Chicago Good Cause Eviction Ordinance to be Proposed

What about landlord’s rights?

I received from a friend a copy of an ordinance that one of the Chicago Alderman is apparently planning to present to the Chicago City Council on May 23, 2018. The ordinance appears to be penned by the tenant-friendly Lawyer’s Committee for Better Housing.  Its contents are shocking.  If you are a landlord, prepare to be shocked and awed as your property rights are whittled away.  The law is known as the Good Cause for Eviction Ordinance.  A text of the entire proposed ordinance, as believed will be introduced, can be found here.  A number of other landlord-hostile cities have adopted ordinances similar to this one.  The stated goal is to stabilize the community against greedy landlords.  A position paper from the Lawyer’s Committee for Better Housing dated February, 2018 indicates that “If “housing is a human right,” then it begins with “security of tenure,” which promotes long-term neighborhood stability.”     So what does this proposed law, in part, do?  I’m going to spread this post out over a few days.  This will be part one.

Requires “Cause” to Evict

The law suggests that a landlord cannot just end a lease at the end of it’s term or provide a 30 day notice to end a month-to-month lease.  Instead, a landlord needs to have a “good cause” to remove the tenant.  The law provides eight causes that will allow a landlord to legally terminate a tenancy or file for an eviction.  The burden of proof would be on the landlord in each of these cases.  The reasons are as follows:

  1. Nonpayment of rent provided the tenant does not pay the rent before an order for possession is entered.
  2. Late payment by a tenant at least four times in a twelve month period.
  3. Material noncompliance after 10 day notice with failure to cure
  4. The renter’s refusal to renew a lease after being offered a “substantially similar” lease
  5. If the landlord or a “qualified relative of the landlord” will re-occupy the property for at least 24 months
  6. A condominium conversion
  7. Remodeling
  8. Demolition or removal of the rental unit from residential use

Oh boy, there are some real gems in that list!  Let’s look at one of them: an eviction when a tenant fails to pay rent.  This would cause a major change to eviction jurisprudence within the City of Chicago.

Failure to Pay Rent

A landlord can’t evict a tenant without a good cause and the most old fashioned cause of all is the nonpayment of rent by the tenant.  Let’s look at that, because the drafters of this proposed ordinance have added a twist – one many landlord’s won’t like.

So, a tenant fails to pay rent.  The landlord serves a five day notice.  The tenant fails to pay the rent within the five day notice.  The landlord files an Eviction case in the Circuit Court, pays the filing fee, pays the Sheriff the service fee, has the tenant served, pays an attorney to go to court, and… the landlord can only evict “provided that said rent is not paid prior to the issuance of an order for possession or an eviction order pursuant to [the Eviction Act]“.  You read that right.  All the way up until that point where the judge signs an order for possession, the tenant can pay the rent and everything is over.  REMEMBER, Section 5-12-140(e) of the Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance already prohibits rental agreement provisions that say a landlord can recover attorney’s fees from a tenant.  So, in a nutshell, the tenant fails to pay, the landlord sues to evict, the tenant pays.  It’s all good?  That seems to be the result under the proposed ordinance.

When will this end?  Landlords are regulated and regulated and regulated.  Talk to your alderman.  Oppose this challenge to your very property rights.  I have to wonder if it will be worth it to own rental property in Chicago under the current legislative conditions being proposed (rent control, for cause eviction).  Tomorrow, we will take a look deeper into the proposed ordinance.