From Illinois Public Radio - News Local/State -

Senate Proposal: All Landlords Could Evict Criminals

Only landlords in large cities can evict residents for committing a crime, but a proposal in the state legislature could extend that right to smaller communities.

Sen. Linda Holmes, a Democrat from Aurora, said her city used to see more than two-dozen murders a year. In 2011, Aurora implemented the "Crime Free Rental Housing" ordinance, and last year Holmes said Aurora's murder rate dropped to zero.  

Holmes proposes giving all municipalities the option to adopt similar ordinances. She said she knows the program isn't for everyone.

“It's not saying they have to have education for their landlords, it's saying they may have it," Holmes said.

Sen. Thomas Cullerton, a Democrat from Villa Park, said small communities are looking for any advantage that would help stop illegal activities.

“They should have the same amount of tools to fight crime, prevent gang violence, prevent gang traffic," Cullerton said. "A lot of times they don't have the resources a larger community has.”

Cullerton said communities would not be required to adopt the housing ordinance. They would just have the option.

Opponents, though, say the program could have unintended consequences for innocent people.

Emily Werth, with the Sargent Shriver center for poverty law, testified before a state senate committee about what happened to an abused woman who reported her husband to police.

“The local police department informed my client's landlord that the husband's arrest had triggered the city's crime free housing ordinance, so the landlord served my client with notice that she and her young daughter would be evicted," Werth said. "Understandably, this left my client terrified of ever seeking out police help again.”

In addition to letting landlords kick out criminal tenants, a crime free housing ordinance could require a landlord take crime prevention training, or mandate background checks on all tenants.