a way for the village to track where the multifamily or rental properties are in the municipality, to ensure they’re code-compliant,” said Village Attorney Kevin Kearney during a discussion of the subject at the village board’s administrative committee meeting on Oct. 25. 

“Inspections on an ad hoc basis are tough, especially just getting into properties,” Kearney added. “When you have this system in place, landlords know they’re going to have to let these properties be inspected on an annual basis.”

If adopted, the program would be similar to a rental registry program approved by the Riverside Village Board this summer, but would include all rental properties and impose tighter inspection requirements by making them annual. 

In Riverside, rental buildings of three or more units are included in the registry – not single-family homes or two-flats – and properties in the program are on a three-year inspection cycle, with additional allowances given to landlords whose buildings have no history of complaints or code violations.

The Riverside law ended up taking five months to finalize after several multifamily building owners pushed back on the initial language of the ordinance, successfully arguing that it was onerous and unfair to those who faithfully maintained their properties.

As described by North Riverside Village Administrator Sue Scarpiniti on Oct. 25, that municipality’s registry would include all rental properties, whose owners would pay an annual registration fee and open their properties to village inspectors every year.

This is not the first time North Riverside officials have attempted to get their arms around inspecting rental properties.

In July 2016, the village board passed a single-family rental registry ordinance that required property owners to pay a $50 registration fee and re-register when tenants changed. It also asked for property owner contact information as well as tenant information, and required inspection when tenants turned over.

Finally, it limited occupancy to two people per bedroom. The village, according to Scarpiniti, also prohibits bedrooms from being located in basements.

“It was a way for the village to make sure there were no code violations,” Scarpiniti said. “We don’t have anything that addresses multifamily properties or any other types of properties like two-flats.”

The single-family home rental registry is not foolproof, however. Scarpiniti said in the wake of the 2016 registry law, the village opted not to collect the names/contact information for owners of single-family rentals. 

Instead, Scarpiniti told the Landmark, “The village coordinates with the Water Department when a new renter of a single-family home comes in to change the account into their name and requires a rental inspection be conducted at that time by our code enforcement inspector.”

Those water bill requests also appear to be how the village finds out some homes are being rented out. The numbers of rented single-family homes has grown since the village instituted the registry in 2016.

At that time, it was estimated that there were 85 rental homes in North Riverside. On Oct. 25, Scarpiniti said there are now more than 100.

North Riverside looks to restrict short-term rentals

After fielding a couple of complaints about bedrooms in a local home being advertised as short-term rentals on Airbnb, the village of North Riverside is moving to restrict where those rentals can be located.

The North Riverside Planning and Zoning Commission is expected to consider the matter in the near future, and Scarpiniti said her recommendation would be to prohibit short-term rentals in the village’s single-family residential districts and allow them in other districts as a special use.

If the village follows through on that recommendation, the new law would be similar to the one in Riverside, where elected officials voted to outlaw short-term rentals in residential districts after a large home being marketed as a rental for events such as weddings and corporate events drew howls from neighbors.

Riverside still allows short-term rentals (of up to 30 days) in commercial districts, but owners of short-term rentals must apply for a special use permit, which triggers a public hearing. If approved those rentals must be licensed annually. The initial license costs $500 with annual renewals at $250. Owners must also provide the village a certificate of insurance.

Placing restrictions on short-term rentals in North Riverside will require an amendment to the zoning code, which triggers a public hearing before the village’s Planning and Zoning Commission.

Any recommendation from that commission will be passed along to the village board for final approval.

Bob Uphues