On August 2, 2011, Governor Quinn signed into law Senate Bill 1766 which became Public Act 97-0236, a bill opposed by the Chicago Creative Investors Association and the Illinois Rental Property Owners Association. The law which amends Section 9-120 of the Code of Civil Procedure (the eviction law that deals with a leased premises used in furtherance of a criminal offense), as enacted, purports to provide additional rights to landlords related to crime on a rental premises. The CCIA makes a number of arguments against the law.
To begin, the law requires that a notice be added to a written residential lease that notifies the tenant that
if any lessee or occupant, on one or more occasions, uses or permits the use of the leased premises for the commission of a felony or Class A misdemeanor under the laws of this State, the lessor shall have the right to void the lease and recover the leased premises
Luckily, a landlord’s failure to include the required notice in a written lease or using an oral lease does not waive or change a landlord’s right under the law. It seems that the legislature did not want to punish landlords for not knowing about this law or for forgetting to apply it.
Under the prior law, a landlord or the state’s attorney, if they would agree to accept an assignment of the landlord’s rights to evict (I have never been involved in a situation where they did agree, but I can’t say that no such situation exists), would have the right to evict a tenant for using or permitting the use of the leased property for the commission of a felony or Class A misdemeanor. In the rare case that the state’s attorney does take on the case, the landlord
This sounds good, no? Well, in short, it sounds better than it is. I have been involved in a few of these cases and they are often difficult to prove, usually requiring the landlord to subpoena the testimony of police officers, the testimony of police lab personnel, and official paperwork like arrest reports and criminal records. Criminal violation cases are not easy to win.
Under the amended law, the corporation counsel (just a fancy word meaning the “attorney who acts on behalf of the city”) of the municipality in which the real property is located is added to the state’s attorney as a party that may take assignment of the right to pursue an eviction.
The law, as presented, looks innocuous enough at first blush. It is the fear of pro-landlord advocates that the law will be abused to force landlords to evict tenants or suffer the wrath of the local municipality. It will be interesting to see if that happens. Crime free housing is an admirable goal that both landlords and tenants should strive for. I have written about the problems associated with “Crime Free Addenda” before. I hope that municipalities will not use this law to force landlords to do the job of the police.