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Journal & Topics: Britton, Morrison Sponsor County Renters Protection Ordinance

By Tom Robb

Cook County commissioners Scott Britton (D-14th) of Glenview and Kevin Morrison (D-15th) of Elk Grove Village were expected to detail their proposed Residential Tenant Landlord Ordinance at a press conference Tuesday, Dec. 8.

Currently, only Cook County residents living in Mount Prospect, Evanston and Chicago have ordinances defining basic landlord-tenant rights and responsibilities, a joint fact sheet from Britton and Morrison says.

The proposed legislation, which, if adopted, would take effect next summer, is expected to be considered at Cook County Board meetings this month.

The legislation as proposed “describes landlord rights and renter responsibilities, such as payment of rent and lease compliance” and restricts retaliatory conduct. The proposed ordinance would ban lease terms that waive certain notices and tenant rights and allow landlords to charge high interest on late rent.

The ordinance would also mandate security deposits be held in separate accounts and sets penalties when they are not returned. The proposed ordinance would prevent landlords from renaming security deposits as “move-in fees.”

The ordinance would establish uniform standards for building integrity and improve procedures allowing renters to withhold rent for minor repairs or terminate a lease when a landlord fails to make needed repairs.

The proposed legislation would create a course of action to enforce “renters’ rights” not to be locked out and would provide guidance on when entry is permitted when there is a dispute. The proposed ordinance exempts owner-occupied buildings with six or fewer units.

The proposed legislation is supported by 55 organizations, including some that serve the North and Northwest suburbs, including Open Communities, and the North Suburban Legal Aid Clinic.

The legislation could be opted out of by a home rule municipality if that village or city already adopted its own similar landlord-tenant ordinance, said Nate Jackson, a spokesman for Morrison.

When Cook County adopted a fair housing ordinance several years ago, Glenview utilized its home rule authority to adopt its own fair housing ordinance with language specifically exempting landlords from a county ordinance requirement to accept housing vouchers. Many local home rule municipalities also enacted local legislation to opt-out of a Cook County ordinance that would have hiked the minimum wage several years ago.

Glenview has since brought its fair housing ordinance into compliance with the county ordinance.


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