Evanston officials plan to seek City Council adoption in September of a new regulatory scheme for rental apartments they believe will quadruple the money the city collects from landlords.

The new plan would replace the current registration requirement for rental apartments with a licensing model that would have stiffer enforcement rules and higher fees.

The plan would also exempt owner-occupied two unit buildings from the licensing requirement.

Opposition from landlords who live in their two-unit buildings was a major factor leading to defeat of a previous effort to change the rental registration rules in 2008, along with concerns that the tougher penalties might be unenforceable.

The latest plan, presented as a discussion item at Monday’s City Council meeting, would shift from a fee schedule that offers discounts for owners of larger buildings, to one that imposes a flat $26 per unit per year licensing charge.

Owners of two-unit owner-occupied buildings would no longer have to register, or pay a $30 annual fee.

Inspectional Services Division Manager Jeff Murphy said the city now raises about $70,000 a year from registering rental properties. He estimates the new program could bring in over $300,000 in licensing fees.

The city’s housing code compliance program cost about $600,000 last year, and the city covered $425,000 of that cost with federal Community Development Block Grant funds.

Murphy says the recent foreclosure crisis has led to increased work for inspectors with more properties abandoned and more condo units used as rentals.

He also conceded that owner-occupied two-unit buildings are generally well maintained and aren’t a major source of enforcement problems for the city.

The new ordinance would also raise penalties for violations from a maximum of $375 per day to as much as $2,500 a day.

It would also give the city manager authority to revoke rental licenses after a hearing and bar the issuance of a new license after revocation for six months for certain violations — including renting to more than three unrelated individuals.

Related documents

Proposed new rental licensing ordinance

Existing rental registration ordinance

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Another squeeze on Evanstonians

    It looks like Evanston officials are searching for ways to increase fees and fines to stay afloat. This is another example how the city is taking more from the public rather than cutting back.

    I wonder if this new ordinance applies to property owners who want to rent their condos.

    It sure is getting more difficult to live and do business in Evanston.

    1. Another Squeeze

      This is really vexing… Why are they calling it a licensing fee? IT IS JUST ANOTHER TAX! 

      I cant figure out why… I already pay more on my Cook County Property taxes because I don't live at my rentals.  I have been providing quality problem free rentals (free of problems for the City) for 23 years… During that time, taxes have skyrocketed 400%, City services have been cut back, insurance costs have tripled and now they want more, and more.

      In this economy, I have my first vacancies ever.  When I ask my existing tenants for a 3% rent increase, they flip out… On one hand the City want people like me to provide quality rentals and with the other hand, they are whipping me.  There is a point where my investment and hard work  just doesn't make sense and I am gone! In my humble opinion, everything about this is WRONG!

  2. More foreclosures coming up!

    More shortsales and more foreclosures coming up! 

    Evanston will be flooded with these for multi unit property with forced and strategic short sales by property owners who cannot take this crap anymore! 

    This will cause more potential investor to back away from Evanston or value Evanston properties lower than what they would have paid at this crappy market.  Perfect time to do this, in a horrible real estate market!

    What  happens if that goes on?  Property values go down.  Taxes assessed against it will go down.  So they need to increase more revenue by collecting more fees, fines, cut services, and whatever comes out from that.   

    Great work Jeff!  Hope enough revenue is collect so you can keep your job!

    — from, Evanston property investor who is actually going through shortsale/foreclosure.


    1. New Apt Fees

      Evanston is already much too expensive in terms of taxes and fees charged residents. This seems to be an example of over kill.

  3. How much more?

    When is the next city government election?  Has anyone started campaigning?  Anon. Al, I nominate you.

    1. Bond for Council ?

      How about a $100,000 bond plus liability insurance for each Council and Zoning member must post when entering office and that only refunded 10 years after they leave office.  And only after deducting the economic cost of the bad decisions they made that cost the taxpayers.

      An immediate deduction would have to be made for the sculptures above the city garage and park at Grove and Chicago Ave. which wasted taxpayer money.  Another for the 'gifts' the Council made to private businesses [e.g. fence for the restaurant by the theaters.  I guess after those [and probably many more] the council would have to bring their bond up to $100,000 again.

      1. Taxpayer art?

        I may be mistaken but I'm pretty sure the developers paid for the art on top of the Maple garage.  I think that was part of the development agreement when the project was built that X amount of dollars would be given to the city strictly and only for public art and no other use allowed or the money returned to the developer.

        Same situation with sculpture at Davis and Sherman and maybe others.

        I also believe a generous citizen stepped up, paid for and donated the art at Grove and Chicago.

        I'm pretty sure taxpayers paid basicallynothing to acquire and install any of those pieces. 

        Still, I do agree large amounts of taxpayer dollars are wasted at every level.  City, County, State and Federal.  But in this situation, thank you private citizen and developers for your donations funding Evanston public art.


