RLTO Lawsuits demonstrate need for reform – Security deposit summary required even when no security

Advocacy News,

A rash of recent lawsuits over technical violations of the Chicago RLTO were filed in Cook County Circuit Court and demonstrate the need for reform. For years the apartment industry has advocated for changing language in the RLTO to allow for judicial discretion on questions of minor or technical violations instead of the strict liability inherent in the ordinance today. Apartment owners and managers are routinely on the hook for fines and attorney’s fees, and most choose to settle the lawsuits instead of proceeding with costly litigation. The lawsuits don’t benefit tenants and have unintended consequences for residents.

This recent article in the Cook County Record describes the class action lawsuits alleging apartment owner had not given tenants the “official” version of the RLTO summary, even though the summary provided contained the same language. Another case alleges the owner failed to provide a security deposit summary even though a security deposit was not required. While the nature of the suits defy logic, apartment owners and managers should be aware that a strict interpretation of the RLTO requires the security deposit summary even if the owners doesn’t do collect a security deposit.

The CAA will monitor these lawsuits and work with owners and policy-makers to address the problems.