Landlord: "Village Seems to Think I Should be the Police Department"

A new measure proposes that landlords pay $25 per unit per year so a new police officer could patrol areas with multi-family homes. The village says 10 percent of emergency calls come from such areas and other towns already implement similar programs.

If Skokie is going to require property owners to pay a license for each individual unit, the village is going to endure a lot of resistance from landlords. That was the message from the meeting Wednesday night and it will likely remain that way for some time.

The village announced last week that it’s beginning to consider a “licensing” program for apartment owners. The new measure would require them to pay $25 per unit on an annual basis in addition to a $10 fee for a certified owner. Believing this is an “evolution” of existing village policies, the stated goal of the program is to increase cooperation between owners and the village, as well as the police. The idea is that it will keep the community cleaner and safer.

With approximately 1,200 multi-unit buildings in Skokie, and a corresponding 5,000 units, village officials believe the money raised by the fee will pay for an additional officer on the police force.

Village officials said similar programs are in place in many other parts of the Chicago area.

At Wednesday night’s Public Safety Commission meeting, officials said that for the past five years approximately 10 percent of emergency calls come from Skokie’s multi-unit buildings. The prevention of crime aspect was a theme that was emphasized during Wednesday’s meeting.

The role of the proposed officer -

Specifically, the role of the new police officer would be totally dedicated to working on buildings and ensuring that landlords are taking proper care of their property.

“That person would work hand in hand with the property standards inspector,” said Police Chief Anthony Scarpelli. “It would be their full time job. Right now we don’t have anybody.”

Scarpelli added down the road there could be additional officers added if it was deemed necessary.

Another crime fighting technique incorporated into this program will be owners will be required to have potential renters sign a crime-free lease addendum as building owners will also be required to take a training session to get village feedback as to what is the best way to be a landlord.

If the village finds that a landlord is violating the license agreement, a rental license could be suspended.

“The license allows us to deal with an investor or a landlord who is not necessarily committed to adhering to the village code,” noted Assistant Village Manager John Lockerby. “This allows us to deal with it on a license-by-license basis.”

Concerns about the program -

But one building owner was concerned over the new requirements, specifically relating to crime.

“The village seems to think I should be the police department,” said Constantine Theodoreopolous. “I do not want to be renting to drug dealers or rapists or anyone else, but if there is criminal activity taking place, the police should arrest them and put them away. If they do not have enough evidence, where do I have the evidence to evict them?”

Not surprisingly, there weren’t a lot of owners who will too thrilled about having to pay what would at least be $50 a year more, which could be much higher depending on the number of units that in the possession of a landlord.

“Putting additional costs on the operation of residential units is lower the value of the property even more,” said owner Dror Kopernik. “If someone comes and wants to buy a rental property for investment and one of the considerations is the cost and the cost is higher, than the value of the property is lower.”

The fact that other municipalities have a similar program also did not impress  owners.

“Just because all the other towns are doing this ordinance doesn’t mean it’s great or should be applicable in Skokie,” said Richard Toth, an owner of some Skokie properties.

Some renters and a representative of Skokie Voice – the upstart community group – voiced their support of the proposal.

Nothing is official

More than once it was stated the idea was still in the planning stages and late in the meeting it was moved to have another public hearing on the matter in front of the same committee. Eventually, the proposal could land in the lap of the village board.

That seems to be some time away, but village staff certainly wants something to happen.

“Well maintained property is something that is very much appreciated,” Lockerby said. “One of the global benefits of this program is for people to have pride in their community.”

