Many municipalities enact crime free housing ordinances meant to protect their residents' safety and improve the quality of their lives. The ordinances are intended to reduce the harmful effects of renters on adjacent properties, property values and owners. Despite the name, these ordinances do little to deter crime and, instead, can cause undue stress on responsible property owners. As an example, some ordinances require property owners to live in the same community as their rental properties and obtain licenses from municipalities before they are allowed to rent their properties. This could be burdensome for property owners who may need to rent out their homes due to job transfers or unexpected financial hardships. Crime free ordinances are meant to create a harmonious balance between renters and property owners alike but oftentimes the stringent guidelines do not provide benefits to either party.
Many municipalities require point-of-sale inspections, which are meant to help sellers and buyers understand what repairs or upgrades need to be made to homes prior to closing. A home inspection done by a qualified, licensed individual of the buyers' choice is an important part of the property transaction. However, some municipalities mandate that homes be inspected by government officials. Often these individuals are not fully qualified to inspect properties and can halt transactions over issues that have nothing to do with protecting occupants' safety, such as cosmetic concerns or chipped paint. The situation is often exacerbated when the property is listed "as is" or is an estate sale. In such cases, government inspectors unwittingly prevent buyers from occupying their new properties due to misunderstandings on contract language.
Municipalities that are governed by home rule can adopt local policies that trump state laws, including levying taxes and enforcing regulations on businesses and citizens. Any community with a population greater than 25,000 is considered a home rule unit, but smaller municipalities can become home rule units if voters approve the move as part of ballot referenda. The provision is intended to give municipalities more local authority, but, when abused, home rule unnecessarily burdens and disenfranchises homeowners.
Homestead exemptions allow eligible Illinois homeowners to exclude portions of their properties' assessed value on their tax returns, which lowers their overall tax burdens. To claim the exemption, homeowners must have occupied the properties they are claiming as their principal residences since January 1 of that calendar year.
An impact fee is an additional cost that is imposed on a new development by a local government to help pay the cost of providing public services to the community. Impact fees are an increasingly common and controversial tool that local governments around the country use to help pay for new schools, sewer systems, parks and infrastructure improvements that they believe future tax revenues will not cover.