February 18, 2022 State Capitol Report

Both the Senate and House members were back in Springfield this week for scheduled session days. Floor action in both chambers was dominated with long, and at times heated, debates over the appointment process of the new Legislative Inspector General. With this week being the House deadline for any house bills to make it out of a committee, most legislative action was once again in committees. Over 70 bills that the Illinois REALTORS® Legislative Team have been actively working on were discussed in committee this week, below is a summary of some of the bills that we are currently engaged in.

This Week in Springfield

HB4374 (Rep. Didech, D – 59th, Buffalo Grove) The Vacancy Fraud Act would allow for the Cook County Accessors office to file a vacancy fraud complaint if a commercial property is receiving vacancy relief and the property owner is not actively attempting to sell or lease the property. This act states that any property owner in Cook County that received a property tax reduction, due to the property’s vacancy, and is not actively trying to sell or lease the property is committing fraud and will be subject to considerable penalties and fines. The Illinois REALTORS® OPPOSE the bill as written and are currently working with the bill’s sponsor and stakeholders to narrow the scope of this legislation’s intent. Currently, Cook County accesses commercial property based on a “market corridor” and not by an individual property’s value and any “vacancy relief or reduction” is only considered through “extraordinary” circumstances, such as a fire or flooding disaster.  Commercial property owners must then submit an affidavit to the Cook County Accessor’s office to claim that “extraordinary” circumstances have occurred to receive a reduction in their assessment. The Illinois REALTORS® are working to have the focus be only on the sworn affidavits for “extraordinary” circumstances, any language that does not only and specifically address that program will continued to be OPPOSED by the Illinois REALTORS®. A new amendment and language are expected soon.

HB5412 (Rep. Evans, D-33rd, Chicago) As reported on last week, this bill would require general contractors to pay subcontractor’s employee wages when a subcontractor defaults on payment to his/her employees.  Unfortunately, this bill would apply to the many REALTORS® and homeowners who choose to fulfill the role as general contractor on building or remodeling their own homes.  Therefore, ANYONE who is the general contractor on a project would be liable for unpaid wages and in essence, would be required to pay double for the work.  Your Illinois REALTORS® Legislative Team continues to negotiate this bill and work on your behalf to make the necessary changes to make sure that real estate professionals and homeowners acting as a general contractor will NOT be liable for subcontractors wages.

HB 4605 (Rep. Gong-Gershowitz, D-17th, Glenview) The bill seeks to codify the Federal Housing Act into the Illinois Human Rights Act. After working with the sponsor and the Department of the Human Rights, the sponsor agreed to remove the undefined term “make unavailable” from the bill.  The Illinois REALTORS® opposed including this ambiguous term because it would have caused much confusion regarding human right’s violations for licensed real estate brokers. The Illinois REALTORS® Legislative Team appreciate the sponsor and the Illinois Department of Human Rights willingness to amend the bill to remove our opposition.  With the sponsor’s promise to make changes to the bill, HB4605 was moved to Second Reading in the House Immigration and Human Rights Committee.

HB 4786 (Stava Murray, D-81st, Downers Grove) The bill would restrict landlords from requiring only electronic transfers for rental payments and not allowing other means of payment.  In addition, during the hearing, the sponsor reported that the Attorney General wants to add an amendment to her bill removing penalty fee caps for landlord violations.  The bill is on Second Reading in the House.  If the bill is amended, the Illinois REALTORS® will be OPPOSED and will continue to work with the sponsor and Attorney General.

HB4939 (Kifowit, D-84, Aurora) The bill would require landlords to pay for mold tests, and the removal of mold if found in Senior-living residences. Currently at the state and federal level, there are no standards to measure mold and due to this reason the Illinois REALTORS® OPPOSE HB4939. The bill moved through the House Judiciary- Civil Committee and is currently on Second Reading, but the bill sponsor has pledged to work the Illinois REALTORS® on this issue to alleviate our concerns.

HB 5131 (Stava Murray, D-81st, Downers Grove) HB5131 would add another item to the residential real estate disclosure form that would require sellers to disclose if they are aware of unsafe concentration and/or unsafe conditions due to mold on the premises. Unfortunately, mold  is very common and as mentioned above, no state or federal standards exist for the measurement of mold. Once again, for this reason the Illinois REALTORS® OPPOSE HB5131.

At A Glance

After this very busy week of committee hearings, next week your Illinois REALTORS® Legislative Team will be focusing on continuing our negotiations and possible amendments to the bills we oppose. Over the last several weeks, a lot of our focus has been on opposing and amending bills in committee, but that doesn’t mean we have lost sight of our mission and stance on housing in Illinois. The Illinois REALTORS® continue to work towards programs that would expand affordable housing in low-income communities and fighting to make sure that there are significant appropriations to make impactful steps in addressing the severe housing shortage throughout Illinois. Legislative session is in full gear and your Legislative Team is on top of all issues that affect the real estate industry and private property rights. Stay tuned every Friday for the latest news from the Capitol.

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April 25, 2023