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Mosthated April 20, 2012 at 12:24 PM
Illinois governments are nothing but a bunch of thieves....why some residents should pay more than others............
Hank April 20, 2012 at 01:10 PM
The police should provide free background check for all potential renters at the land lords request.
Sarah April 20, 2012 at 01:33 PM
Couldn't the landlords include the fee in the rent and it will be paid by the tenant. If they are section 8 it will get paid by the government anyay.
Ruth H April 20, 2012 at 02:20 PM
Police Chief: "There is NO CORRELATION between section 8 housing and crime." June 24, 2010. OH REALLY MR SCARPELLI? VILLAGE OF SKOKIE? I got an idea, why don't you get rid of all of us Section 8 people. Would that appease you and SKOKIE VOICE? Ugh.
Skokie Mike April 20, 2012 at 03:09 PM
I think "section 8" is Skokie Slang for black people. Very unfortunate. Half the people who live in section 8 housing are seniors. And why does this new officer the landlords responsibility? Shouldn't crime in general be the community's responsibility? This smells funny.
david April 21, 2012 at 02:10 AM
Notice that they describe the officer working hand in hand with the inspectors. This has nothing to do with safety. It is just another way to go after people for money by scrutinizing living conditions.
Earl Weiss April 21, 2012 at 10:42 AM
1. Chicago has the same type of stupid ordinance. They want landlords with no police powers to enforce the law. Makes it particularly tough with the laws that favor tenants. 2. 10% of calls come from the 5000 rental units? If thats an average of 2 people per unit (probably more) thats 10,000 people of Skokie's 63,000 total population or about 16%. Seems like 16% of the population generates 10% of the calls, and this is a bad thing?
Bradley Johnson April 21, 2012 at 03:08 PM
good point! why should i have to spend my tax dollars to pay police men to take care of crime in buildings owned by land lords that do not make sure that scum and criminals do not live there? how about the land lords pay, because its their fault! if they didn't allow scum to move in then we wouldn't be having this conversation. A lot of land lords do not live in their buildings and let them fall into crap positions.
Bradley Johnson April 21, 2012 at 03:11 PM
how does it smell funny. you crack me up. i don't mind having my tax dollars go to police to stop crime. but i do care if it is preventable to some extent to stop the crime. land lords should have to pay because it is their fault that bad people rent from them. if they weren't scum and greedy we wouldn't be in this mess. they just want to make money for the most part and except for the good land lords they are bad
David Zornig April 21, 2012 at 03:59 PM
The only flaw in the relationship between Section 8 and landlords, is the failure of either to insure that the legal leaseholders and their immediate families, are the ONLY tenants residing in any given unit. It is the presence of unauthorized tenants, also residing in units designed for less that creates overcrowding, that invites crime. Making even the legal leaseholders victims themselves. That is the criteria that should be addressed in any proposed changes. Not charging additional money for something the Police should be doing anyway. Less unauthorized tenants = less crime. The proposed "licensing" fees is just throwing more money at a problem, instead of taking chronological steps to correct it. Try being proactive Skokie, instead of just copying other towns.
Earl Weiss April 21, 2012 at 09:18 PM
I am curious Mr. Johnson. HJow many residential rental units do you own, and for how long have you owned them?
Bradley Johnson April 22, 2012 at 05:51 PM
I do not disagree that having 16% making 10% of the calls is bad. However, if the calls can be prevented with some regulation or be handled in a better manner, then why not do it? Also we should look at the types of crimes committed by area along with percent of crimes. Oh and the population is 66,559
Bradley Johnson April 22, 2012 at 05:51 PM
I do not disagree that having 16% making 10% of the calls is bad. However, if the calls can be prevented with some regulation or be handled in a better manner, then why not do it? Also we should look at the types of crimes committed by area along with percent of crimes. Oh and the population is 66,559
Earl Weiss April 22, 2012 at 10:55 PM
Mr. Johnson, It sessms you are Fastidious for accuracy. That would make the percentage about 15%. Please answer the previous question. How many rental units to you own or manage and for how long. What type of regulation do you propose and how would it be enforced in light of existing tenant's rights ordinances.
Carmen L Mercado April 25, 2012 at 04:42 PM
