Landlord workshop stresses rights, regulations


Amanda Gilbert/The Daily Northwestern

Brandon Saunders, director of advocacy organizing at the Interfaith Housing Center, gives a presentation at the Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center. Saunders spoke about the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants in the rental market, and said most rental conflicts can be avoided with education about regulations and policies.

Amanda Gilbert, Reporter

Conflicts between landlords and tenants can be resolved by understanding basic rental housing policies and regulations, regional rental housing experts advised at a Thursday night workshop.

Nearly 20 people attended the rental housing workshop at the Morton Civic Center hosted by the city and the Interfaith Housing Center of the Northern Suburbs, a nonprofit dedicated to resolving landlord-tenant disputes.

Brendan Saunders, Interfaith’s director of advocacy organizing, was the event’s main speaker, informing those in attendance about rights and regulations in rental housing agreements.

“People need to respect their tenants and respect their landlords,” Saunders said. “They need to understand what their obligations are.”

Often, the problems that arise between landlords and tenants result from  misunderstandings, with the most common being confusion over security deposits and the right for landlords to access their rental units, he said.

Saunders said he received a call from a woman who said she didn’t like her landlord because he wanted to inspect the house around dinnertime, a problem she could have solved by communicating with him and scheduling a more convenient appointment.

“That’s what it comes down to,” he said. “Knowing what you can request and do.”

Attendees at Thursday’s workshop also brought up the matter of the city council’s decision to postpone the landlord licensing ordinance Monday. Saunders recommended that people voice their concerns to their aldermen.

Mary Ellen Poole, the city’s housing planner, said she hoped the workshop will make housing more welcome to prospective Evanston tenants.

She said many tenants call with complaints about security deposits, evictions and rent increases — complaints that she almost always sends to Saunders.

After the meeting, Poole said the main takeaway was that tenants and landlords must all do their due diligence, meaning the two parties need to set up good rules and learn their rights before a rental agreement is signed.

“Landlords need to clarify what they want,” she said. “And tenants need to follow them.”