Chicago Landlords May Be Obligated to Provide Air Conditioning

We missed this one

Lost in all of the hoopla over the passage of the Mayor’s Covid-19 Eviction Protection Ordinance, we missed the proposal of at lease one new ordinance that will affect Chicago Landlords.  Under a sweeping ordinance proposed by 12th Ward Alderman George Cardenas, changes would be made to the Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance requiring landlords to provide as an essential service, “refrigerated air”.

Alderman Cardenas indicates that “Due to climate change, Illinois is projected to develop a climate similar to the Southern United States over the next 30 years”.  Apparently, he wants to get a jump on local cooling in response to global warming.  He proposes, among other things, that if the landlord provides central cooling, the landlord must provide their tenants with sufficient refrigerated air from June 8th to September 8th to allow for a maximum temperature of 79 degrees.  This is the inverse of Chicago’s heating ordinance which runs from September 15 through June 1.  If passed, Chicago’s heating and cooling schedule would look like this:

If the landlord does not provide central cooling, the building code would be as follows:

13-196-405 Residential buildings – Cooling facilities.

Every family unit and rooming unit shall have cooling facilities that are capable of safely and adequately cooling all habitable rooms, bathrooms, and water closet compartments within its walls to a temperature no hotter than 79 degrees Fahrenheit, when: (1) the outside temperature is 84 degrees Fahrenheit or higher; or (2) the heat index reaches or exceeds 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Fans that do not produce refrigerated air shall not be considered as cooling facilities within the meaning of this section. The owner shall provide and maintain all fixed air conditioning systems and install any window-mounted air conditioning units required to comply with this section but may pass any utility costs onto the tenant for fixed air conditioning systems.

The legislation indicates that “There are growing number of cities in the US introducing legislation requiring landlords to provide functioning refrigerated air, and it is imperative that the City of Chicago acts now to ensure that every resident of Chicago has access to safe indoor temperatures”.  I did a quick and unscientific search and could find references to air conditioning requirements in Texas and Arizona.  I concur that those places can get hot.  Most states, including Illinois, have rules that provide that if an air conditioner is provided as an amenity, a landlord must maintain the system.

The legislation proposes to add cooling facilities and refrigerated air to the list of required essential services in Section 5-12-110 of the CRLTO.  Landlords who fail to maintain those facilities or provide refrigerated air as required by the building code would be subject to lease termination and penalties under the ordinance.

At a time when property taxes are out of control, utility costs are out of control, and tenants’ rights activists are calling for rent control, can now be a good time to push for this change in the law?  A copy of the proposed ordinance can be found here.

About Richard Magnone

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