New recycling ordinance requires another summary from Chicago landlords

Chicago recycling ordinanceNew Chicago Recycling Ordinance requires recycling flyer

Last summer, the City of Chicago updated the Chicago Recycling Ordinance.  That new law went into effect on January 1, 2017.  The new ordinance has a direct effect on most Chicago landlords.  This law is not optional!  The City of Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation will be conducting inspections to enforce the new law. 

Recycling Requirement

The new law imposes a duty on non-exempt property owners to provide for source-separated recycling within the requirements of the law.  This law mostly deals with commercial, condominium properties, and certain multi-unit residential properties and brings them into line with the blue cart recycling program.  In the realm of residential landlord tenant work, the recycling requirement applies to residential buildings of four or more units.

A violation of the obligation to contract with a private recycling company will result first in a 30 day notice followed by penalties of not less than $500 and not more than $1000 for the first violation.  The penalties get more severe for second and third violations.  Each day that a violation continues constitutes a separate and distinct offense.  Obviously, the penalties for non-compliance can skyrocket.

Recycling containers must be provided by the property owner.  The containers must be (1) clearly identified as being recycling containers; (2) display a written or pictorial list of recyclable materials that can be deposited in the container; (3) be emptied on a regular basis; and (4) be maintained free from odor.

Signage Requirement

Landlords must provide in the common areas one or more permanent and legible signs notifying persons that source-separated recycling is required under Chapter 11-5 of the Municipal Code of Chicago.  In addition, the signs required to be posted shall list the materials that are required to be source separated and shall describe the collection procedures for the materials.

Tenant Education

Landlords must also develop and implement an “ongoing education program to educate all tenants, residents, and occupants” about the recycling program.  The program shall include but is not limited to:

  1. Flyers containing the following minimum information: (1) the types of materials required to be recycled; (2) the types of materials that cannot be deposited in a recycling container; (3) instructions on how to prepare materials for recycling; (4) the location of all of the building’s recycling containers whether inside or outside of the building; (5) the name of the private hauler service and the hauler’s collection schedule; (6) the name and phone number of a contact person authorized to provide information and answer questions about the recycling program; and (7) any other requirements that may be imposed by the Commissioner of the Department of Streets and Sanitation.
  2. Notice to existing tenants, within ten calendar days of a change, of any change that is made to the recycling program.

A violation of the tenant education requirements will result in a penalty of not less than $500 and not more than $1000 and each day that a violation continues constitutes a separate and distinct offense.

Notice to Tenants

Here’s where landlord’s need to take note.  There is now another disclosure that needs to be added to their leases.  For any existing tenant, the landlord shall provide a copy of the flyer required within 30 calendar days after the effective date of the ordinance.  Since the law went into effect on January 1, 2017, that means your clock is already ticking!

For all other tenancies, landlords must provide a copy of the required flier to the tenant “at any time any lease, rental agreement, or similar agreement” between landlord and tenant is “signed, renewed, or otherwise extended”.  That’s a burden similar to the ongoing obligation to provide an ordinance summary, interest rate summary, or bedbug summary at any renewal or extension.

A violation of the requirement to provide a tenant with notice will result in a penalty of not less than $500 and not more than $1000 and each day that a violation continues constitutes a separate and distinct offense.

Record Keeping Requirement

Any owner governed by the law must keep on file all written documentation (manual, flier, written notification, written offer, or documentation of any type) to be produced for inspection upon request by any city inspector.  This is similar to the documentation requirements under the bedbug ordinance.  A violation of the documentation requirement will result in a penalty of not less than $500 and not more than $1000 and each day that a violation continues constitutes a separate and distinct offense.

The law has other exemptions and requirements for commercial and condominium buildings.  Property owners should tread cautiously because of the major fees that can accrue.

The result?

So, multi-unit residential landlords have one more piece of paper to prepare for their leases.  Will it ever end?  Probably not.  This is 2017 and Chicago has confirmed time after time that this kind of thing is going to be the landlord’s problem.  The worst part is that the city has not prepared the flyer – it is up to the landlord to prepare it.  Landlord’s who don’t like it might want to consider whether they want to be a Chicago landlord anymore.    Like everything in the world of landlord-tenant law, always consult with an attorney before acting.

About Richard Magnone

Co-founding member of Reda | Ciprian | Magnone, LLC, attorney at law and Illinois licensed lawyer since 1996.
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