BREAKING: Evanston landlords respond to City’s list of property violations

Staff Report

Several Evanston landlords wrote a news release Wednesday afternoon in response to the City’s release of 52 properties allegedly violating open building and/or overoccupancy codes two days ago.

The list outlined housing units, the majority of which are located a few blocks west of Northwestern campus, that are under investigation as of Sept. 28. The landlords and property managers associated with each property were also named on the list.

According to the release, some of these landlords “expressed great concern” due to allegations that these violations could potential threaten the safety of tenants.

The violations were recorded in the previous years and have not been officially investigated by city officials, according to the release. The landlords said they were also not contacted prior to the release of the list Monday.

City spokesman Eric Palmer told The Daily on Wednesday afternoon the city has no comment.

Read the full statement below:

Evanston, ILL. (October 5, 2011) – Several property owners have expressed great concern that officials from the city of Evanston placed their rental properties on a list of properties under investigation for “Brothel Law” occupancy violations.

Monday night, the city released a list of 52 properties under investigation as of Sept. 28, citing building code and zoning violations concerning the safety of residents.

“The safety of the tenants living in our properties is our top priority,” said Josh Braun, A & G Property Management. “We have not knowingly and never will allow any of our tenants to live in an unsafe environment.”

According to the city of Evanston, the properties noted on the list were for alleged building code and zoning violations of over occupied residences. The violations were recorded by unidentified observers in 2010, 2009, and in some cases, even earlier. Most allegations were never investigated by the city, and the landlords were never contacted to respond to the allegations. In cases from 2010 and earlier the alleged

“Brothel Law” violators are no longer residents of these properties.

Anyone can lodge a complaint with the city, and it is required to be noted as a violation until proven otherwise. Complaints are not communicated to owners nor is the source of the complaint revealed. Therefore, a complaint can sit on the city__s books for years and the landlord may never know about it.

It was unclear how Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl and Director of Community and Economic Development Steve Griffin could release a list of property violators without full investigation and disclosure as to whether the violation was current or even relative to next year__s tenants heading into the 2012-2013 renting season.

Enforcement of the “Brothel Law,” an ordinance allowing no more than three unrelated persons to live in a single residence, has been an emerging concern in Evanston.

“Why is it safe for more than three related individuals to live together, but having more than three unrelated individuals living together is a life safety issue?” Braun asked. “There is no rationale behind this ordinance other than to antagonize the landlords and students.”

Many landlords work tirelessly with their tenants to ensure they are good neighbors. They strictly enforce penalties, including hefty fines, for unruly parties or any problems reported by neighbors to the police.

“Landlords renting to students are obviously being pushed by the city at the behest of local residents into their ongoing battle with Northwestern University,” Braun said. “It__s very frustrating that neither the city nor the university have done anything to reach out to the landlords.”

Check for an updated story later tonight.