Mayor’s Fair Notice Amendment Passes Chicago City Council

For the first time since 2016, the Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance has been amended.  By a vote of 35-15, the City Council passed Mayor’s second draft of the measure.  At the Building’s committee a week earlier upon only a few hours notice, the Mayor presented an amendment to the proposal she originally introduced on May 20, 2020 which contained even more anti-landlord provisions.  That version was passed through the Building’s committee and passed into law at the July 22, 2020 meeting of the Chicago City Council.  The law took effect immediately upon passage.

The main thrust of the law was an overhaul of Section 5-12-130 of the CRLTO.  That’s the provision that requires notice from a landlord to terminate a lease.  In the rest of Illinois (and most of the world), tenants know their lease is coming to an end because the lease tells them (usually 12 months in advance) when the lease is coming to an end.  However, under the old Section 5-12-130(j), the landlord had an obligation to serve notice, 30 days in advance of the expiration of the lease, that the lease would not be renewed.  Landlords who failed to provide that notice would need to give sixty days notice thereafter to terminate a tenancy.

Under the new law, there is a sliding scale for notice.  For any tenancy of six or fewer months, the old rule remains – 30 days (and 60 days if delivered late).  This also applies to changes to a month-to-month tenancy.  For any tenancy of six months to three years, the tenant is entitled to a bit longer – 60 days (and 90 days if delivered late).  At the last minute, the Mayor added a further protection for any tenancy greater than 3 years, the tenant is entitled to 120 days (also 120 days if delivered late).

Interestingly, the ordinance does NOT address 5-12-130(i) of the ordinance which will create a conundrum for some landlords.

5-12-130(i) Notice of Renewal of Rental Agreement. No tenant shall be required to renew a rental agreement more than 90 days prior to the termination date of the rental agreement. If the landlord violates this subsection, the tenant shall recover one month’s rent or actual damages, whichever is greater (emphasis added)

Okay, so I have a tenant who is residing in my property and has been there for 5 years.  I am not allowed to ask them to renew their lease any more than 90 days before their lease expires.  However, if I have to wait until 90 days out to ask and they say “no, we want to leave”, then I have to give a notice of intent not to renew and I am already inside the 120 day limit.  So, what should smart landlords do?  Serve EVERY tenant who has resided in their property for 3+ years with a notice of intent not to renew and then bring up discussions of a new lease at 90 days before expiration?  Sounds like that’s what is going to be required for the time being.

The revised anti-landlord version of the ordinance also contains an amendment to Section 5-12-130(a) of the ordinance related to a “one-time right to cure non-payment of rent” by a tenant.  I will discuss that in far more detail in another article.

One other interesting note is that this notice requirement came along with a change to Section 5-12-020(a) which applies this law to all tenancies in the City of Chicago, including those not governed by the CRLTO.

Landlords should be aware that this change will definitely result in a change to the ordinance summary required by Section 5-12-170.  I will keep an eye out for that.