It’s Crunch Time If You Are a Cook County Landlord

  • a $10 ceiling on late fees,
  • elimination of move-in fees,
  • an extension of the 10-day eviction notices for material non-compliance to 30 days, and, most the harmful of all,
  • a continuation of the RLTO’s unfair “strict liability” requirement that prevents judges from using their discretion when awarding damages and attorney’s fees. This provision leaves us no room to negotiate even if we committed only an unintentional technical violation of the ordinance that caused no harm to the tenant.
  1. Call the commissioner’s office and express your opposition to the ordinance. It’s even better if you can engage the commissioner or his or her staff member in a discussion explaining why you oppose the ordinance, or
  2. Send the commissioner an email expressing your opposition to the ordinance and explaining why.

Reaching Cook County Commissioners

Talking Points

Legislative Goals

  • Eliminate the mandatory penalty provisions that deprive judges of their ability to use their discretion when assessing penalties and attorney fees. Most of the penalty and attorney fee provisions in the ordinance are mandatory, depriving judges of the ability to distinguish between serious and intentional violations of the ordinance and violations that are minor, unintentional technical mistakes that do little to no harm to the tenant (so-called “gotcha” provisions). For the same reasons we shun mandatory sentencing in criminal cases, we should not restrict a judge’s ability to mete out fair and just penalties and determine if attorney’s fees are warranted.
  • Restore the ability of housing providers to assess move-in fees. Parties should have the freedom to enter into contracts and negotiate terms. Tenants often prefer paying move-in fees as an alternative to security deposits as they offer less upfront cost than requiring a security deposit equal to one or two times the first month’s rent.
  • Restore the 10-day notice requirement for material breaches of leases. The ordinance’s proposed 30-day notice requirement unnecessarily prolongs the misconduct that resulted in the material breach and causes more disruption to other tenants in the building, the surrounding community and the owner of the building (e.g., an unauthorized “guest” engaged in illegal conduct can cause more damage and disruption in 30 days than in 10).
  • Eliminate the across-the-board $10 late fee limit and instead adopt the Chicago RLTO formula, which imposes a $10 fee on the first $500 in rent and a 5% fee on rent above $500. A $10 late fee, regardless of the amount of rent owed, serves as a disincentive to tenants to pay their rent on time, hurting housing providers’ ability to maintain their buildings and cover their other expenses. It also discourages housing providers from renting to those whose credit history reveals a higher risk of late payments.

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