Rockford now requires landlords to register into a city-run database in exchange for awareness about criminal activity on their properties. Those who support this law say the Residential Quality Support Ordinance helps responsible landlords, exposes negligent ones and protects good tenants.
It passed 10-3 at Monday night's city council meeting, with Aldermen Hervey, Thompson-Kelly and McNeely opposing. They're not the only ones against this idea. Some lawyers also question it.
"I'm disappointed that the city council decided to move forward with the ordinance." -says Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law Staff Attorney & Skadden Fellow Emily Werth.
Landlords will submit information into a database. Rockford Apartment Association President Paul Arena says this computer program costs just under $5,000. When police are called to one of their properties they'll get notification through the software saying officers were present. After three incidents dealing with problems like felonies, property owners have options. They and their tenant can sit down with a voluntary 5-member mediation board, made up of individuals like neighborhood group members and citizens at large, to work out solutions which could include penalties and evictions. Arena says acts of domestic violence are not covered under this ordinance, to protect victims from fines or being kicked out of their homes if they live with their abusers. Werth thinks it could actually increase the chance of eviction.
"What the abuser ends up getting arrested for may not be domestic violence or sexual violence. It may be resisting arrest, it may be breaking and entering, it may be criminal damage to property. Those are things that would still trigger the ordinance." -she says.
After four years of discussions, Arena's glad to see this get going. If it was voted down, he would have been done trying.
"We went beyond just talking about a problem, we're taking action. It might not be perfect, everybody might not be completely happy with it. I think from our perspective we gave and compromised on it." -he adds.
Also at Monday's meeting, the 2013 budget was laid over in full council until next week and part of a project designed to boost sports tourism, Reclaiming First, moves forward. Aldermen approved the engineering and design agreement for turning the downtown Ingersoll building into an indoor sports complex.
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