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Opinion: Multi-Unit License Is Not the Solution

A letter to the editor on this controversial measure proposed by the village.

Editor's note: The following is an opinion and does not reflect Skokie Patch's beliefs on said issue. If you'd like to submit a counter to this article, please email me at georges@patch.com.

As a landlord and member of the Skokie Independent Landlord Association, I speak for the membership when I state we feel that we are being unfairly targeted by the proposed Tenant/Landlord Tax Licensing Program. I have been a resident of this village for more than 50 years. My family continues to reside in Skokie owning both private and rental properties. 

Over the past 50 years I have witnessed many changes.   Demographic changes, income reduction of many residents and the loss of several major employers are the major ones.   These changes are challenging, and require adjustments in the way the village operates, yet the village has continued to operate like the days of old.   Furthermore, they are now looking to shift some of the blame for these changes on the multifamily property owners throughout the village.

A common interest for all residents of the village is a safe and attractive community.   Multifamily property owners and residents strongly desire this as well. Yet, we have witnessed the decline and viability of Skokie over the past 10 or more years, while neighboring communities and many areas of Chicago have gentrified and grown to attract a more vibrant and economically dynamic community. 

The city is proposing an annual license fee on all apartment units, as well as other regulations.  One of the problems with the village proposal is that a yearly license fee is unnecessary and excessive in  light of the already heavy burden of property taxes and the variety of other taxes property owners pay. The fee is proposed to pay for the hiring of an additional police officer. However, won’t all the residents benefit from increased law enforcement? Shouldn’t the cost be equalized and paid for by all of Skokie’s property owners?

The proposed village licensing fee does nothing to address the decline of Skokie’s neighborhoods. The question remains: Why has the tenant quality declined in the village over the last 10 or so years? If Skokie is such a desirable community, wouldn’t it attract more qualified tenants? The independent landlords do not feel that the village leadership has been keeping up with neighboring towns as far as gentrification and upgrading. This village has done little to attract new business and services. The village leadership has done little to encourage sprucing up the appearance of building facades and other infrastructure.

A question for Skokie residents is this: Once one group is targeted by an unreasonable tax, when does the taxing begin to extend to others such as condo or private homeowners?

This proposal will do nothing to eradicate undesirable residents from our village borders. It does not assist multifamily property owners’ speed up the eviction process. It does not regulate HUD, and CHA group homes that currently reside in Skokie. It does duplicate existing laws and regulatory agencies already in practice within Skokie. 

Speaking for Skokie’s Independent Landlords, join our efforts in defeating unfair taxation.  Join our efforts to work  and collaborate with village government toward making Skokie a safe, desirable, and growing community  for all of its residents.  www.skokielandlord.org

