Chicago Landlords Beware: Tenants Rejoice

by | Jul 30, 2020

Despite vehement objection by several aldermen, property owners’ organizations and developers, the City of Chicago passed what’s come to be known as “The Fair Notice Eviction Ordinance” on July 22, 2020 by a vote of 36-14.  Not to be confused with the COVID-19 Eviction Protection Notice passed in June 2020, the Fair Notice Eviction Ordinance amends the Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance and requires ALL residential landlords of City of Chicago property[1] to now provide extended notice of lease terminations, rent increases and non-renewals.   The previously required 30 days’ notice has been extended to as much as 120 days, depending on the length of the existing tenancy.  Acknowledging that Chicago will now have “one of the longest notice periods in the country,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot pushed hard for this controversial tenants’ rights provision against a backdrop of feared increase in small building owner foreclosures, disincentive for distressed neighborhood investment and a history of tenant abuse during the shorter, 30 day notice period.  On the flip side, proponents of the Ordinance, citing the need for housing stability and leniency, advanced concern that, especially during the economic devastation of COVID-19, 30 days is simply not enough time for a tenant to pack up, find new housing and leave when faced with non-renewal.    In short, the new Ordinance provides for the following:

Extends the notice period for non-renewal of leases from the current 30 days to:

  • 60 days prior to the stated lease termination date for tenants who have lived in their current apartment for between 6 months and 3 years
  • 120 days for tenants who have lived in their current apartment for over 3 years
  • This section pertains to all “periodic” residential leases—yearly and month-to-month
  • This section does not govern evictions filed for nonpayment of rent or other lease violations, such as abandonment and disturbances.

Creates a new notice period for landlord’s intent to raise rent to:

  • 60 days for tenants who have lived in their current apartment for between 6 months and 3 years
  • 120 days for tenants who have lived in their current apartment for over 3 years

Introduces a new “right to cure” for tenants facing eviction for nonpayment of rent up until an order of possession is granted by the court:

  • Currently, tenants have a five-day period to pay their back rent after receiving a notice of nonpayment—after that, landlords can reject payment and continue the eviction
  • The new “right to cure” would now require landlords to accept full payment of all back rent, including court filing and service fees (but, alas, not attorney’s fees), up until an eviction order is issued by a court
  • This right can be used only once by a tenant in that specific unit
  • Possibly due to political horse-trading, only this “right to cure” provision does not apply to owner occupied buildings of 6 or fewer units. 

The penalty for failing to provide the requisite notice  is that the tenant may remain in the premises (regardless of the stated termination date) for up to 60 days after notice is provided for tenancies of less than 6 months, up to 90 days after notice is provided for tenancies of between 6 months to 3 years and up to 120 days after notice is provided for tenancies of greater than 3 years. 

Passed on July 22, 2020, the new Ordinance has a 90-day grace period and does not apply to any existing rental agreements that expire before October 20, 2020.   Stalled in committee is another proposed ordinance -“Just Cause Eviction” – that would, among other things, limit a landlord’s ability to pursue eviction and add a mandatory relocation fee to be paid to tenants upon a building’s demolition, renovation or condominium conversion. This proposal is currently tied up in the City Council Rules Committee.  One thing is certain, this is a very fluid process, and more change is on the horizon. Depending upon your point of view, these changes could be for the better . . . or not. 

For further information, please e-mail Michael Friman or call (312) 648-2300. 

[1] As previously drafted, the Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance does not apply to owner occupied buildings with 6 or fewer units. The new Ordinance expands that coverage with respect to the specific provisions stated herein.

 

[DISCLAIMER – This information is solely for information purposes and does not constitute legal advice. Please contact SFNR with all legal questions.]