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City hopes to tap landlords for more revenue

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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

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