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Slumlords Beware

In a decision likely to hearten owners of buildings near run-down properties, a court recently upheld an ordinance in the City of Kankakee designed to rid the city of slums. The ordinance allowed the city to place a sign in front of a property that the owner had refused to repair, describing the property as "slum property" and naming the owner.

In its decision, the court found that the city's placement of the sign on the property in question was not improper, because the city did not single out the property owner or place the sign on his property out of vindictiveness. Instead, the court ruled that the city treated the property owner exactly the same as it had treated other slumlords. The evidence showed that about one-third of slum properties marked with a sign were repaired, making the sign ordinance an effective way of encouraging property owners to meet basic health and safety codes.

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