Mount Vernon looks at new rental ordinance; Landlords say not so fast

By Julia Bruck - bioemail

MOUNT VERNON, IL (KFVS) -  Before the Mount Vernon City council is an ordinance to create tougher regulations for landlords and the people who live in their rental properties. But some rental owners say not so fast, the ordinance has problems.

"It's a three bedroom, bath and a half," Landlord Kyle Minor said.

Minor shows Heartland News around a home for rent in Mount Vernon, Illinois. It's just one of several properties Minor owns in the city.

"On this property I'm actually in debt on because of a roof we had to put on, because of sewer problems that we had to fix," Minor said. "It's going to be about four years before we break even,"

Minor says he's happy to fix problems and right now prioritizes which ones must get done first.   A choice Minor says will be lost if city council passes a proposed rental code, which forces landlords to make repairs on deadlines or face fines.

"Some of the repairs may not be that drastic others will, with multiple properties I have several that will need some drastic changes done," Minor said. "I can't afford to pay that out of my own pocket. I don't make that much money on rental properties."

Mount Vernon does have property codes. City leaders say they have no teeth. But under the proposed ordinance if landlords and renter doesn't fix a violation they could end up at the Jefferson County Court house.

"The court systems will levy the fines," Mount Vernon Assistant Fire Chief Kevin Sargent said. "The city will not levy the fines against anybody without going through the court system."

Sargent started work on a new rental ordinance some four years ago, back when he was an inspector.  One of the problems he found in rental homes, include faulty electrical wiring.

"You'll see here where we have wires just hanging haphazardly in the basement of this rental property which actually cause this fire," Sargent said pointing to a picture.

Electrical issues are just one of the many violations that would be addressed under the proposed new ordinance. Sergeant says bottom line, it's protect the public and save tax dollars in the long run.

But Minor says in the end the new ordinance could cost renters more.

"The rental prices in Mount Vernon will drastically increase because of this ordinance," Minor said.

Under the ordinance rental properties must be inspected every three years, at a cost of $50 to the landlord. Minor says while there is a problem, parts of the ordinance need to be changed before a vote. The Mount Vernon City Council is expected to vote on the issue Monday evening.

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