Local Government Affairs Director Conor Brown

When local officials in Freeport looked to adopt a vacant property ordinance from another community this past April, REALTORS® worked to slow down the process to be sure officials took a critical look at the impact. REALTORS® were wary of the broad definition for vacant property and high fees.

“At the extreme the vacant property definition was too broad and charged excessive fees and warrantless inspections,” said Conor Brown, IAR governmental affairs director for the region. “We worked to tighten the definition, reduce the fees from $500 to inspect a single-family home to $75 with a sliding scale for residential and commercial properties.

Another issue of contention was the ability to refuse an inspection; REALTORS® sought language in the ordinance that would allow refusal and require a search warrant from the city. While a compromise was developing, the ordinance did not pass at the city council meeting on May 21.

Says Brown: “Ultimately we want to make sure there is a balance between the city’s interests to keep properties safe and enforcing the code with those of the rights of private property owners so there is not a regulatory or financial burden on property owners.”

Even with the changes, alderman were not comfortable with the regulatory oversight and burden this would place on some property owners, and they voted it down.

Read the recap in the Journal-Standard “City votes down vacancy ordinance.”