Barbara Kenning
Skokie resident, landlord

Previous covearge on Skokie Patch - 

  • Skokie Closing in on Multi-Unit Licensing
  • Is Skokie's Multi-Unit License A Double Edged Sword? 
  • Landlord: 'Village Seems to Think I Should Be The Police Department'
Frank September 27, 2012 at 01:22 PM
Your anger is misdirected. The reason for decline in the village is the current administration. They have led the decline in the village through poor leadership, the inability to bring business to town, the lack of development downtown. On and on. I think the 25 dollar fee is not going to break the back of any multi unit landlord.
Brian Hickey September 27, 2012 at 02:24 PM
Frank, if it's not so bad why don't you chip in ! This tax is an annual amount of approximately $125,000 extracted from the pockets of about 600 property owners. Ends up being a bit more than $25 eh? $31 Million Dollar Police Station. $20 Million Dollar train station. $15 million dollar H.S. Pool. Ridiculous property taxes and a 5% uititlies tax. Wake up Frank!! You're getting robbed by everybody. We need new village management desperately. 219 is swiping landlord's maintenance and improvement $. A $140 million surplus. Reverse Robin Hood.
Justa6655321 September 27, 2012 at 03:37 PM
This is TAX...we do not need more taxes. Village manager and his puppet like us to believe this new tax will help the people of Skokie by improving buildings and decreasing crime...yeah right, what a joke! This is just the beginning people! At the last village clown hall meeting it was stated by our government of Skokie that this is only phase one of the plan. Homeowners beware....if this passes you are next! That's a fact! Frank it's not just $25 it $25 per unit plus more inspections and the property owner is forced to take a class! AND the ordinance is full of holes anyway! This is just another TAX! I repeat this is just another TAX! What type of Mayor is this that is going to force 70 year old landladys to take a class on something they have been doing for years.....yeah people that is one of the things that will happen. So Frank, do you think this TAX will end with the landlords wallet? The TAX will just be passed down to tenants. Tenants will be forced to live under the threat of higher rent and the fear of eviction...oh yeah...no one from the village has talked about that. Example....single mother of 3 gets into a domestic dispute with her x...the cops come and arrest the father. Now what...under the new ordinance the landlord is forced to evict the mother. Yeah....look into this people. It could happen to you. Neighbor thinks you are playing the music to loud? You could be looking at an eviction. READ people. This is HORRIBLE for ALL the people of Skokie
Tim Pareti September 27, 2012 at 03:45 PM
The Evanston Planning and Development Committee just passed a rental licensing ordinance that would require owners of condos, single family homes and multi-unit buildings with three or more units to obtain an annual license that includes a city inspection every four years. I don't think a rental license will have a positive value impact on properties. And if the city revokes a property owner's license then the landlord would have to evict the tenants. Staff members in Evanston could not clearly explain how the city can evict tenants when they are protected under Illinois eviction laws. You can't just overnight evict a tenant. It's a long court process. Evanston passed a landlord registration requirement in 2008 and less than 60 percent of the landlords ever registered. Evanston has failed to adequately process that program so why does anyone think a licensing requirement would be any different. This is just a way for cities to get more revenue. It's almost guaranteed that if passed in a few years the licensing fee will increase. It does nothing to help alleviate the chronically ailing real estate market. I argue it will only add more strain. For most of us, property is our most prized asset.
Earl Weiss September 27, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Just another example of the Village unfairly shifting it's obligations to others. Fix west Dempster, Claim its an improvement and stick property owners along that strip with the bill even though the maintenance was a public obligation benefitting more than just those businesses. Vacancies increeased. Village sidewalk next to your property needs repair? They try to get you tto pay half, even though it doesn't belong to you and you aren't the exclusive user. In what reality is this equitable? What's next? Street light in front of your house goes out - You have to pay to replace it? Same with pothole repair? Hope I did not give them any ideas.
Troy September 27, 2012 at 04:10 PM
I think goverments and governmental entities have to realize their citizens and business owners can't afford another tax increase. Skokie can't keep selling that they haven't increased their property tax in years when they've added new taxes and increased those. Skokie fought for years to get rid of the tax paying transmission shop on Dempster and Niles Center to bring in 30 new jobs from Oberweiss. All the while, Klein Tools is leaving with 200 jobs and Skokie's economic director had no idea Klein was thinking of leaving. Something is wrong here. There is no doubt in my mind we need more Skokie Police officers. However, it should come from the reallocation of collected funds rather than driving the good citizens and businesses out of town with more taxes.
Earl Weiss September 27, 2012 at 05:06 PM
