There have only been a few municipalities in Illinois that have passed ordinances that seek to strengthen and expand tenant rights. Notoriously, Chicago’s Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance (the “RLTO”) contains stringent provisions that require strict compliance from landlords. Other cities such as Evanston and Mount Prospect have passed similar ordinances, but the vast majority of cities and municipalities throughout Illinois do not have these ordinances.
On January 25, 2021, the Cook County Board of Commissioners passed its own county-wide version of the Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance (hereinafter referred to as the “Cook County Ordinance”) that mirrors Chicago’s ordinance. The Cook County Ordinance applies to new leases entered on or after June 1, 2021. However, the anti-lockout (illegal eviction) provision of the Cook County Ordinance goes into effect immediately.
The Cook County Ordinance mirrors many of the same provisions included in Chicago’s RLTO. Notably, both ordinances regulate security deposits (Cook County caps at 1.5 months of rent for security deposits) and provides for statutory damages and attorneys’ fees for noncompliance by landlords. Additionally, both ordinances delineate landlord and tenant obligations and remedies. Further, pursuant to Sec. 42-801(D) of the Cook County Ordinance, the Ordinance is subject to Cook County’s “home rule” powers, and thus applies to all Cook County properties, except for municipalities (Chicago, Evanston, etc.) that have similar ordinances. Thus, this Ordinance would not apply to Chicago properties and that is important to note because there are marked differences between these ordinances.
As an example, Sec. 42-804(F)(7) the Cook County Ordinance actually prohibits lease provisions that state that tenants will pay for landlord’s attorneys’ fees, unless if provided by court rules or statute. Notably, the Cook County Ordinance provides for statutory damages of (2) months’ rent or recovery of actual damages if leases contain a provision for reasonable attorneys’ fees in violation of the Cook County Ordinance. This is in direct contrast to the Chicago RLTO, wherein landlords in Chicago may include provisions in their respective lease agreements to recover for reasonable attorneys’ fees. Additionally, Sec. 42-809(C)(2) of the Cook County Ordinance requires landlords in Cook County to provide 60-day prior written notice to their tenant(s) of their intention not to renew an existing lease agreement. The Cook County Ordinance has further provisions and prohibitions that landlords and tenants should become aware of.
Tressler LLP can assist any landlord with reviewing current lease agreements to ensure compliance or assist with drafting lease agreements that will not violate the new Cook County Ordinance.