RAA says legal opinion validates ordinance concerns

By Shane Nicholson
Managing Editor

The on-going war of words between the Rockford Apartment Association (RAA) and the City of Rockford over a proposed ordinance concerning private property rights continues into week 3.

In a release Tuesday, the RAA provided a legal analysis of the proposed Residential Quality Support Ordinance from Park Ridge law firm Faraci and Faraci.

At the crux of the argument put forward by the RAA in two guest commentaries on our own website was the use of the word “let” in the City’s language.

Attorney Peter S. Faraci agrees with RAA head Paul Arena, stating, “Based upon the definition of ‘let’…the Ordinance would expand to include owners who simply permit a non-owner to live in a room of their home or apartment, etc. even without a written lease or rental agreement.

“To break it down even further,” they continue, “a dwelling is a structure or any part of a structure. A room in a single standing four-bedroom home where you live with your spouse and two children is part of that structure/dwelling unit. You have a friend that needs a place to stay for four or five months to get back on his/her feet. S/he is not on the title of the home and s/he is occupying a room with an unwritten agreement. You are now required to register with the city.”

In a column by Chuck Sweeny in the Rockford Register Star last week, city legal director Patrick Hayes decried Arena’s commentary, saying the RAA head was trying to create fear at the 11th hour.

“It has never been our intent to include homeowners,” Hayes told Sweeny. “The RAA has had our language for months, we had public meetings with them, we invited them to the process.”

Arena says the RAA has been in contact with the city throughout the entire process and is working toward a solution. “We’re trying to resolve it immediately,” he said when reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.

“I’ve talked to my board–we’re trying to find a compromise and get it done.”

The initial ordinance was amended prior to being tabled by the city council to narrow its scope after initial concerns were raised, specifically defining an exemption for owners of “single-family owner occupied dwellings.”

But the firm RAA contacted believes that, while narrowing its scope marginally, the wording still leaves gaps that could be exploited without clarification.

“There is no question that the May 18th amendment still means that owner-occupied multi-family homes must register,” they said, “but there is uncertainty of what the city actually considers a ‘single-family, owner occupied dwelling.’”

Faraci concludes that “without a specific definition written in the Ordinance, the May 18th proposal is extremely uncertain and leaves too much up for interpretation.”

Arena said that the RAA will continue to work with the city to reach an acceptable outcome for all interested parties. The city did not return a request for comment.

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!