Breaking down the Chicago “Good Cause for Eviction” ordinance

Yesterday, I went through the provision of the allegedly proposed Good Cause for Eviction ordinance provision allowing for eviction based on non-payment of rent (provided the tenant doesn’t make good before an eviction order is entered).  Today, I’ll examine the second reason that a Chicago landlord will be able to non-renew: habitual late payments.

So, to quickly recap, under the ordinance being proposed, a landlord can’t just decide not to renew a tenant because the landlord doesn’t like the tenant, because the tenant causes drama in the building, or because the tenant is disagreeable.  Instead, the landlord needs “cause” not just to evict, but also to not renew a tenancy for a year or a month to month tenancy.  You can see where this is going – tenants will have major power in staying in their unit, in some cases, to the great expense and detriment of the landlord.  So, the ordinance makes an exception in the case of a tenant who is repeatedly late in the payment of rent.  Let’s look at the second:

So, if a tenant is repeatedly late, the landlord can decide not to renew?  The answer is yes, if the tenant has been late at least four (4) times in the prior twelve (12) month period.  The ordinance then makes clear that just because a tenant is late multiple times, the tenant does not lose the right to pay under a five day notice (or right up to the day the tenant is going to get an eviction order as suggested by section 1 in yesterday’s discussion).   However, it is an adequate cause to not renew and may even be cause to terminate the lease and evict.  The latter would again revolutionize eviction jurisprudence.  The ordinance suggests that “if the renter continues to make a late payment, the landlord shall give the renter 30 days’ notice to vacate.”  Then, we get to the red tape.  The ordinance requires that to use this reason not to renew or to evict, the landlord must provide the renter with a notice following a late payment that a subsequent late payment may be grounds for eviction.  So, we have a new form!  I guess after the landlord serves a 5 day notice for late payment and the tenant pays, the landlord will need to serve another notice telling the tenant that the tenant paid late and suggesting that further late payments may be grounds for eviction.  The ordinance does not indicate what that notice will look like, nor how it must be served.  it is also unclear as to whether the notice must be served after each late payment or just after the third one.  Without more, I’d probably advise my clients to serve it each time.

For a further update, I received correspondence from the Chicago Association of Realtors this morning indicating that they can confirm that there are conversations taking place within the City Council in the coming week.