They are saying LANDLORDS with multi units. YES< They should pay. The Landlords should be very selective in their tenants. Check back ground on all would be tenants. That's how it should be. Not rent to just anyone because they need the money. I agree have Landlords with multi units pay.
Carmen L Mercado April 25, 2012 at 04:44 PM
I agree Bradley Johnson!!
Earl Weiss April 25, 2012 at 05:02 PM
Well, Ms. Mercado, I will ask the same questions I asked of Mr. Johnson, as yet unanswered: 1. What is your experience with rental units? How many do you own or manage and for how long, or do you represent owners and managers? 2. If 15% of the population generates 10% of the Police calls, why is this a bad thing? 3. Please provide in detail what types of checks should be done and what types of results would landlords use to refuse a Tenant application without running smack into a dicrimination lawsuit? I have yet to meet a landlord who wants criminal activity on their property. It's not some idealistic vision. They know it's bad business on many levels.
Skokie1 April 26, 2012 at 03:11 AM
Once again, we are trying to punish a group, for the possible misdeeds of a select few. By far, most landlords are looking to try and find good, well mannered tenants. They do less wear and tear, pay their rent on time, respect others and the building. But if you get one out of a few hundred landlords that decides to run the building dry, renting out to criminals, not maintaining the building, not paying the mortgage or taxes, etc, that one landlord can do a tremendous amount of damage. Not just in crime in the area, but also in making it harder for all the other landlords to find decent tenants. Then you get the city wanting to charge EVERY landlord a fee as that is somehow going to solve this problem. That money could be better spent in keeping the building maintained and looking nice. What happens if this idea gets enacted and crime stays the same or goes up. Then what? Who will then be responsible?
Larry April 26, 2012 at 04:07 AM
Your statistic on seniors, Mike, holds as much for people in public housing as for those taking Section 8 vouchers. Thus, according to your assessment, Skokie residents should be no more wary of erecting a new Cabrini Green on the first available plot of land in Skokie, than of the proliferation of section 8 vouchers. Both are benign if the number of seniors makes it so as you claim. Is Cabrini Green "slang" for black people? Shame on anyone who thinks that way but isn't there also some shame due to the fool who thinks it insignificant that Cabrini Green was host to the most depraved levels of debauchery and violent crime? It was a model of care for the poor for awhile. Section 8 is that model now. The charge that a concern over (and fear of,) crime is just "slang" for racism/bigotry is highly offensive to those of us who have been victims of the crime while also cherishing our ethnically/racially mixed lives here in Skokie. I'm sorry to upset your "progressive" mindset with that dose of reality, but let (God forbid) you become a victim too and I guarantee your mindset will undergo an adjustment. Sorry to disturb your "progressive" mindset with a tiny dose of reality
Go Skokie! July 18, 2012 at 08:03 PM
Yes ! That's true! I'm with you.
Karen Woolents September 28, 2012 at 07:07 PM
We had a terrific neighborhood until the large appt. building on Christiana and Main went to section 8 not long ago. The change in the area is stunning, to say the least. As I type this at 2 pm, my daughter called me to the window to see 2 young girls who are obviously hokkers, dressed in basically lingerie, leave the building and they are now walking up and down Main street. Drugs are sold openly on the corner, men are sitting outside talking until 4 am, cars coming and going, honking, people yelling. This was NOT like this a few months ago. I have called the police at least 8 times, then I gave up. There is a pack of kids (I won't mention their ethnicity lest I be branded a racist, which I am not) on bikes at all hours, with backpacks, the police/fire are down on the next block at least 2 times a week and that is all section 8, too. One of the appt. buildings is a known drug house. So yes, what is the landlord thinking, and why dont they do something? Landlords are people, too and can be just as fed up or afraid of their tenants as we have become living by these people. I pay enough in taxes that no one should have to pay some kind of "protection fee' to have the police do their job. It is not up to private citizens to put themselves in a dangerous position just to "out' these people that have to live someplace just like the rest of us and them just happen to be troublemakers, drug dealers or worse. All the cops have to do is sit on this corner for 2 hours and see


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