Once, twice, three times rental licensing killed in Evanston

Evanston City Council Meeting

A large crowd looks for seating at the Evanston City Council Meeting in March.

For at least the third time in recent history, the Evanston City Council rejected a rental licensing scheme that would empower city staff to revoke the ability to rent property.

The most recent proposal, in mid-March, in addition to licensing rental properties, sought to classify rental properties into two tiers – Tier I (“good” properties) and Tier II (“bad” properties).  Properties classified as Tier II would be subject to more frequent inspections, significantly higher fees and mandated public shaming of their status. The city maintains a simpler rental registration ordinance.

Coupled with the licensing ordinance, city staff proposed amendments to the city’s nuisance premises ordinance which is designed to bring alleged nuisance properties – rental or owner occupied – to the table in an effort to abate the nuisances.  The North Shore – Barrington Association of REALTORS® (NSBAR), along with other concerned residents, echoed the sentiments of the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, Open Communities, and the American Civil Liberties Union which wrote in a joint letter that Evanston should “consider relying on its existing authority to regulate rental housing and bring enforcement actions against problem property owners.”

Evanston - a view of Chicago on the right. The building in the center is under construction.

Evanston – a view of Chicago on the right. The building in the center is under construction.

Evanston REALTORS®, landlords, and other interested parties, largely led by NSBAR, vehemently criticized the proposals. The turnout at the first meeting was so large the fire chief was compelled to direct some attendees to an annex room with a live telecast of the meeting.

Ultimately, after two city council meetings, the Evanston City Council unanimously, again, rejected rental licensing and agreed to form a committee, comprised of aldermen and real estate professionals, to further study the nuisance premises ordinance.

“Rental licensing seems to be proposed by Evanston staff every four years, and we have been able to defeat it every time by educating the city council of its consequences and lack of necessity,” said NSBAR Past President Dan Schermerhorn (Schermerhorn & Co., Evanston).  “We are very pleased that the city council listened to our concerns and has agreed to work with us on any developing any changes to existing regulations.”


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About Howard Handler

Howard Handler is the Illinois Association of REALTORS® local Government Affairs Director (GAD) representing North Shore-Barrington Association of REALTORS® and Lake County for the Mainstreet Organization of REALTORS®.

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