Serving Skokie rental property owners, renters and homeowners
Frequently Asked Questions
I've been seeing yard signs and posters saying "Stop Skokie's Tenant Tax". What is this all about?
The Village is trying to quietly rush through a new ordinance (again) previously titled "an ordinance amending chapter 22 by adding article XIV" and now titled the "Neighborhood Integrity Ordinance" (a title that creates even more obfuscation) that among other things would create a new tax on each apartment in Skokie. They've veiled it as a tax on landlords, but it will surely be passed along to tenants. And since the tax will also be levied on vacant apartments, those living in larger buildings will likely have to share a larger part of the burden to cover the cost of any vacancies.
"On January 6th, 2014, Skokie Village Trustees passed this ordinance. In April they began sending out letters requesting landlords to register - of course going back on their pledge to waive fees for landlords already in compliance. If you choose to register, and pay the fees, we recommend providing only the minimum required information. Providing tenant information may put you in jeopardy of a lawsuit from your tenant. Watch this site for more information as it becomes available. Note: Some of the information provided on this page may have changed with the final draft of the approved ordinance."
Why is the city doing this?
The simple answer is to collect more revenue for the police department. The Village says the money will be used to hire an additional police officer, who will be assigned to teaching property management classes & providing security audits of multi-unit buildings.
I heard that this proposal was intended to weed out bad tenants?
The best deterrent to bad tenants, is an owner occupied building and active, involved landlords. Rather than targeting abandoned properties, or those managed by negligent landlords, this ordinance has the opposite effect of punishing the very best landlords with fees and regulations. If this ordinance passes, it will likely chase good landlords and tenants out of the village, leaving more abandoned properties as this ordinance will make the sale of rental property in Skokie very undesirable.
As a renter, is it just the additional fees that will effect me?
There's a building near me that seems to be a source of criminal activity. Will this new law help?
No. First, the ordinance does not apply to any bank owned properties, properties in foreclosure, rented condos, or properties owned, managed or rented by government or social agencies. It only applies to buildings managed by law abiding individuals that take the time to register. Second it takes no punitive action against the supposedly criminal tenants (other than increased rent). Instead it punishes the landlord. The landlord must absorb hundreds of dollars in legal fees and court costs, plus spend at least several days in court to try and evict the tenant, who can then simply move into any other apartment in Skokie. The real question we ask is why the Village doesn't already take action against known negligent landlords, abandoned buildings and criminal activity. Our group has repeatedly reported these types of problems to police and village officials only to be rebuffed.
I'm a Senior Citizen on a fixed income who has lived in Skokie for over 40 years. I own a 2-Flat, but live in one unit while my child lives in the other. I collect no rent. Does this effect me?
Unfortunately yes. You will be required to apply for a renter's license (+fee), take a property management class (+fee), pay an annual Tenant Tax on your second apartment - even if the apartment is vacant, have the police do a security audit of your home (+fee), and meet several other yearly regulatory requirements.
I own/rent a home or condo. Does this effect me?
Most likely. All townhomes, co-ops, and single family rental properties are included. Some condos are currently exempt, but the Village has stated that phase two of this ordinance will include all rental properties.
I own my own home. Does this effect me?
In many many ways: The good neighbors who owned & lived in the two flat next to you for the last 30 years will flee the city to avoid this ordinance. The resale value of apartment buildings will go down, because no one will want to buy property in a town where they need to be licensed and pay annual fees for the privilege of renting and the fear that their license can be revoked at any time - making their apartments unrentable and their investment worthless while they continue to remain responsible for mortgage & tax payments. Good landlords, who keep their yards neat and keep an eye out for troublesome activity, but who are barely making ends meet, will be forced into foreclosure. (If you don't believe this, read the article below and statements made by property owners at the last public hearing, which are posted on the Village's web site.) All the above will quickly lead to an overall reduction in Skokie property values, deterioration of the housing stock, an increase in bad tenants (driven by the unaffected remaining negligent landlords, abandoned properties and lack of good tenants willing to rent here) and increases in criminal activity.
What can I do to stop this?
Put up a yard or window sign, wear a button, talk to your landlord, warn your neighbors, join SILA, contact the Mayor and the Village Trusteesand let them know you will remember their actions at election time, but most importantly, show up at the Village Board meetings* and let your voice be heard.
* The Skokie Village Board meets twice each month. Meetings are held at Skokie Village Hall, 5127 Oakton Street, on the first and third Monday of each month at 8 p.m. (with some exceptions.) Meeting agendas can be found online at the Village's web site. The meetings are also televised at noon and 8 p.m. on the Thursday, Saturday & Tuesday following a meeting.
Show the community your support. Buy a "Stop Tenant Tax" sign for your business, apartment or home - only $5 each. Already have your sign? Send us a picture of the sign in your window or in front of your property, and receive a free ad on our Business page. Simply use our Contact Us page to let us know how many signs you want.
"Landlords Pack Village Hall" to protest proposed new regulations, fees & fines, by Mike Isaacs of the Skokie Review, September 5, 2012