Landlords in Evanston, Illinois – the home of Northwestern University, have been struggling for some time now against a crack-down by city officials opposing student housing.
Only the officials aren’t calling it that.
Using an archaic law that restricts brothels in neighborhoods, the city has issued a ban on rentals which house more than three roommates. Officials insist that the recent obsession with rental property regulation has to do with safety–too many students are complaining about conditions in off-campus housing.
Previously, however, they claimed the law was needed to rein in noisy parties.
As a result, local landlords find that they are subject to frequent inspections, fees and public humiliation as their property addresses are posted on violator lists.
Landlords in Evanston have attended city council meetings en masse, but now they are taking a different approach: they’ve hired a public relations firm to counter the bad press they’ve been receiving about unsafe living conditions.
In a statement provided to a local newspaper, the PR firm makes the argument that if it is safe for three related persons to live together, there is no reason to believe it is unsafe to have three unrelated persons living together.
According to the paper, the city has not responded to the argument.
Landlords are angered because the city has publicly identified properties under investigation for alleged code violations prior to confirmation of those violations. According to the report, these violations include the new occupancy standards. Some landlords complained they while the information was shared with the nearby university, they were never notified of the alleged violations.
According to the statement on behalf of the landlords, tenant safety is a top priority.
Students have previously protested the new occupancy restrictions because if forces them farther away from campus, which they say puts them in harms way as they walk or bicycle home at night. Others have said there is security in living with others, and that they can’t afford the large off-campus rental houses without more roommates.
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