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"Crime Free" Rental Housing Ordinances

Legal and Practical Consequences of Crime Free Rental Housing and Nuisance Property Ordinances

The Cost of Being "Crime Free"

There is a growing trend of municipalities in Illinois and across the nation pursuing crime free rental housing and/or nuisance property ordinances. However, these ordinances can often have very costly consequences for tenant families, landlords, and the whole community. They can reduce the supply of rental housing, displace crime victims and others who need to reach out to the police for help, chill reporting of crime to the police in the first place, increase the number of vacant properties and the rate of family homelessness, deny persons with disabilities the opportunity to access housing that is integrated into the community, and prevent persons with criminal records from finding stable housing, among other concerns. When municipalities adopt and enforce these ordinances, they are exposing themselves to legal liability for housing discrimination and other violations of tenants’ and landlords’ rights. This report explores the myriad problems generated by these local laws, and what municipalities should do to address them.

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