St. Charles mulls “crime free addendum”

St. Charles, IllinoisSt. Charles, Illinois is the latest in a long list of Chicago suburbs who either have passed or are contemplating the passage of “crime free lease addendum” legislation.  A story in the Daily Herald indicates that St. Charles city leaders appear to be in favor of the crime free lease addendum law that would create a rental property inspection program and allow for the eviction of tenants who engage in crimes. 

The article indicates that the law would come with an administrative cost but also that

“new fees for inspections could see the city turn a profit from the program. Landlords and perhaps ultimately tenants would pay from $25 for a condo unit to $1,200 for apartment complexes of more than 250 units.”

Support for these types of laws is understandable.  What municipal leader would not be in favor of passing a law that purports to 1) reduce crime; 2) improve the quality of rental properties; and 3) bring in new revenue for a municipality.

The real question is whether or not the legislation actually works and whether or not it is fair to shift the enforcement cost and other burdens on rental property owners.  I have written in this blog before about the cost-shifting that crime-free lease programs impose on landlords.  These laws make lessors pick up the slack for municipalities.  However, in an era of sound bites, the popularity of these laws is easy to understand.  Only the most organized landlords will have the power to challenge the passage of these programs.