Cook County Seeks County-wide RLTO
UPDATE: See here for more on this proposed ordinance that is set to be voted on by the Cook County Board on December 15, 2020.
Yep – you heard that right. Coming soon to rental units in the suburbs is the pain felt for years by landlords in the City. At a time when it seemed that the regulations affecting landlords could not get more voluminous and complex, the Cook County Board is debating a newly introduced Cook County Residential Tenant and Landlord Ordinance this morning July 30, 2020 (you can watch the County Board proceedings Live here). I haven’t made a deep dive into the law, but here are a few high points from my first pass through:First, a copy of the proposed law can be found here. The law does not seem to have any exception for small landlords. The usual exemption for small landlords in owner-occupied properties of 6 or fewer units like the Chicago ordinance does not exist. This law will apply uniformly across the board.
It appears that all landlords in Cook County will need a written lease as all rental agreements must include the full names of all occupants of the leased dwelling unit. The law has a number of provisions that will be prohibited in leases including a prohibition on a tenant waiving a jury trial or waiver of termination notice (two of the benefits a landlord in the suburbs could take advantage of). The law will also put a cap on late fees. A violation of the prohibition will result in a penalty of damages equal to the greater of two months’ rent or actual damages.
The law prohibits landlords from a rental agreement that will “impose fees in excess of reasonable expense”. I’m not sure what that means but I do know it will lead to litigation on the tenant side of things. A violation of this provision will result in a penalty of damages equal to the greater of two months’ rent or actual damages. I can speculate that there would be lawsuits over what is a “reasonable” move in fee or application fee because of the benefit of the chance at getting such a big penalty.
There are provisions related to property condition similar to 5-12-110 of the ordinance including a repair and deduct provision. There is an access provision that will require 2 days advance notice before a landlord can enter.
They have worked the Chicago Fair Notice law “one time right to cure” law. There are bedbug provisions, disclosure requirements, limits on the amount of security deposit that can be collected, and a summary requirement. There is the usual complement of landlords paying the tenant’s attorney fees and tenant’s never having to pay attorneys fees. This is not going to be good for landlords.