Elgin Full of Ideas for Vacant Properties

by Chicago Agent

Elgin is attempting to cut costs in the vacant home inspection process.

The Elgin City Council will decide tomorrow whether to export vacant property code enforcement to B&F Technical Services, a local company based in Hoffman Estates, in an effort to cut costs.

Per a vacant home ordinance that was passed in 2010, various codes must be inspected in each vacant property, ostensibly to lessen the properties impact on surrounding home values.

“It’s important to keep these maintained so they don’t pull down the rest of the neighborhood,” said Rick Kozal, Elgin’s assistant city manager.

The problem, though, is the cost of those inspections. According to Community Development Director Marc Mylott, the two code enforcement officers who would be needed for the ordinance would cost the city more than $160,000 in wages and equipment.

By contrast, B&F would be paid $94 of the $200 annual registration fee for each vacant property, along with $235 of the one-time $500 inspection fee.

Not everyone sees benefits in the ordinance, though. Ron Ewing, the chairman for government affairs for the Realtor Association of Fox Valley, said some language in the ordinance could leave Realtors who oversee vacant properties holding the bill.

“If a real estate agent is a responsible party for a vacant property, all the fees and licensing issues go along with that,” Ewing said.

Ewing said he, along with the Illinois Association of Realtors, has been lobbying Elgin for changes to the ordinances.

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