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A city subcommittee reached agreement Thursday evening on a new plan for dealing with nuisance conditions at rental properties in Evanston.

The plan, drafted by Assistant City Attorney Michelle Masoncup, would amend the city’s existing landlord-tenant regulations.

Criminal activity on the landlord’s property engaged in or facilitated by a tenant, household member, guest or any person under the tenant’s control or any action by them that “jeopardizes the health, safety and welfare of the landlord, his or her agent or other tenants” or that “involves imminent or actual serious property damage” would become a lease violation that would give the landlord a basis to seek a court-ordered eviction.

Unlike the city’s existing nuisance property ordinance, the new rule would permit eviction based on an arrest, without waiting for a conviction.

The eviction action could be directed against the single member of the household accused of the criminal behavior, and the ordinance would protect victims of domestic violence and other criminal activites from being evicted.

The proposed ordinance lists 11 specific crimes that would trigger the enforcement action — ranging from homicide to mob action.

In addition, the amendment would require landlords to “address” criminal activity on the property, although it would not require the landlord to evict the tenants involved.

The proposal envisions a process in which city staff would try to work with a landlord to resolve such nuisance issues and only issue nuisance citations to a landlord who failed to cooperate. 

Members of the committee, which included three aldermen and three landlords, agreed that the latest approach was much more workable than a scheme proposed by city staff earlier this year that would have created a new “neighborhood integrity ordinance” and required licensing of rental properties.

That plan was attacked as draconian for its severe penalties on landlords and for the possibility that it might have led to the eviction of tenants who were crime victims.

Committee members indicated they may have one more meeting to review a final draft of the city code amendments, which likely will reach the City Council for action later this summer. 

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Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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