Rental license proposal slated for trustees
Skokie has about 5,000 rental units in 1,200 buildings. Each unit would be subject to licensing under a proposal slated for a Village Board vote — probably in June. | By Mike Isaacs~Sun-Times Media
WHAT: A program that would require all landlords to have licenses for each unit they rent out.
LANDLORD FEES: $25 per unit. Another $10 fee per certified owner or managing agent.
LANDLORD REQUIREMENTS: Attend a landlord training class to become certified. The class would highlight best practices, crime prevention principles and life safety code issues. Include a crime-free addendum or have a clause similar to the addendum in all leases.
VILLAGE TEETH: Withhold, suspend or revoke a landlord’s license for individual rental units.
RENTAL UNITS: 5,000 in 1,200 buildings.
NEXT: The Village Board is scheduled to vote in June.
Updated: June 29, 2012 9:32AM
Skokie leaders consider a proposal to license all multiunit rental housing in the village as a “preventative strategy” that will preserve or improve the character of neighborhoods.
Some landlords view it another way. They see it as government interference and a needless burden of time and money.
The deciding vote will come from the Village Board after two public hearings were held this spring and the village’s Public Safety Commission unanimously recommended the proposal.
If village trustees sign off, the new law will require landlords to pay annual fees, participate in an education program and maintain a crime-free building through a verification process.
“I do realize we do have some problems with some tenants periodically,” said property manager Constantine Theodoropoulos during one of the hearings.
“But if we have a drug dealer in the building, we do not rent to a drug dealer knowingly. If they are dealing drugs and the police knows about it, the police should arrest them and put them in jail. At that point, they’re no longer a tenant.”
Advocates say that such a program will not present the hardship some landlords claim.
“We found that multifamily licensing is common,” said Assistant Village Manager John Lockerby. “It’s actually prevalent in the Chicago metropolitan area but it also exists across the country.”
Skokie has 5,000 rental units in 1,200 buildings, the majority of them with two to four units.
Each landlord would be licensed annually for each unit in his or her building. The annual licensing fee would be $25 per unit, which officials believe would offset the expense of hiring a police officer to work full-time for the program.
Another $10 fee per certified owner or managing agent also would be charged.
The landlord or manager would have to attend a landlord training class to be certified. The class, village leaders say, would highlight best practices, crime prevention principles and life safety code issues.
The program also would allow the village to withhold, suspend or revoke a landlord’s license for individual rental units.
Any managing agent or owner entering into a rental lease would also have to include a crime-free lease addendum or have a clause similar to the addendum.
The most recent data show that 9.7 percent of calls that police received in 2010 came from such multiunit buildings.
One landlord said that the program is really about fines disguised as licensing, a charge village proponents deny. Another landlord said crime statistics do not reflect a need for the licensing.
But the licensing program has its share of supporters as well. Skokie Voice, the active residents’ association, has officially supported the licensing proposal, calling it “a means to promote public safety and compliance with property standards.”
The Village Board is scheduled to take up the proposal in June.