" Skokie fought for years to get rid of the tax paying transmission shop on Dempster and Niles Center to bring in 30 new jobs from Oberweiss" good point. Skokie spends over $1.7 Million to acquire demo and clean up property so they can Sell to Oberweiss fo $400K. The extra tax $ from Oberweiss may retire $300K if we are lucky. So, the City throws away $1 Million never to be recovered, and now wants a $25.00 a unit tax? The interest on the $1 Million at 3? would be $30,000 which would cover this $25.00 cost for 1200 rental units FOREVER!
Sweetg September 27, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Frank, Is $25 per apartment a burden? Consider these two most common scenarios: 1) In a large multi-unit building, don't you suppose the landlord is just going to pass this apartment tax along to each tenant? Is it a burden? How do you feel about the village tacking an additional $25 onto your rent? 2) A family that has lived in Skokie for many years, owns a three flat. Mom & Dad are seniors living on the first floor, their married child & grand children live on the second floor. The basement apartment is just used for storage or play space. Is it a burden for these seniors to pay an apartment tax? Not to mention the nuisance of annual registration, being forced to take a property management class and additional property inspections. Almost every neighbor I have falls into one of these two scenarios. Please read the ordinance before you support it. Visit www.skokielandlord.org to learn more.
Justa6655321 September 27, 2012 at 05:16 PM
$270,000 is our village manager's salary! $270,000 is our village manager's salary! Plus differed compensation AND an interest free loan on his house! CUT the FAT in Skokie! NO new taxes! Our Village manager's $270,000 is in the top 10 of ALL salarys for positions like his! Why don't we start there and cut his pay in half....in a time when most people have taken cuts or been laid off he is making $270,000+ for what? Great idea....let's raise more money by taxing landlords.... People the thieves are already in office! They have been taking and taking and taking from the good people of Skokie for far to long! NO NEW TAX!
Skokian September 27, 2012 at 06:59 PM
From a landlord's perspective, I may not be necessarily against the $25 annual fee. My issue is that this ordinance does not give rights to landlord to evict bad tenants instead it punishes landlord for bad tenants while allowing village to pocket the licensure fee. Landlord still have to follow HUD regulations when evicting tenant. Tenants can still live months rent free while in litigation and be nuisance to neighbors. If the ordinance add new regulation that supersede HUD regulation then I am willing to listen. In other words, give more teeth to current HUD regulation dealing with rental occupancy.
Patch reinstates deleted accounts! September 27, 2012 at 08:26 PM
Way I see it, this is the ‘why is everybody always picking on me’ defense. I say “Why not you?”. You say you’re being targeted by an unfair tax. Do you think the most recent tax increase on cigarettes was fair? I think most smokers would say it was unfair, while most non-smokers love it. The crux here is rental properties housing people that are committing crimes, thereby taking police away from ‘routine patrol’; I.e., ALL OF THE REST OF US. There is no doubt that some areas need all the police they can get. But, how will I benefit from one additional police officer that’s going to be specifically for multi-unit housing if I don’t live in multi-unit housing? I don’t get any of YOUR rental income that you’re collecting, yet you’re ‘taking’ away from me. Why is the Village completely to blame for who you rent to? The Village can “attract” the best & brightest, but how is that going to get rid of the scumbags that you are choosing to rent to? I’m sure there are wonderful landlords. But, as reported right here on Patch, too often the criminals are living in multi-unit housing. Now that I’ve read your opinion & given mine, how about suggestions to improve this very specific situation, including what you will do, rather than just saying ‘no’?
Brian September 27, 2012 at 10:42 PM
1) "The crux here is rental properties housing people that are committing crimes" 2) " Why is the Village completely to blame for who you rent to? The Village can “attract” the best & brightest, but how is that going to get rid of the scumbags that you are choosing to rent to? " 3) "too often the criminals are living in multi-unit housing. " Lets look at your 'thought process here me thinks 2 (not). 1) News flash, from coast to coast, since the beginning of time, people lower on the socioeconomic ladder have rented. Amazingly, the thieves and muggers don't move into million dollar homes here in Skokie. 2) I don't know of any landlords blaming the village for tenant problems they might have. You see as landlords, we want all the problems we can get. It keeps life interesting. And we have a hard and fast rule, no mugging or burglarizing the landlord. Uh uh. 3) Let's fix the fact that too often thugs live in apartments. Let's rent more single family homes or perhaps you have a spare room to let? Nice logic there me thninks... Top to bottom. Oh and btw, sometimes we actually don't recognize scum when we rent to it. We just cash our checks and watch Oprah if you haven't already figured that out ....wicked laughter, haaaa haaaa haaaa haaa ha. And the only place 'scumbags' live in mansions...well that's within a short commute from Wall Street. Sharks with lasers Dr. Evil.
Brian September 27, 2012 at 10:58 PM
