Hillary Bean says she was the first, but doubts she’ll be the last.
Bean says the new management at the Avidor Apartments, a “55+ active adult” community, has given her 90 days’ notice that her lease is not being renewed, even though she “absolutely wants to stay.”
Bean says there was no reason provided for non-renewal, and she and her neighbors are perplexed.
“None of us can figure out why”, Bean adds.
“The building is not even fully occupied.”
Non-renewal without cause is legal, both under Evanston and State of Illinois codes, although it is more likely to occur in older buildings where the owner plans to renovate the units and charge higher rents.
And Evanston City Council committee is currently considering changes in the city’s landlord-tenant rules to give tenants additional rights, although a “just cause” eviction/non-renewal component is still being studied.
Such a measure would require landlords to give tenants a specific reason they are being pushed out. In some communities with “just cause” language, landlords even have to help pay relocation costs.
Earlier this year, Evanston Now reported about non-renewals in five buildings after a new owner purchased them.
But those buildings (previously owned by the Wirtz family) were nearly a century old, and the new company planned to fix up units and make the facilities more upscale, and hence, more expensive to rent.
And it’s not just in Evanston. Tuesday morning’s Chicago Tribune has a story about seven buildings being sold in the Beverly neighborhood, with nearly 120 renters given non-renewals without any reason by the new owner.
The Tribune says that owner is now backing away just a bit, offering to work with individual tenants on a case-by-case basis. However, there is no indication exactly what that will mean.
As with the Wirtz properties in Evanston, the Beverly buildings are far from brand-new.
The Avidor, on the other hand, is only about three years old, so it’s unclear what’s going on.
Evanston Now contacted the Avidor, but were told by management that they “decline the opportunity” to comment.
The National Apartment Association says the average annual turnover rate for rental housing has ranged from 47% to 54% over the past decade. That’s far higher than what seems to be occurring in the Avidor right now. The NAA says that the top reason for turnover is a rent increase, and in Bean’s case, the chance to pay more and stay was not provided.
In general, landlords have defended non-renewal without explanation, as a way to rid a building of problem tenants, such as those who are excessively noisy.
However, Bean says “I’ve never even been called to the principal’s office,” or in other words, to the building manager due to problems. She adds that she’s always paid her rent on time.
Bean says another couple has also received a non-renewal notice, also for unknown reasons.
Bean and two more Avidor tenants brought their concerns to the city’s Housing and Community Development Committee earlier this month.
Even though the two other residents have not been told to get out, they were concerned.
82-year-old Sharon Goodman said the new owner has been reducing amenities lately, but the biggest concern is fear and unease in the building due to lease non-renewals.
Goodman said she hoped going to the Avidor would be her “final move,” but now she’s afraid that might not be the case.
The Metropolitan Tenants Organization, a renters’ rights group, is now looking into the Avidor situation.
“We’ve gotten several calls from tenants there,” Executive Director John Bartlett tells Evanston Now.
He says MTO wants to “help the tenants form a tenants’ association,” so the residents might have more clout speaking with one organized voice.
Bartlett says he’s not sure exactly what’s going on with those getting non-renewals, but considering the 55+ age of the residents, “it’s totally stressful and really bad for people’s health” to have to find someplace new to live.
He believes a “just cause” eviction/non-renewal ordinance would help, perhaps not for those who’ve already received notice, but for others in the future.
As for Bean and her neighbors, she says “everybody is worried right now. None of us are safe.”