Panel grapples with landlord legislation in Skokie
Updated: December 9, 2012 6:16AM
SKOKIE — Should Skokie adopt a licensing program for the village’s rental housing units, or a simpler registration system for landlords?
That’s just one question with which an Interim Landlord-Resident Advisory Committee is grappling over.
The village had proposed a licensing program requiring landlords to pay $25 per unit for licenses and another $10 per certified owner or managing unit. Owners occupying their two-flats would be exempt from the fee. Landlords would also attend a landlord-training class to become certified.
But because of a vociferous reaction from landlords, trustees tabled the vote, and Mayor George Van Dusen created a 12-member committee to make recommendations to the village board.
That may not be so easy though, based on the committee’s second meeting Oct. 31.
Landlords on the committee still believe the program is too intrusive and imposes an unfair financial burden, although at least one landlord said he favored a registration program.
Landlord George Sweet said the village has enough tools already on the books to deal with problems.
“Let’s look at tools that are not being used now,” he said, echoing a point of many landlords.
Landlord Richard Toth said that Chicago has a registration program but the city is not as involved. He said a registration program should charge $25 a year but not for each unit.
Opponents maintained good landlords will not stay or come to Skokie if legislation is too intrusive and creates financial hardship.
Proponents see the ordinance as having potential benefits.
“I understand that people are unhappy with the suggestion of the ordinance,” said committee member and resident Jeff Burman. “But most businesses require a license. I don’t know of many that don’t.”
The committee’s first meeting included outside speakers who have knowledge of similar licensing laws. The Oct. 31 meeting was supposed to tackle the proposed ordinance line by line, but Trustee Don Perille, committee chairman, delayed that task.
Instead, he said, there needed to be a free-wheeling discussion to allow committee members to speak out.
Assistant Village Manager John Lockerby calls the proposed licensing program “preventative,” a way for landlords and the village to work together better. He said crime statistics indicate overall crime is declining.
“The village of Skokie is not concerned about crime increasing,” he said. “In aggregate, crime has been going down in recent years.”
Burman, also a proponent of the ordinance, passed out his own statistics compiled by Skokie Voice, a residents’ association, showing that more serious crime has spiked in concentrated areas the last 12 years.
Perille insists there will be new housing legislation, so it’s important to reach compromise.
The committee will next meet Nov. 14.