Evanston landlords launched a broad attack Tuesday night on proposed landlord tenant ordinance revisions they say would make it nearly impossible to evict disruptive tenants.
The new rules would sharply restrict the right of landlords to not renew a lease at the end of its one-year term.
That, landlord Alan Goldberg told the Housing and Community Development Committee, would give tenants a “lifetime lease” — the right to occupy an apartment in perpetuity.
But tenants, Goldberg said, would have no corresponding obligation to renew their leases.
Goldberg added that the ordinance would make it impossible to evict a problem tenant without paying them onerous moving and relocation fees.
“So if you get a bad apple, someone who’s causing problems for the other tenants, you’re stuck.” Goldberg said.
Another landlord, Eric Paset, said landlords “don’t just not renew people for no reason” and that the ordinance would end up forcing good tenants to have to share their buildings with disruptive ones.
All the provisions, landlords said, would sharply raise costs for building owners, forcing them to increase rents and make rental housing less affordable in Evanston.
Mary Rosinski, a landlord and real estate agent, said the new restrictions would discourage small landlords who offer the most affordable rents in town.
“Housing is a right,” Rosinski said, “but it’s not only the responsibility of housing providers, she added — suggesting the city could “help people more.”
Several speakers suggested that at least small landlords with up to six units and owner-occupied buildings should be exempt from the ordinance
Aaron Weinstein, from a group called North Shore Housing Providers, said another provision of the ordinance limiting rent increases likely violates the state’s ban on rent control.
Dan Schermerhorn said he’s operated a property management company in Evanston for 40 years and that while the City Council talks about housing affordability, provisions in the ordinance requiring relocation fees would end up raising rents.
“If a landlord has to pay 25% of a year’s rent in relocation fees, what will the landlord do? Raise rents,” Schermerhorn said.
Hugo Rodriguez, a landlord and member of the committee, said the ordinance was developed by tenant advocacy groups and that has resulted in an “unbalanced” proposal.
A Just Cause Task Force, chaired by Ald. Devon Reid (8th), created to study that section of the ordinance, “was not balanced,” and Reid just “pushed through” his agenda, Rodriguez added.
“Small landlords are going to be the most impacted by this,” Rodriguez said. “It’s really bad.”
Reid claimed that the ordinance would simply correct a power imbalance that now favors landlords.
“Every day this law is not in place, there are tenants out there in our community that are at risk of being evicted for no cause,” said Reid, who himself was evicted earlier this year for nonpayment of rent.
The committee discussed the measure for more than two hours but reached no conclusions and will pick up the discussion at a future meeting on a date to be determined.
More details about the proposal can be found on the Housing and Community Development committee webpage.