But in the vein of constructive suggestion, How about the park district removes the basketball hoops in parks where thugs set up shop? How about police light changes to police real and when landlords call on park curfew violations, they actually get a citation that carries a fine. Or how about on the third police call to a park, the hoop comes down for 30 days and we give the park back to more considerate residents who don't feel they "own you". That might take back some of the neighborhood turf. No reason for adolescent thugs to be in the parks then, and the cops can tell em' "hey it's a tot park now...pack it up." Or how about our stingy but stupid village management puts some dough back into the community in the form of block grants for residents who already invested here in a big way and who pay three times the property taxes you pay. Skip the Taj Mahal police station, skip the unneeded $20 million train station (that Skokians got for a bargain $6 million). Admit that the Science and Tech Park was a dud from the word "go" @ 72% leased 7 1/2 years later and stop throwing money at it. Another quarter million just this past June. And drop the TIFs that have not produced any results along with the matching construction grants for the retailers that "aren't coming". Why not go for gentrification? The most effective way to push undesirables out. Make it economically impossible. If you actually paid attention to the op ed it was mentioned right there.
Justa6655321 September 28, 2012 at 12:06 AM
At the last village meeting the junior village manager specifically stated that residential homes in Skokie are in their future plan to include in this ordinance! This will effect everyone! It's a tax on everyone! Do you think they are every going to lower the tax? Never! $25 per is just the beginning! "I don’t get any of YOUR rental income that you’re collecting, yet you’re ‘taking’ away from me." ....are you kidding me? landlords pay significantly more in taxes than single family homes so...wake up "me thinks 2" How about we lower the village manager Al riggatoni's salary from $270,000 to something more appropriate? Cut it by LESS than Half and we have another police officer....how's that for constructive? We don't need another tax! What we need is new leadership!
Justa6655321 September 28, 2012 at 12:09 AM
"Amazingly, the thieves and muggers don't move into million dollar homes here in Skokie." and Mr. Brian....news flash....yeah the thieves and muggers DO move into million dollar homes in Skokie...they are just called the Mayor, Trustees and Village Manager and his trusty side kick
Patch reinstates deleted accounts! September 28, 2012 at 12:46 AM
It's always nice to have an educated & respectful conversation with others.
Brian September 28, 2012 at 02:29 AM
That's the best you have? Sure . Why not just take all the evil landlords properties by eminent domain. You and Skokie Voice seem to have figured out how to solve "our landlord problem" Too bad none of you are landlords and that neither of you bothered to include landlords in dialogue. Too bad you both really don't have even a rudimentary understanding of Skokie's new problems or the economics and mechanics of managing rental properties. Too bad you're all so damned politically correct. It's too bad you aren't willing to roll up your shirt sleeves and really fix this problem. With stronger policing, not more. With a park district that needs to understand this is not the homogeneous Judeo-Christian Skokie of the early 50's. I can fix your problems for you too. Harden your properties as the police would have landlords harden theirs. Put burglar bars on your doors and windows, install gobs of glass block windows, buy a large angry dog, don't go out in the evening, carry mace or a bat, always park your car in a locked garage at night, take your valuables and spare check books to your safety deposit box at one of Skokie's zillions of banks, get a home alarm installed, and most of all, cherish what a great place Skokie is to live in and our unmatched diversity. You're welcome. Just trying to be constructive like you. Feel better now that I have solved YOUR problem for you?
Sweetg September 28, 2012 at 04:39 AM
Let's try and get this conversation back on track. The new ordinance calls for the creation of a citizens advisory council. The council is to be made up of landlords, tenants, village representatives and other stakeholders. Unfortunately, the ordinance calls for the council to be created after the fact. I suggest we put this council together first, to create SANE & REASONABLE dialog in order to create a new ordinance that everyone can support. Ideally, the council can go even further and discuss other ways the village and it's residents can work to gether to improve our neighborhoods. We are all interested in the same thing - making Skokie a better, safer community. If you agree, please voice your support for creating this council at www.Skokielandlord.org
Sandrina Roc September 28, 2012 at 05:20 AM
Mayor Van Dusen announced that he's running again. In my opinion we need a change in leadership. Skokie's gotten pretty stale.
Barbarra Kenning September 29, 2012 at 01:57 PM
The Skokie Independent. Landlord. Association. and Skokievoice. have the same goals. Both organizations are made up by long term stakeholders who want to see increased government. responsiveness increased vision attraction. Of business and a safer community.I believe it is time to work with one another in efforts to improve our village. Barbara Kenning

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