Housing issues continue to come up at the local level, driven in part by the pandemic environment. Here is a rundown of some of the major issues affecting Illinois communities this year.

Cook County Tenant-Landlord Proposal

In October, the Cook County Board introduced a Residential Tenant and Landlord Ordinance (RTLO) which regulates the relationship between the tenant and landlord. This proposal’s provisions grant a variety of new rights and remedies to tenants, and it imposes several new responsibilities and duties on landlords. The proposal is similar to Chicago’s landlord-tenant ordinance, but it goes even further in regard to new duties and limitations imposed on property owners.

This proposal includes the following provisions: 

  • Tenant “right to cure” non-payment of rent before a judge orders eviction,
  • Limits on late rental fee payments to $10 per month, 
  • Disclosure to prospective tenants of utility costs for the previous 12 months,
  • Landlord storage of tenant’s personal items if tenant vacates a unit, 
  • Notice of non-lease renewal must be done in no less than 90 days, 
  • Landlords cannot charge other “fees” such as a move-in fees.

On Nov. 16, a public hearing was held to consider this proposal. REALTORS® and association staff testified in opposition. A Call for Action to members, accompanied by digital ads (directed to county commissioners) was launched in November.

UPDATE: On Dec. 16, the ordinance sponsors delayed a committee vote in the Zoning and Building Committee until late January. Illinois REALTORS®, other real estate groups, tenant rights groups and county commissioners have been involved in a task force on the issue. After aggressive lobbying efforts, including a a Call for Action to our members in Cook County, more modifications were made to the RTLO two days before the scheduled committee meeting.

While many of the modifications were a step in the right direction, several concerns remain. Some of the unresolved points include: the scope of an ordinance exemption for single-family homes and condos that are rented out, a cap on late rent payment fees and lease renewal timeframes. The task force will regroup in early January 2021 and a full vote by the full county board could take place in late January.

City of Chicago proposal

The city of Chicago’s Committee on Housing and Real Estate may also consider a proposal on “Just Cause” evictions, making it difficult to evict a tenant for any reason other than non-payment of rent. It would also require advance notices on rent increases and would require tenant relocation assistance if the eviction was not a “just” one (as defined in the proposal).

REALTORS® oppose these kinds of proposals. The requirements discourage new investment in existing rental housing and drive up housing costs. The ideas may seem to help tenants but have the negative, long-term effect of driving up rents. It is also the worst possible time to impose all of this on landlords while they struggle with lost rental income due to the pandemic. 

Update: This Chicago proposal could come up for consideration in the first quarter of 2021.

Other local issues that we have advocated on in recent months:

  • A proposal to expand Joliet’s landlord licensure program to include single-family home rentals was shelved in October. This may come up again in 2021. 
  • The fees in a new rental property crime-free housing licensure proposal in Granite City were scaled back considerably in September.
  • Consideration of a vacant property registration ordinance in Decatur was shelved in October. 
  • A ballot measure to grant the village of Crestwood (south Cook County) Home Rule status was defeated in the November election.
  • Evanston enacted revisions to the Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) regulations to provide further clarity on requirements and limitations while also providing for one unit, by right, per zoning lot.