Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Landlords uniting against continued ‘brothel law’ enforcement

Several Evanston property owners are uniting in opposition to the city’s controversial “brothel law” enforcement as the occupancy restriction once again comes into public focus.

In a statement released Wednesday, property manager Josh Braun called tenant safety a “top priority,” dismissing implied claims he and other landlords have allowed renters to inhabit unsafe living spaces.

The statement was sent to The Daily by Ezra McCann, a public relations specialist retained by some members of the property owner group.

“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 in the news release. “There is no rationale behind this ordinance other than to antagonize the landlords and students.”

Eric Palmer, Evanston’s community information coordinator, said the city had no comment on the landlords’ statement Wednesday.

At least a dozen property managers gathered Wednesday afternoon before authorizing the statement’s release, according to accounts from the meeting’s attendees.

The landlords also expressed concern about the city’s recent disclosure of 52 properties currently under investigation for code violations, said Nancy Gabriel, who oversees the management of more than 250 locations in Evanston.

She was also present at Wednesday afternoon’s meeting, which she described as “very focused” and attended by “very professional people.”

“They had an agenda, went through it, and have a plan for how to handle this,” Gabriel recalled in an email Wednesday night. “They are not going to sit back and cry.”

The statement questioned both the city’s motives in revealing the list and the credibility of the list itself.

After several landlords approached city officials about the index’s methodology, they were told the listed properties contained “alleged building code and zoning violation of over occupied residences,” according to the statement.

The group also claimed in the statement that most of those allegations were never investigated by the city and never relayed to the affiliated landlords.

Because anyone can file a complaint with the city – and complaints are considered violations until filed otherwise – many unverified complaints comprise the disclosed list, according to the statement.

Gabriel said some landlords learned for the first time Wednesday their properties were on the city’s list, which was recently shared with University officials to inform future renters’ decisions.

Speaking on behalf of Braun, McCann said property managers were “obviously frustrated” the city had not given them a heads-up about their list placement.

“If they aren’t notified, there is no way to fix the problem,” Braun said, according to McCann.

He added there must be open lines of communication among all parties involved, including University officials – something that’s “just not happening.”

The University had no comment Wednesday night.

The property owner group’s next step is unclear.

Gabriel said landlords are busy researching their options and will issue another statement next week.

Braun’s statement stressed property owners’ foremost concern as they challenge city officials.

“Safety obviously is landlords’ top priority,” he said. “They have not and will not allow tenants to live in an unsafe environment.”

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Landlords uniting against continued ‘brothel law’ enforcement