City may force landlords to pay departing tenants

An apartment building at Hinman Avenue and Lee Street -- one of many that would be affected by the city proposal. Google Maps)

Evanston city staff will ask aldermen Monday whether they want to force landlords to pay off tenants when leases aren't renewed.

A staff memo highlights a plan that the City Council in Long Beach, California, on a 6-3 vote, directed city staff there last month to turn into a draft ordinance.

The Long Beach displaced tenants plan would require owners of buidings with four or more units to pay two months rent to tenants whose leases are not renewed or who opt to leave after being faced with a rent hike of 10 percent or more.

Tenants being asked to leave for failure to pay rent, violating lease terms, damaging the property or other violations would not be entitled to the payment.

The Long Beach plan would also create a city fund to pay displaced seniors and people with disabilities an extra $2,000 on top of what the landlord would owe and would create other provisions to benefit seniors.

News reports say that in some Long Beach neighborhoods long-time tenants have been forced out by triple-digit rent increases.

The city staff report here provides no data on the level of displacement or typical size of rent increases being experienced in Evanston, but some reports from rental listing services suggest annual increases here have been as low as 1 percent, although others peg the average increase at more than 6 percent.

Data from the national Eviction Lab project at Princeton University indicates that in 2016, the most recent year for which data is available, the eviction rate was 0.43 percent. That was less than a third the Illinois statewide rate of 1.58 percent and the 1.34 percent eviction rate in 2016 in Long Beach, California.

It says the eviction rate in Evanston in Evanston peaked at 1.29 percent in 2012.

It's unclear whether the Evanston proposal would run afoul of the statewide ban on rent control or how it would interact with proposals under consideration in Springfield to repeal the rent control ban and set up a system of regional rent regulation boards.

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Comments

Lease required

Hi Dan,

The Evanston City Code, 5-3-3-1, requires a written rental agreement, aka a lease, for all rental dwelling units in the city.

-- Bill

Roomers

Hi Dan,

The discussion from staff regarding the Long Beach proposal does not address that.

The city code has different provisions for hotels and rooming houses, which it calls lodging establishments, from the rules for rental apartments, but I believe that anyone renting space in a private home to roomers or boarders in a setting that wasn't required to be licensed as a rooming house would be well advised to have written leases, whether or not they fall under the rental lease requirement of the city code.

-- Bill