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Evanston rental licensing panel tweaks rules

The committee named to revise a proposed rental licensing ordinance softened penalties for over-occupancy violations at a meeting Thursday evening.

The group agreed that landlords should not be subject to a 180-day revocation of their right to rent a property simply because more tenants were occupying the space than permitted by city ordinance.

The vote came after landlords complained that they are powerless to force tenants to leave without a court-ordered eviction — a process that can often take six months or more.

But the committee failed to address the city's occupancy rules directly — rules that prohibit three or more unrelated individuals from living in the same dwelling unit, regardless of its size.

Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, who appointed the committee, said she wanted to wait to address that issue until after the licensing ordinance was acted on by the City Council.

Tisdahl conceded that now, "the reality is that nothing happens," when city inspectors discover over-occupancy violations — because of the difficulty of enforcing the ordinance through the courts and the frequent turnover in the student rental population.

The committee is scheduled to hold what is planned to be its final meeting on May 17.

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