Evanston aldermen on the Planning and Development Committee are scheduled Monday to again discuss a new scheme for regulating landlords in the city.
The staff proposal, unveiled in July, would replace the current registration requirement for rental apartments with a licensing model with stiffer enforcement rules and higher fees.
But owners of two-unit buildings who live in one of the units — required to register under the existing ordinance — would be exempt from the new licensing scheme.
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.
Community and Economic Development Director Steve Griffin says the current registration scheme generates fees of about $70,000 — which is less than 12 percent of the cost of the city’s housing code compliance program.
The proposed new fee of $26 per unit is expected to generate about $320,000 — or more than half the cost of the program.
The ordinance would raise penalties for violations from a maximum of $375 per day to as much as $2,500 a day.
And it would 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.
It would also block the sale of occupied buildings with outstanding licensing violations
The ordinance in part appears designed to crack down on landlords who rent units to more than three unrelated people.
That practice is a frequent subject of complaints by homeowners living near the Northwestern University campus.
But it’s not clear whether the new rules would actually curtail the practice of students doubling-up in apartments, or just keep the extra residents from being listed on apartment leases.
Protest sign: An Evanston Now reader discovered this slogan stenciled on the CTA viaduct at Hamlin Street this morning. The reader says the work appears to have been done with dirt or some other substance that would wash off. Students who object to the ordinance limiting the number of unrelated people who can share an apartment have dubbed it the ‘brothel law,’ based on an apocryphal story about its origin.
Griffin says owner-occupied two-flats are rarely the source of complaints about overcrowding or serious code violations. He says they amount to about half of the total rental buildings in the city, and eliminating them from the licensing plan would free up staff time to more closely track problems in the investor-owned buildings that generate the most complaints.
The ordinance would also scale back the schedule for routine inspections of rental properties to once every four years. The city has claimed to operate on a once-every-two-year schedule for rental property inspections.
Proposed new rental licensing ordinance