Why does code enforcement exist?
Generally, properties that are well cared for are more likely to increase in value over time. Active enforcement of the City’s Code of Ordinances helps to ensure the maintenance, appearance and safety of both residential and commercial areas. Cities that are well maintained are most likely to attract potential buyers and investors, and have higher property values.
How does code enforcement work?
All houses, fences, garages , and other buildings must be kept in a clean, safe and sanitary condition. The owner of the property is responsible for keeping the premises up to Code. If a City inspector observes a violation of the Code—or if a complaint is verified by an inspector—a Notice of Ordinance Violation is given to the property owner of record along with a due date for compliance. If the code violation is not corrected in time, a court appearance and/or fines may result.
I just received a Notice of Ordinance Violation (NOV). Now what?
An NOV will contain a description of the code violation, the specific details required for compliance, and a due date. If you are able to comply by the deadline, the matter will be closed and no further action will result. However, please call our office if you have any further questions or wish to speak with an inspector; extensions may be granted for good reason and so long as you contact us before the due date. But most importantly, please do not ignore the Notice, as tickets and fines may result.
I was not able to make the corrections listed on the NOV by the due date. What will happen now?
If the matter is not resolved by the due date listed on the NOV, or it is not resolved in a satisfactory manner, you may be issued a Notice-To-Appear (NTA), which is a summons to attend Administrative Adjudication at City Hall. The NTA will include information such as the type of violation and the date and time of the Adjudication proceedings.
At the proceedings, which you, your attorney or agent must attend, the hearing officer will review the case and a fine may be imposed. It is of further note that code violations that have been corrected prior to the Adjudication date may result in minimum fines, provided there is no previous history for similar violations. The goal of code enforcement is to gain compliance; fines are a last resort only.
I was found liable and fined. How do I pay the fine?
You have 47 days after the judgment date to pay the fine amount. If left unpaid after 47 days, a Memorandum of Judgment (MOJ) or lien will be placed on the property. Any lien on your property must be removed before you will be able to sell, refinance or even obtain a home equity loan. Note that unpaid fines issued to individuals other than property owners, e.g., tenants, will result in those fines being sent to collections.
You may pay with cash, check or credit card. If you pay by mail, please make certain to reference the property address with your payment. Partial payments can be made during the 47-day time period.
How do I file a complaint?
You may file an anonymous complaint by calling, stopping by our office or sending an email to CommunityDev@westchicago.org. Be prepared to provide us with the exact address of the property and a description of the violation. Our inspectors will review the matter and if a violation is determined, the appropriate steps will be taken to gain compliance.