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Batavia aldermen propose expanding housing program

BATAVIA – Aldermen at Tuesday’s Joint Committee of the Whole meeting recommended the expansion of the city’s crime-free housing program.

The recommendation will go before the full City Council on Monday. City staff members recommended that Batavia’s crime-free housing program be renamed and expanded to include more rental buildings within the city.

Batavia aldermen in September 2011 approved the two-year pilot program, which ends this year. City staff recommended the program be made permanent, and that it be renamed “City of Batavia Rental Property Licensing Program” to show a more comprehensive approach to rental licensing activity.

“We want it to be a more comprehensive program rather than just a police program,” Batavia Community Development Director Scott Buening told aldermen. “It’s also about the condition of the housing. We think it will do a lot to help bring them [rental buildings] to a higher standard in the community.”

Staff has proposed that a building or complex would need to pass a property maintenance inspection before the owner is issued a rental property license. The inspection would include the exterior of the building’s grounds and common areas within the building. Individual apartments would not be inspected, Buening said.

Under the current program, landlords must include a crime-free lease addendum that makes criminal activity a violation and grounds for eviction.

That includes murder, drug-related criminal activity, prostitution and unlawful use of weapons.

The addendum covers residents and their guests.

Right now, the program is in effect only for apartment complexes of 10 or more units. Staff is recommending the program be expanded to include those buildings or complexes that are six units or larger.

First Ward Alderman Garran Sparks asked Batavia Police Chief Gary Schira if he thought the program was sufficient.

“I think we have all the tools we need,” Schira said. “The issue is how much we can handle with our current staff. It’s been a helpful tool for us and the property owners.”

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