Granite City is being sued by a couple who say their Constitutional rights were violated when the municipality ordered their eviction under a crime-free ordinance.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court in East St. Louis on behalf of Kenneth Wylie and Jessica Barron.

According to the lawsuit, which is one side of a legal argument, the couple’s eviction was sought by Granite City officials because a friend of their son committed a burglary at a nearby bar. The son’s friend had occasionally stayed at Wylie and Barron’s home.

Crime-free ordinances are sometimes used by communities to target problem areas, and can require training and licensing for property owners. They can require property owners to evict tenants the municipality deems as violating the crime-free ordinance.

Granite City has used the ordinance frequently, according to the Peoria Public Radio article.

Over the past five years, Granite City police have sent at least 300 notices to landlords to evict tenants because of violations of the crime-free housing ordinance, according to an Illinois Newsroom analysis published in May of police records obtained through a Freedom Of Information Act request.

According to Peoria Public Radio, the plaintiffs argue:

“No one should be punished for a crime that someone else committed. But that’s precisely what Granite City is trying to do here,” said Sam Gedge, an attorney with the Institute for Justice.

Illinois REALTORS® has been involved in highlighting the troublesome aspects of crime-free ordinances and helping municipalities craft rules which address due process and communication concerns, and which take into account existing federal and state laws.

A recent article in Illinois REALTOR® magazine outlined the pitfalls that can come with crime-free ordinances, and suggested ways communities can make the ordinances as legal ad minimally intrusive as possible for property owners and those who rent from them.