NU Students Say 'Brothel Law' is Being Enforced

Students have complained that they have been targeted as they moved back to school this year.

Northwestern students say the so-called "brothel law" is being enforced this year, despite city officials saying otherwise.

The law is a city-wide housing regulation ordinance that forbids three or more unrelated individuals from rooming together without a city-issued lodging license. City officials say the law is intended to prevent landlords from ignoring safety concerns, but it caused controversy last winter when students complained they were being unfairly targeted and feared they would be evicted.

A student recently told the Daily Northwestern that she had her apartment inspected in mid-September and was asked for names of people living with her.

The student told the Daily that the city said she has 30 days to "cure the problem," after which point her landlord could be charged $100 a day under the ordinance.

Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl that the city works hard to avoid eviction and that there would be no change in enforcement of the law.

Tisdahl said at the meeting that the overall issue is one of town/gown relationships.

“Let’s get past the old bad feud days, and figure out how to get along," she told students. "Let's try to resolve these problems instead of having fights over nonexistent brothel laws.”

City officials initially said the entire "brothel law" brouhaha was the result of an overly sensational article in the Daily. Officials met with students to clear up what they called misinformation, though students said at the time they still had concerns about the law.

The "brothel law" is as follows:

Under Title 5, Chapter 2 of Evanston’s City Code:

·         A lodging license costs landlords $166 annually, plus $13 per occupant.

·         Every room occupied for sleeping purposes must have a floor space of 70 sq. feet for a one-person bedroom, or 50 sq. feet per occupant for multiple-person bedrooms.

·         Any residence with a lodging license must be inspected by the health department once a year, and by the fire department once every 3 years.

·         Fines escalate for repeat violators.


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