Evanston shifts “just cause” talks to protecting landlords

Introduced clauses that would allow residential landlords to refuse lease renewal

Evanston Shifts “Just Cause” Talks to Landlord Rights
Council members Devon Reid and Bobby Burns (City of Evanston, Getty)

Evanston officials are ramping up discussions regarding a just-cause eviction proposal, as they work to strike a balance between protecting tenants from wrongful evictions while mitigating adverse effects on landlords. 

The city’s Housing and Community Development Committee introduced seven “just causes” that would allow landlords to deny tenants from renewing their leases, the Evanston RoundTable reported

The causes included nonpayment of rent, material noncompliance with lease terms, refusal to accept renewal terms, landlord or family member moving in, conversion to condominiums, significant renovation, and demolition. There were calls in a recent meeting to expand this list, drawing inspiration from policies in Seattle and Colorado.

The majority of the committee, including all four city council members, expressed support for the core just cause policy and indicated a willingness to advance it to the full council after further revisions.

The policy has been under discussion for a year and a half, as part of a broader overhaul of the city’s Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance. The ordinance has been brought up in at least 12 city meetings since January of last year. 

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Discussions primarily focused on balancing the policy’s goals with its potential impacts on the housing market and local landlords. One significant revision, exempting owner-occupied buildings with six or fewer units, received unanimous support. 

Debates arose over the threshold for material noncompliance. Four violations in one year was suggested, but after extensive discussion, that was amended to one major violation or three minor violations. 

The committee spent two and a half hours taking comments and discussing the ordinance at a recent meeting. In the end, they tabled the matter, the outlet reported.

The city of Los Angeles approved just-cause eviction protections in January of last year. The ordinance protects tenants from eviction and provides timelines for paying back rent. Earlier this month, Albany, New York, became the first city in that state to take advantage of the good-cause eviction legislation passed in the state budget. Albany’s ordinance provides rights to lease renewals for tenants in good standing.

—Quinn Donoghue 

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