State and Local Legislative Update
The Illinois General Assembly is on a one-week hiatus in observance of Passover. Last week, there was a flurry of activity as each chamber rushed to pass legislation out of its house of origin before the April 22 deadline. There is still no FY 2016 budget, but a $600 million bipartisan compromise was reached as a stopgap measure for funding higher education and was signed into law by the governor (PA 99-502). Also, because the deadline for placing constitutional amendments on the November ballot is six months ahead of the election, several proposals are pending for passage by May 6. These include two different versions of constitutional authority to adopt a graduated income tax, a redistricting plan for drawing legislative maps (separate from the signature gathering by the Independent Maps group to put a redistricting proposal on the ballot), and a prohibition against so-called road fund diversions. In addition, two pending bills to enact a graduated income tax are dependent on the constitutional amendment being approved in November. Speaker Madigan’s constitutional amendment proposal to enact a “millionaire’s tax” was defeated on April 20 by a vote of 68-47 (all constitutional amendment proposals need a three-fifths majority or 71 votes in the House for passage.)
The CAA concentrated much energy last week on opposing the radon testing bill (described below) and contacted numerous legislators to share our concerns.
Radon Testing/Disclosure Bill Fails to Advance
HB4528, the Tenants Radon Protection Act (Rep. Emily McAsey, D-Lockport), would greatly expand the radon disclosure provisions required of residential apartment owners and managers. Current state law requires disclosure of radon testing that has been completed to prospective tenants renting a unit on the first and second story above the ground level only, but not on the third floor or higher. HB4528 mandates that before a lease is signed, a landlord must provide to every prospective resident a prescribed radon hazard disclosure form and all records and reports pertaining to radon concentrations within the dwelling unit.
CAA opposes HB 4528 for the reasons described in our fact sheet and we’re pleased to report that the bill was not called for a vote before the full House last week, missing the deadline for passage of bills in their house of origin. The bill was re-referred to the House Rules Committee; technically, it is dormant for this session, but we will continue to monitor it. We hope to work with the sponsor on a solution that does not unnecessarily impede or hinder the lease transaction process.
10-Year Battery Life Smoke Detector Legislation Stalls
SB 2837, an amendment to the Smoke Detector Act, which would require all battery powered smoke detectors to be replaced by those with a 10-year battery life, advanced out of the Senate as a “shell bill” (contains no substantive language). It is being further discussed by proponents (a battery manufacturer and firefighters) and opponents, led by the Illinois Realtors. Originally, SB2837 (Sen. Ira Silverstein, D-Chicago) made it a felony for owners who failed to install new 10-year life battery powered smoke detectors, and the City of Chicago was exempt. Recent changes to the proposal removed the exemption for Chicago, limited replacement of existing smoke detectors to those manufactured over ten years ago, and reduced the penalty from a felony (for repeat offenders) to a petty offense.
CAA was neutral on the original bill and we will continue to monitor and report on any efforts to move an amended version forward this session.
Lead Paint Mitigation Bill Advances
SB2300 (Sen. Donne Trotter, D-Chicago) would amend the Lead Poisoning Prevention Act by requiring an owner who has received a lead mitigation notice to abate or mitigate the hazard before entering into a new lease agreement for the dwelling unit. This would create a different standard for sale and lease transactions, and impose heightened abatement requirements on landlords. Currently, owners must provide prospective buyers and renters written notice that a lead hazard had been previously identified or mitigated, but the sales transaction is not affected. SB2300 would prohibit execution of a lease agreement until such time as a certificate of compliance was received. The bill passed the Senate on April 22 by a vote of 35-17. It is currently pending in the House. CAA is neutral on SB 2300.
SB2333 Amends Security Deposit Return Act
SB2333 (Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford) amends the Security Deposit Return Act in an attempt to clarify the procedure and timeframe for returning a security deposit and notifying tenants of any damage, deductions and repairs. The bill defines the date on which a tenant “vacates” a unit and establishes a procedure for dealing with tenants who remain in possession after their right to occupy the unit has expired. The bill, an initiative of the Illinois Rental Property Owners Association, passed the Judiciary Committee and deadline for consideration by the full House was extended until May 13th.
CAA Establishes Priorities for Chicago’s Shared Housing Ordinance
Mayor Emanuel introduced the Shared Housing Ordinance in January to regulate short-term residential rentals and marketing intermediaries. The ordinance requires shared housing units, rented up to 90 nights per year, to be registered with the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection. Hosts of units rented more than 90 nights per year must obtain the current vacation rental license. The host registration requirement and vacation rental license apply to transient occupancy of 31 or fewer consecutive days. Intermediaries like Airbnb, VRBO and HomeAway are required to obtain a license and pay hotel taxes and a new 2% affordable housing surcharge.
CAA met with representatives of the Mayor’s office to articulate our position and the ordinance as introduced includes provisions we support. First, it prohibits tenants from listing their units with an intermediary without the permission of the apartment owner. If the shared housing unit is subject to a rental agreement, the host must attest to the owner’s approval. Second, it does not prohibit an apartment owner from marketing units with an intermediary should they decide to do so. Finally, corporate housing is exempt.
After further review and discussion with our board of directors, CAA believes the ordinance should be amended and/or the rules should address the following additional issues. The landlord consent provision should be strengthened to include proof that the owner has in fact granted permission for the unit to be listed with a licensed intermediary. In addition, intermediaries should be required to ensure that registration information provided by a host be accurate and verified. Access to the city’s list of host licenses and registrations should be made readily available and transparent to apartment owners on the city’s website on a one-button click, and the lists should, at a minimum, include the street address and unit number. In addition, we believe the ordinance should clarify that guest suites are also exempt.
CAA will meet with the Mayor’s office and City Council members again soon to advocate for the right of apartment owners and managers to control their properties.
Cook County Residential Rental Licensing Ordinance
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle recently introduced an ordinance to require licensure of residential apartments in buildings with four or more units located in unincorporated Cook County. The goal of the licensing requirement is to ensure that apartment buildings are maintained adequately to entice neighboring municipalities to annex the property. Individual rental units would be subject to inspection once every four years at a cost of $50 per unit.
Commissioner Wants to Prohibit “Retaliatory” Motions for Use and Occupancy
Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin (1st District) has introduced an amendment to the housing section of the County’s Human Relations code regarding housing to prohibit those who file a forcible entry and detainer case from also filing a motion for use and occupancy against a person who has requested a jury trial. His proposal would also prohibit landlords that receive a rent subsidy from filing a motion for use and occupancy in any eviction case. CAA is opposed to the ordinance as motions for use and we disagree that such motions are used in a retaliatory matter. Motions for use and occupancy are often necessary to keep parties in the same position as they were at the commencement of a forcible entry and detainer suit. In light of the fact that a jury trial may remain pending for up to a year, it is unreasonable to expect a landlord to subsidize the tenant for that period of time. In addition, we question whether Cook County has the authority to override or negate this provision of state statute.