Tenants need sensible protections, not outrageous demands

I have been a renter my entire life. There are ways to protect tenants and provide more affordable housing.

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A rental sign in Chicago.

A rental sign in Chicago.

Sun-Times media

I support common-sense protections for renters. As a renter myself, for my entire adult life, I know how horrible it can be to have a bad landlord. Fortunately, I have only had one or two bad experiences in the 30-plus years I have been renting apartments.

However, some of the demands by extreme left-wing activists on this matter are not warranted or justifiable. This is why the Just Cause Eviction Ordinance is stuck in committee and will likely stay there until the more outrageous demands are stripped.

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One good thing is the timetables and requirements for terminating a lease. If a property owner/landlord is selling their property or choosing to move into it themselves, a 90-day written notice, filed with the court and presented to the tenant at the same time in order to be valid and documented by both sides, is adequate.

Landlords in this instance should not be required to pay anything to the tenant. The landlord owns the property, tenants do not. Ninety days is more than enough time to find a place and get your affairs in order to move. Requiring landlords to pay huge moving expenses will come out of higher rents, not the landlord’s pocket. This will further make housing unaffordable for lower-income tenants.

Free legal representation for tenants should only be for those at or below the national poverty line. Those above the poverty line should pay on a sliding scale.

The government should be working with the private sector to build new affordable housing, and renovate existing housing, that would be available to those earning under a certain household income — but not so low that only the poorest of the poor are eligible.

There should be a state hotline for any renter to call and file a complaint about unsafe or unsanitary conditions, and an adequately staffed department in each city and town in Illinois to inspect properties.

There should be expeditious ways to get rid of bad tenants for the safety of other tenants not breaking the rules. Also, month-to-month leasing is a trap that provides nothing. Time to end it.

I sincerely doubt that meaningful and sensible legislation will get passed. The above ideas might at least have a shot.

Jeff W Barnes, Bourbonnais

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