GRANITE CITY -- Businessman Bill Campbell, who owns various rental properties in Granite City, is looking to shed some light on the city's crime-free housing ordinance and what he describes as negative consequences for tenants and landlords.
Campbell said he has been told by police that certain renters must go, after a friend of the tenant's teenage son - described as an "unauthorized guest" - allegedly committed theft.
He said that parents and the teenage son realized their young house guest had outstayed his welcome, but they asked him to leave, and he did so.
"They still want to evict the family," Campbell told the Record as he detailed how Granite City's ordinance has affected how he does business.
Granite City Mayor Ed Hagnauer did not respond to multiple attempts to contact him. The police officer who is in charge of the crime-free ordinance did not respond to calls. No one else from the city responded to the Record.
Under the ordinance a "single violation of the provisions of this addendum shall be deemed a serious violation and material noncompliance with the lease."
It continues, "lt is understood and agreed that a single violation of any of the provisions listed above shall be good cause for termination of lease, unless otherwise provided by law. Proof of violation shall not require criminal conviction, but shall be by a preponderance of the evidence."
Campbell believes his problems began when he failed to evict a tenant shortly after the ordinance was introduced in 2009. He suggested that if someone within city government or police wants to go after a landlord, then this ordinance is invoked. Even if the landlord does not want to evict someone, Campbell said strong-arm tactics are used against tenants, including nighttime checks and "bullying their way into properties."
Landlords are threatened that the city will revoke their business license, Campbell alleges, adding, "This is a self rule city; they get to do a lot of stuff."
In a further written statement, Campbell alleges, "Granite City has begun a targeted campaign against landlords they deem 'troublesome,' which in most cases is those landlords who previously attempted to fight against the unjust demands of crime-free housing. As a result, landlords now live in fear of what the city may do next to their struggling businesses.
"I know of one such landlord who had Granite City code enforcement officials show up at a customer's home unannounced, and falsely state that the landlord had failed to pay his real estate taxes, suggesting that the tenant's home could be in jeopardy and that the tenant should find somewhere else to live. That particular tenant acted on that fabricated news and moved shortly thereafter, as many would when believing their home is at stake.
"What Granite City's motives are I cannot say, but I can say that the situation is getting nothing but worse. The true reasons behind these illogical and damaging evictions that continue to uproot the lives of the city's poorest residents could be revealed by an investigation."