New legislation tougher on Urbana landlords

By Jenette Sturges

The Urbana City Council voted Monday night in a special session to ticket lax Urbana landlords, a change in the current building and fire code designed to speed repairs in rental apartments and houses.

The new legislation would ticket landlords $100 on first notice for failure to comply with deadlines set by the city to fix rental units. It would also standardize the amount of time landlords can be granted to make repairs: 1-3 days for life-threatening issues, 1-5 days for livability issues and 30 days for all other complaints.

The legislation passed 6-2, with some council members pushing for higher fines.

“Landlords who don’t finish on time, that’s probably a very high number of situations,” said Danielle Chynoweth, Ward 2.

Chynoweth pushed for a fine of $300 or greater for landlords who fail to comply with city repair requests.

Other council members expressed concerns that the more stringent rules would drive out landlords. “‘I’m selling my property and I’m out,’ – I’ve heard that from more than ten landlords,” said Heather Stevenson, Ward 7.

Landlords who refuse to make repairs after multiple notices will still be taken to court by the city.