The city of Zion, Illinois, has permanently changed a rental inspection provision that has been a long-standing point of contention with REALTORS® in that community.

The change stems from a 2019 lawsuit where a landlord and tenant challenged the city’s ability to levy fines for refusing entry for a rental inspection without a warrant. At the time of the lawsuit, individuals were subject to daily fines of up to $750 per day for refusing entry for inspection. City officials relied on language in the city’s Rental Housing Certification Application that made consent to inspections a requirement for submitting the application.

Now, after more than three years, a series of amendments to the ordinance, and several court hearings, the matter has been resolved.

On Dec. 29, 2022, a federal judge ratified a Consent Decree, resolving the issue and permanently ensuring protections for landlords and their tenants. Per the binding agreement, the city may no longer penalize those demanding a warrant for entry. Further, the city can no longer require advanced consent as a condition for submitting a completed Rental Housing Certification Application. Zion representatives also agreed to dismiss all pending fines and fees assessed because of a refusal to allow entry for an inspection without a warrant.

The changes will be a welcome relief to housing providers worried about their tenants demanding a warrant from city inspectors. The outcome is likely to aid Illinois REALTORS® efforts with local governments throughout the state to ensure the protection of property owners subject to municipal inspections. The lawsuit was brought forward with help from the Institute for Justice, a nonprofit, public interest law firm.