        1. Not so certain about that!

          On the Maple ave garage – I believe the city used TIF funds to put up the two Evanston taxpayer trying to balance their high taxes, If not TIF funds there are so many interconnected funds – you would never know.

          The bitter irony is the city officials never finished the rental space in the garage with the TIF funds and it sits vacant, we have lost hundred of thousand of dollars.  Go by interestingly the city is the so called rental agent they will not even hire a real estate company to get it rented, clear they have no interest in getting rent, more mismanagement or political corruption.  These people will spend more time on a apartment behind the civic center, which they did not collect rent on for year than this mess,

          By the way a down town business man told me he was interested in the space and the city staff was not very responsive!

        2. Contractors Blackmailed ?

          Even if you are correct, how  can the city [with state approval] blackmail developers in to having to put up "art" let  alone terrible "art" if they want to build ?  I think James Thompson [then governor] started this because he liked "art"—in fact made it know what art people could donate to him.   Now we suffer from pseudo-art lovers who probably think a white canvas is great art—reminds me of the Emperor with No Clothes.

          Meanwhile contractors have to boost prices or cut features to afford the "art" that only a few snobs care for.

        3. Art?

          When we think of our tax dollars funding "art" we should reflect on Penelope, at Ridge & Emerson by the viaduct. Our graffiti artists won't even touch it!

  4. Not good for real estate market in Evanston

    I agree.   This is not a good for real estate sales.  I forwarded this story to everyone I know who had microscopic interest in investing or buying something in Evanston.  I too am shortselling (hopefully) or  foreclosing (I don't give a rat's ass at this point) my problem in Evanston.  

    Best of luck to all!  I hope buyers really read this story and do some research on this and how city of Evanston government operates before making horrible mistake as I did.  

    My message, please don't make the horrible mistake I made.

    I really like Ponzi's perspective on what a slumlord City of Evanston really is!

  5. Evanston city government in the interest of the people?

    I while back I posted a cartoon about the fact Wally had fired all the administrative adjudication  judges and replaced them with ones who would collect fees at the city council.  Not one public official said a word. Given most of them are lawyers one would wonder what law schools  they would have graduated? They also have hired a former council member now as a judge! When the motivation is fee collection not a fair hearing I have a problem with that!

    Two council meetings ago a citizen got  up and complained she was mistreated in the hearling twice.

    Most citzens by now should understand the city is the biggest slum lord in town it can not even maintain its own properties. Yet they are using marginal qualified so called property standards inspectors to write citizens up on minor ordinance problems such as pealing paint.  One resident stated to me that he was cited for pealing paint in February and given 30 days notice to correct it!  How long has the city had pealing paint on most of its facilities?

    Anyone who doubts this can go to the basement of the Civic Center the ventilation is so bad its moldy down there, I notice water on the floor and stained tiles.  A city employee told me he would not go down there since it makes him sick.  Currently the city has workers in the basement. The Mayor is trying to get a grant for her so called clinic to help the poor, one option is to put it in the basement, wonder it the clowns in the building department will review the clinic space prior to occupancy since there are numerous code issues

    Maybe the Mayor should help the poor but stopping the city of Evanston inspection on them?

    The Community Block grant funds are used to fund two of the property standards inspectors who prey on the poor in town. That is the are to inspect in the black neighborhoods mostly. These funds are likely to disappear,  That is why the city is proposing this newest rip off.

    The numbers they presented at the council did not added up and it appears they were over collecting.

    This whole thing is totally disgusting, and the decent citizens in this community should be appalled by this newest case of  city of Evanston nonsense

    1. Make me sick

      "Anyone who doubts this can go to the basement of the Civic Center the ventilation is so bad its moldy down there, I notice water on the floor and stained tiles.  A city employee told me he would not go down there since it makes him sick."

      I agree Ponzi…that Civic Center is disgusting and needs to be replaced.  It is unfortunate that we named it after Mayor Morton, because she was a good mayor and doesn't deserve to be associated with this disgraceful building.  We should rename it "The Chuckie Dawes Moldy Civic Center".

  6. ELTO Should be amended to be consistent with this.

    If the City is serious about this, The Landlord Tenant Ordinance should be amended as part of this effort.  It should specify that a copy of the license  must be incorporated as part of the lease – otherwise the lease is invalid/unenforceable.  Why should tenants be made to comply with leases from non-registered landlords?

    It's analagous to the 'no bikes on sidewalk' ordinance – what's the point with no enforcement?

    The current ordinance is not enforced.  Many leases are written in this town by property owners who have not registered their property with the City.  Just have any local real estate broker show how many rental properties are processed each month – few, if any, of those property owners have registered the property, I'll bet money.  If the lease required proof it was properly registered – I'll bet compliance would rise.

    Overall – this is governmental overreach … either do the job right or don't do it.  Reading the new ordinance – the justification basically argues it costs too much to enforce – so raise the fees and ultimately create more government work – which won't pay for itself – and lay the foundation for the next round of higher or new fees. 

    Bad policy. Bad government.

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