FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How and when did this inspection program begin?
In March 2008, the Village of Beach Park Board of Trustees adopted ordinance 2008-O-25. The ordinance requires single-family and two-family residential property owners, upon selling their home, to obtain a certificate (zoning certificate) from the Village which only was supposed to detail the property’s current zoning status.
Recently, at some point, without amending the ordinance, the Village has begun to include exterior inspections as part of the zoning certificate program. The inspection details alleged exterior code violations that must be fixed.
What type of code violations are typically cited?
Examples of code violations cited as part of this inspection program include: peeling paint, overgrown grass, fascia and soffit repair, missing window screens, missing window well covers, missing cover on exterior light, inoperable post light, curling shingles, damaged fencing, missing handrails, four-inch minimum house numbers not visible from street, and the like.
Does the Village have the authority to cite for code violations? And if so, then why is this a bad policy?
The Village has the right to cite for property code violations at any time, which begs the question why the Village would focus its efforts when properties sell.
A home sale is a very fragile process with many moving parts. Citing a home seller with a pile of code violations right as they are trying to sell their home complicates existing negotiations, financing, and title – often delaying or derailing transactions altogether.
This is worsened by the fact that waiting to address code violations when home sellers and buyers, undergoing one of (if not the) largest financial transactions of their lives, have limited access to money and little time to plan for repair costs.
It is far easier and more affordable for home owners to address one or two code violations as they arise than a list of five, six, seven, or more violations under duress, in a limited amount of time.
Have these types of ordinances caused issues in other municipalities?
While the vast majority of Illinois municipalities do not inspect your home upon sale, we have found, among those that do, significant problems, including delayed and derailed transactions, inspectors citing for cosmetic, non-life-safety issues, inspectors citing for issues not in violation of the building code, and different inspectors in the same community using different standards.
Is your organization saying Beach Park should not cite for exterior code violations?
No, but what we are saying is that the absolute worst, least effective time to point-out code violations is right when a resident is trying to sell their home. As the area’s leading voice for real estate, we, REALTORS®, know, more than anyone, that the last thing a home sale needs is more bureaucratic red tape.
Will this exterior inspection program lead to interior inspections?
It’s certainly possible that once residents become more accustomed to an exterior inspection scheme, that the village would attempt to compel interior inspections as well. There are Illinois municipalities that do require interior home inspections upon selling your home.
How is this different from a private home inspection?
Private home inspectors are licensed by the state of Illinois, are selected by the homebuyer, and the scope of the inspection, which generally occurs very early in the buying process, must meet state standards. Additionally, the private home inspectors’ observations are advisory. Municipal government inspectors, on the other hand, do not have to be licensed or credentialed in any way, their directives are compulsory, and they can fine property owners for alleged violations.
Authorized and paid for by the Real Property Alliance. The Real Property Alliance is a non-profit, educational organization affiliated with the Illinois REALTORS® that provides insight and analysis for Illinois property owners. For more information, please contact Howard Handler at firstname.lastname@example.org or 847-480-7177.
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