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Skokie Closing in on Multi-Unit Licensing

Skokie may pass a new measure that targets renters in the community. If passed, renters who commit serious or violent crimes will be forced to leave their apartment. Many landlords are upset for a variety of reasons, from fees to their new expected role.

Owners of multi-unit rental buildings in Skokie may have to cough up some extra cash soon as village trustees inched closer to implementing a controversial licensing program for local apartment dwellings.

Supporters and detractors peppered up the normally arduous proceedings at Monday’s village board meeting with spirited speeches on the proposal that would impose an annual $25 per unit fee on the approximate 1,200 multi-unit buildings in Skokie. Village staff and their supporters believe forcing owners to be licensed will lessen crime and keep up property appearances.

After the testimony, the village board agreed to the concept with one amendment as Trustee Don Perille successfully argued co operative buildings as well as owner occupied two flat buildings should be exempt from the proposal. (Condominiums are excluded from the ordinance with the belief that associations can handle their own internal problems.) An ordinance will now be written up with the precise language and is likely to come back before the board for a final vote sometime later this year.

“I do think this is a step forward for the village,” said Trustee Randy Roberts. “This is not solely about crime. It is also about maintaining property standards and the quality of life in our neighborhoods.”

Breaking down the numbers into specific categories, Assistant Village Manager John Lockerby noted 88 percent of the approximate 1,200 village buildings that would be assessed in this program are four units or less. Moreover, there are almost 5,000 units in general.

Landlords or their designated person will be required to attend a training session on village guidelines about ownership. There will be a $10 cost to attend those sessions.

Staff believes this program will cut crime and ensure that building will be neatly maintained if this program is in place.

Landlords will also be asked to have their tenants sign a crime free lease addendum. With crime prevention in mind, the $25 fee will go toward hiring a police officer who will be specifically charged with working within the confines of this program and to check out lighting and landscaping and serving as a go between staff and landlords.

“The intent is to have proper supervision within the village,” Lockerby said. The cost of hiring the additional officer is just over $122,000 and that is approximate amount of money the staff believes will come in as a result of the program.

Amid speculation that this idea had racial overtones, Lockerby said 53% of the renter head of households in Skokie are white according to the 2010 U.S. Census. Asians, blacks and Latinos follow in that order.

“We as the village of Skokie are proud of our diversity and this proposal has nothing to do with race,” Lockerby said.

Not surprisingly, many building owners who say they have not had problems at their dwelling are balking at paying the extra money.

“You are punishing the good landlords,” said building owner Dana Taylor.

Echoing Taylor’s sentiment was fellow owner Floyd Bednarz. “This is an unfair solution to a non-existent problem,” he said. “I have had a crime clause in my contract ever since I owned that building. I do backgrounds checks, too, because I want to make sure that if I do have people in my apartment that they are people that I am going to be proud to have in Skokie.”

But there were some owners who do believe this idea has some merit.

“They are not asking for an unreasonable fee,” said property owner Marda Dunsky. “It can be written off as the cost of doing business.”

Dunsky is a member of the upstart community group Skokie Voice which is advocating for the licensing program to be implemented.

Similar initiative already running in Palatine -

Lockerby said 1,700 communities across the country spanning 43 states have similar programs in place. One of those areas is Palatine.

While crime statistics related to Palatine were not immediately available, Toby Roberts, the Neighborhood Services Field Director of that village, has said the licensing program has worked well in Palatine since its inception in 1990.

“This program is keeping the value of the property up,” Roberts said. “Single family homes that are rented tend not to get the maintenance they need so us being out there tends to help prevent the properties from becoming an eyesore.”

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Palatine has a population of 68,557, according to a 2010 census. Meanwhile, Skokie has approximately 64,784 residents. For more detailed census statistics on Skokie, click here.

Palatine, here.  

Earl Weiss July 18, 2012 at 11:58 AM
Dumb and Dumber. Fees are only part of the issue. There is also the beaurocratic mess that goes with any municipal fee. Be honest and admit that except for raising money this license does absolutlely NOTHING that the village could not do without the license.
J C July 18, 2012 at 01:13 PM
This is so 1984....
Colonel Angus July 18, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Why can't owners just pass the fee onto tenants? What's the big deal?
Earl Weiss July 18, 2012 at 04:55 PM
"Why can't owners just pass the fee onto tenants? What's the big deal?" 1. Tenants are already strapped and there's lots of vacancies. Adding more cost is not a good thing. 2. How much paperwork is involved? Skokie passed a real estate transfer tax. Just using a copy of the State or county form isn't good enough. You must use their Carbonized form, No computer PDF available. Some places like Du Page county just acceped the State form. Now it has all gone electronic for State and County. 3. What other hoops will you have to jump thru? 4. Ever experienced what happens in a Town like Chicago when they claim you need to evict someone for illegal activity? Collasal headache. Won't bore you with details now.
Resident25 July 18, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Colonel Angus, you are obviously not a landlord. You can't imagine how existing tenants are going to react when I renew their leases and tell them it's going to go up $25. This completely cuts into my profit as a landlord. How am I going to ask for a general rent increase when I have this extra $25 that I have to add on as well. Now I'm asking for a $30 or $40 increase??? How would you react if you were a tenant??
J C July 18, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Big brother wants to turn your pockets inside out, And make you responsible for something that is completely out of your control...Maybe soon landlords will be punished for crimes their tenants commit....Orwell would love it..
Go Skokie! July 18, 2012 at 07:59 PM
When I'm going to work every morning at 7, because I have to pay the rent!!!, I don't see any of them....they sleep, but in the afternoon, who is barbecuing (with steaks bought with food stamps) ??? untill midnight?? Guess !
Colonel Angus July 18, 2012 at 09:12 PM
Colonel Angus stands corrected. Back to the Deep South with my tail tucked 'tween my legs, go I... :)
h m July 18, 2012 at 10:14 PM
Resident25, I understand that the fee is $25 per unit. That equates to $2.09 per month. So that $30 or $40 per month increase would be $33 or $43 per month and not $55 to $65 per month.
Will Stokes July 18, 2012 at 11:01 PM
Does anything in this address codes of occupancy that relate to numerous unrelated people living in a single unit? It is becoming common in parts of the city for slumlords to rent a single apartment to 2 or 3 families - usually impoverished immigrants.
Tom Gross July 19, 2012 at 01:36 AM
It's actually illegal to have 2 families living in one home or unit in Skokie.
Tom Gross July 19, 2012 at 01:38 AM
I hope the criminal clause included the children of the household. I don't really think that much of the crime is being committed by adults. If it doesn't, I don't see it helping much. If it does, maybe it will help people become better parents.
Sallie Posniak September 04, 2012 at 11:22 AM
We own an owner occupied 2-flat. It certainly would be unfair for us [and others like us] to have to pay for 2 units, when only one is a rental
Sallie Posniak September 04, 2012 at 11:24 AM
Another tax , not fair
Martina Natoma June 13, 2013 at 03:55 PM
PALATINE ILLINOIS IS THE WORST PLACE TO DO BUSINESS. IF YOU ARE BLACK YOU CAN PLAN ON GETTING HARASSED BY THE LOCAL POLICE AND GOVERNMENT.

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