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Chicago Heights Rental Inspection Requirements December 2016-2017

Updated on April 5, 2017

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Introduction

Renting out your home in the city of Chicago Heights,IL is quite an annoying experience mostly due to the new Crime Free Housing laws they passed and the property inspection. Crime free housing sounds like a good idea, but really its just a headache for the landlord and tenant. I'm sure it works fantastic for slum lords and drug addicts. But neither I, nor my tenants, are either of these things.

Read on for a full understanding of the Crime Free Housing laws as well as the absurd city requirements for making your house "rental worthy".

Crime Free Housing

All landlords who want to rent property in the City of Chicago Heights must take a 6 hour class taught by the local police department. There are 3 ways to schedule the class.

1) Contact Officer Woodrow Stacey at 708-756-6333

2) Email him at wstacey@chicagoheights.net

  • Name
  • Class date (class dates arent published so you may as well call/email for that)

  • Mailing address

  • Property address(es) and phone number

3) Just show up and hope the class isn't full

Bring your ID to class as for some unknown/unexplained reason, this is a requirement.

After taking this class, you can get your Residental Rental Operating License. Basically, you pay them money and they give you a slip of paper.

The entire purpose of the Crime Free Housing is so they can instantly evict tenants without going through the courts. And its all on the landlords time and dime.

Here is the breakdown of fees for your so called Residential Rental Operating License:

One unit or SFR: $75

Two unit with owner occupying one unit: $50

7-11 Units: $225

12-19 Units: $300

20-50 Units: $400

51 units or more: $500

(plus $2 for each unit over 50)

Click here for the application for the license.


Inspection

The Crime Free Housing requirement is not nearly as bad as the inspection process. First and foremost, that's another $100. Click here to download that form. Also, every time you have a new tenant, you get to pay this fee again and go through the inspection process all over again.

Go to the code enforcement office (1601 Chicago Road Chicago Heights,IL) or call (708-756-5328) to schedule your inspection.

My husband and I worked on what we thought would be required of the inspection for 3 weeks prior. He relabeled the electrical box (they didn't even look), put a railing on the front steps (didn't notice). Basically anything that we thought would be required wasn't even a concern and that's because the most mundane items were a concern. Here is a sample of some of the ridiculousness:

  • Chimney needs to be scraped and painted

Our chimney was chipping paint. Maybe they thought our tenants were going to sneak up there and eat our paint chips? That would be called cleaning out the gene pool.

  • Floor covering needs to be replaced

We had laminate flooring where liquid seeped into the crack of one of the seams. This cased a plank to buckle on about 30% of ONE PLANK! My husband had to pull out planks all the way to wall to replace that one. Survival Tip: Any parts of your floor that are questionable, throw a rug over it before inspector gets there.

  • Smoke Detectors

If you stand in our hallway, you can physically touch all 3 bedroom doors. This means all rooms are within a few feet of each other. A smoke detector that is within a few feet of all bedrooms in not acceptable. It needs to be in each bedroom and the hallway. Don't forget a carbon monoxide detector. Survival tip: Because you need so many darn smoke detectors, buy at least one smoke detector & carbon monoxide 2 pack combo. This was the cheapest way to go.

  • Furnance/Water heater inspection

Even though there was nothing wrong with our furnace or water heater, we were required to get another inspection done by a different company. Another $100 for nothing. Thanks Chicago Heights! I don't see why we needed to do this as we would be the ones responsible to fix the furnace and water heater if it did break anyway.

  • Asphalt/Concrete Driveway required

When my husband bought the home, it had no garage but it did have an asphalt driveway. He built a 2 car garage about 10 feet from where the driveway ends and filled in the gap with gravel. Not allowed. We had to pull a permit (more money for the Heights for nothing!). It cost us about $1,500 to put in about 350 square feet of asphalt.


  • Closet door

In the master bedroom we had 2 closets with no doors but they looked nice (see picture below). Nope. Not allowed. We were forced to add closet doors which ended up looking ghetto...but hey, this IS Chicago Heights after all.

Closet with no doors

Doors required per inspection
Doors required per inspection

Other crap you won't believe!

  • After you've already paid all this money to the city for nothing, if you want to put a "For Rent" sign in your yard, you need a permit. Why do you need a permit? Because the city gets even MORE money for nothing!!!
  • After you finally get a tenant, did you want to work on any of the repairs in the home YOU STILL OWN? Ha! Not unless you become a licensed contractor with the City of Chicago Heights. Why would you need to do this? It's required by the city and yes, more money.
  • The landlord is responsible for the water bill. You can tell your tenant he is responsible for the bill and have the bill sent to him. Should he choose not to pay, YOU are responsible. The city suggests that you have a duplicate bill sent to you to make sure tenant is actually paying. I recommend this as you are ultimately the one responsible. But even with a duplicate bill, there is not much that can be done. The city will not turn off the water with a tenant living in it.
  • It's not written anywhere official, but the city is very pro tenant. If you want to evict someone, be prepared to pay and wait. You will file your paperwork with court (more money), serve the guy, wait the 30 days just for him to show up and say he needs more time. This is almost always granted. And if it's wintertime, forget about an eviction.

Chicago Heights is Anti-Rental

With all the insane property requirements and fees involved, it is clear that the city of Chicago Heights is Anti-Rental. This does not make sense for a city that is going downhill with foreclosures. We had to rent out our property because it was underwater when all the foreclosures around us were being auctioned off under $20,000. So unless you are going to walk from the property, you had to rent. There were many times throughout the process that my husband and I almost decided walking was a better option. But we stuck through it and paid out the nose.

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