A group of Evanston landlords and a local Realtors group say they believe the city should reform the ordinance that prohibits more than three unrelated persons from sharing an apartment.

The groups say the current policy increases student housing costs and pushes students to live further away from campus life. And they claim it unfairly impacts young working adults, non-traditional families and senior citizens.

Here are excerpts from the statement by the Evanston Property Owners Association and the North Shore – Barrington Association of Realtors:

We applaud the Northwestern University student body for raising the proftle of this very important housing issue.

It is quite evident that this policy is unintentionally increasing student housing costs and pushing students further away from campus life. Beyond the consequences felt by the collective student body, this policy unjustly impacts other current and prospective residents, including young working adults, non-traditional families, and senior citizens.

Additionally, the policy decreases property values and disincentivizes investment in the community by eroding property rights and criminalizing the highest and best use of properties.

We are pleased that University and City officials are listening to the concerns raised by the student body; we also recognize the complaints of non-student residents living near campus. It is clear that further dialogue and reform regarding this policy is greatly needed, and the EPOA and NSBAR call for a robust and thoughtful discussion inclusionary of all perspectives.

Reform efforts are not geared toward allowing individuals to reside in unreasonably small or dangerous living spaces, and any attempts to falsely portray this issue as such will be rebuked. Both the EPOA and NSBAR, as always, are ready and excited to positively contribute to this discussion as it proceeds. We strongly suggest a diverse working group be formed in a timely manner to substantively review the current policy and propose any amendments deemed necessary.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Self-serving reasoning from landlords

    Believe it or not, landlords, you have the power to lower rents. 

    Rents close to campus are very high BECAUSE students are willing to pay them BECAUSE they are willing to break the law.

    It is simple supply and demand.  If NU provided shuttles out on central, dempster, main, etc. and spread the students out a little then demand for substandard, overcrowded housing near to campus would decrease and perhaps you would lower the rents. 

    Why should your need to make a profit be more important than a community’s right to maintain property standards and neighborhood quality of life?

  2. Landlords are The Problem

     The overcrowding law is not the cause of high rents.  The cause of high rents is the demand for housing near campus and the willingness of landlords to let students cram into too small apartments and houses.  We need to break the landlords’ stranglehold.  They need to be fined routinely – not occasionally – for overcrowding.  The university needs to promote affordable housing, not fight to maintain a pernicious system that enriches a few at the expense of its students.

  3. Relationship based occupancy law doesn’t make any sense

    Occupancy limits should not be based on the relationship of the individuals invovled.  If you are renting out a house or an apartment/condo (i.e. it is not owner occupied), the occupancy limit should be based on something meaningful, like safety or square foot of space per occupant.  This is one way that makes sense for the building/neighborhood/city and for the people living there.  Who cares if the renters are related or not?  Laws not based in logic,such as this one, waste everyones time as people ignore or disgard them because they cannot understand the purpose.

  4. It is very frustrating

    It is very frustrating that no matter what Landlords do they are always the source of the problem. Why do the residents always think this?

    The properties that surround the campus are properties with 6,7,8 and even 9 legitimate bedrooms. Why does a Landlord have the the right to rent the property to a family of 9 people but if a group of 9 people move in the house is unusable?

    The number of people residing in property does not equal the amount of noise or garbage the property will put out. Landlords have pleaded with residents and the City to involve them in coming a to realistic solution to the parties and noise, and not once have the Landlords been asked to be involved. The rental properties provide MILLIONS of dollars in tax revenue to the City and yet the Owners of these properties are rarely if ever given a voice. What ever happened to no taxation without representation? Well I ask, where is the Landlord representation?? Why is the Landlord always the bad guy, because they rent their property for income, when did that become a crime?

    Residents complain that the Landlords are causing high rents, it is in fact the opposite. Think about the following:

    The enforcement of the Ordinance will cause high rents. If a property has 8 legitimate bedrooms and the Ordinance is enforced that means that the amount of money required to operate that same property will go up, way up. This means that a Landlord will be forced to raise the rents to cover the expenses, which are already high
    If expenses rise, then the Landlord will be forced to find an alternate route to deal with their properties this will lead to:
    – Large amount of vacancies = lower property values = lower tax revenue
    – Alternative Tenants = Section 8 housing

    The Residents would be better off trying to work with the Landlords to come to a solution that would work for everyone, which many Landlords are happy to do. But just saying don’t rent to students is not a valid solution. The students have every right to rent just as much as the next person, or family for that matter.

    Furthermore, just pushing the students further away from campus will not solve anything and in many cases cause a whole set of other problems.
    – Right now the students are residing in a small radius around the campus, that can be policed is a relative easy manner (whether it is being done properly is a totally different issue). If students are forced to move further away from campus the parties will not just go away, they will just move to other parts of the City, which will lead to even more problems in policing.
    – Students looking for inexpensive housing will be forced to move to alternative areas of the City which may generate huge safety concerns. Right now, it is just an issue of noise. By pushing students out it could be worse like mugging or rapes, which I am sure nobody wants.

    The current strategy helps no one. If the student body suffers that means that the University suffers which means that in the end Evanston will suffer.

    If you are a resident reading this please work with the Landlords to come to realistic solution.
    If you are a Landlord reading this please open your mind to the idea that you have to be involved to solve this problem
    If you are a City Official please be aware that it is your responsibility to represent ALL the constituents who pay taxes and find a way to work with everyone
    If you are a student then speak to your fellow classmates to realize that this is a real life problem that requires a real life solution and you can’t just party or complain your way out of it.

    Unless a solution is brought forth that EVERYONE can agree on this will always remain an issue, no matter if this Law gets enforced or not.

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