Proposed Cook County Residential Tenant and Landlord Ordinance-RTLO

Cook County is proposing changes to the RLTO ordinance.  The only exemptions to this new ordinance at this point would be Chicago, Evanston, and Oak Park because they already have a similar ordinance in place.  This means if you are a landlord in Barrington, Schaumburg, Berwyn, Tinley Park, Lansing, or any of the other 131 municipalities you will be affected.

Some of these changes match the CRLTO in Chicago, but this new ordinance takes a step further in the direction of benefiting the tenant.  Here are just a few examples in both the original and proposed substitute version.

  • Late Fees – The ordinance would set a specific cap to the amount of late fees a Landlord can charge each month.  Both the original and proposed changes set the limits on late fees to $10 per month for the first $1,500 of rent and the 5% additional for rent above that.  $2,000 monthly rent would be a $35 max late fee you can charge.

  • Security Deposit – Like most of us do in Chicago, we work around the security deposit laws by accepting Non-Refundable Move-In Fees, however, this ordinance would not allow the collection of a non-refundable fee.

  • Lease Renewals –  Both the original and proposed changes say that no tenant should be required to sign a lease renewal more than 90 days prior to the termination date of the rental agreement.

  • Security Deposit Interest –  Both the original and proposed changes say that all security deposits be held in an interest-bearing account within an Illinois financial institution.

  • Focus On Conditions – In both the original and proposed versions there is a large focus on penalties to owners that do not maintain a certain level of conditions to the property.  Landlords need to keep their property safe and address ongoing and capital improvements but this ordinance has it written to be very subjective or in a way that Landlords will find themselves guilty until proven innocent.

  • Disclosure Of Costs – Landlords would be responsible for disclosing utility costs for the previous 12 months of a rental unit.

  • Abandonment and Property – If the tenant left any personal property that is of little value, the landlord must notify the tenant that the items will be disposed of.  After sending the notice the landlord shall store all personal property of the tenant in a place of safekeeping.

The likelihood that some version of this ordinance will pass before the end of 2021 is very high.  The original proposal suggests all terms becoming effective immediately but the proposed change includes an effective date of June 2021.

We’re going to monitor this and will provide updates.