Most rental apartment buildings in Evanston should soon have signs posted outside the main entrance providing the name and phone number of an emergency contact.

That was one of numerous changes made last year to the city’s property maintenance code. Previously that information only had to be given to tenants and be posted inside the building.

Sarah Flax, the city’s community development director, told residents at a 5th Ward meeting Thursday night that, as they resume routine inspections following the COVID-19 pandemic, city inspectors are starting to enforce the new rule.

The only properties exempt from the rule are owner-occupied two flats.

Jeff Masters, who lives in the 1900 block of Wesley Avenue in the ward, said the neighborhood has a problem with absentee landlords who don’t keep up their properties.

Having contact information for owners could help neighbors alert them to issues with their buildings, without having to complain to city inspectors, Masters added.

And Flax supported that idea saying, “There’s nothing better than neighbor-to-neighbor communication and support, it’s really valuable.”

She added that she’s asked her team to put together a sign template that would provide landlords with a model of what the signs should look like.

The code language calls for a sign “with alphabet letters and Arabic numerals at least 1½ inches (37 mm) high and ¼-inch (6 mm) stroke and maintained on the exterior of the building near the main entryway at least five feet (5) above grade.”

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. In the amended building code Arabic letters are correct but the alphabet should have been stated as modern Latin.

  2. It will be interesting to see how compliant “absentee landlords who don’t keep up their properties” are going to be with the new City of Evanston – Property Maintenance Code amendment. My sense is it will be a long while before the new “301.4 Emergency Phone Contact” code requirement is fully implemented and effectively enforced resulting in any positive differences in property standards.

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