An Illinois Appellate Court recently ruled in favor of a village in a challenge to the constitutionality of the village’s residential rental registration ordinance. Reynolds v. Village of Creve Coeur.
In 2006, the village enacted an ordinance requiring registration of residential rental units, including mobile homes. The annual fee for registration was $5. In 2013, the village amended the ordinance to raise the fee to $25 per year and to authorize the village to inspect residential rental units for compliance with village building, utility, nuisance, and other ordinances and regulations.
The owner of a mobile home park sued, claiming the village lacked authority to pass the rental registration ordinance, that federal law preempted the ordinance, and that the registration fee was an impermissible tax. Ultimately, the trial court dismissed all three counts of the lawsuit and the owner appealed the dismissal of count II of his complaint which had argued the ordinance was preempted by federal law.
On appeal, the owner argued that the ordinance was preempted by the National Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act of 1974 (“Act”) and federal regulations adopted by HUD. The Appellate Court looked at the preemption provision of the Act which restricts state and local governments from adopting construction and safety standards on mobile homes that differ from HUD regulations. First, the Court determined that the owner’s challenge to the constitutionality of the registration fee was not preempted by the Act because the fee did not impose a “construction or safety standard.” Second, the Court held that any challenge to the ordinance’s inspection provisions was not yet “ripe” because the owner did not claim the village had ever tried to inspect his mobile homes or enforce any ordinance violations against him so there was no “dispute” for the court to decide. Finally, the Court rejected the owner’s claim that the ordinance was “unconstitutionally vague,” finding that the owner waived that issue because he failed to raise it at the trial court. In sum, the Court upheld the ruling in favor of the village that dismissed the owner’s challenge to the village’s residential rental ordinance.