crime free housing

Crime Free Housing: Problem or Solution?

crime free housingCrime Free Housing, a relatively recent phenomena, has begun to spread through Illinois as well as many other states.  However, what does that mean for local residents?  Why has it proven so divisive?  Sherer Law Offices is here to walk you through why some people are praising the Crime Free Housing initiative while others condemn it.

The Crime Free Housing program is essentially a partnership between the city, landlords, and their tenants.  The program is designed to reduce crime rates around residential rental properties and allow landlords to evict tenants found connected to those crimes.  Property owners do this by placing an addendum into the tenant’s lease that states they will refrain from engaging in all types of illegal activity.  Landlords are also required to attend a seminar held by the local police in order to participate in crime free housing.  At these seminars, landlords are introduced to crime-prevention techniques as well as how to screen and evict tenants that the police believe may be engaged in crime.

In 2011, Collinsville, IL adopted a Crime Free Housing ordinance.[1]  Since then, the Collinsville police department claims there has been a drastic reduction in calls to the police and fewer crimes committed around rental units. Cities throughout Illinois and other states have also claimed to see a drop in crime since adopting these initiatives. However, it has not gone without its critics.

Many people claim that the regulations surrounding crime free housing disproportionately target low-income renters and discourage victims of abuse from contacting the authorities.  This is because under the terminology of most lease addendums for crime free housing, people are subject to eviction if they are connected with the underlying crime, not necessarily if they are the perpetrator. This means if a guest commits a crime while on or near the property you are renting, even if it is a violent crime against you, it is possible you could be evicted for their actions.  Further, certain versions of the Crime Free Housing ordinances allow a landlord to evict a tenant for calling the police too often or for what is later determined by the police to be an unfounded reason.  This aspect of the ordinance can discourage victims of domestic violence from contacting the police for fear of making frequent calls or worry about being evicted if their call is not taken seriously, further perpetuating the ongoing physical and mental abuse.

The ACLU believes that these ordinances may violate the fundamental principal of due process and both federal and state prohibitions against housing discrimination.[2]  This is due to the fact that tenants can be evicted under the ordinances without any kind of trial or legal proceeding regarding their connection to the underlying criminal activity.  Another major cause for concern is that while these ordinances may keep crime down in areas where the crime free housing practices are implemented, they may also lead to an increase in homelessness and spiked crime in other areas of the communities.[3]

If you are a landlord or tenant and would like more information on Crime Free Housing or other matters, contact Sherer Law Offices at (618) 692-6656. 

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[1]https://will.illinois.edu/news/story/crime-free-housing-rules-spread-in-illinois

[2]https://www.aclu-il.org/en/campaigns/crime-free-housing-nuisance-ordinances

[3]https://www.povertylaw.org/clearinghouse/articles/stemming-tide-crime-free-rental-housing-and-nuisance-property-ordinances