Rental agreements now have more restrictions in new Cook County ordinance
By Michael DeSantis
Landlords should be aware of Section 42-804 of a new Cook County ordinance that deals with requirements for rental agreements. These rental agreements will have more restrictions and need to follow certain requirements as laid out in this new ordinance.
Cook County commissioners voted unanimously on Jan. 28 to pass the Residential Tenant Landlord Ordinance (No. 20-3562), which goes into effect in June and includes Section 42-804. It applies to residential tenancies across Cook County.
One of the main things to note is the lease agreement must contain the full names of all known occupants of the dwelling unit leased, and the occupancy cannot exceed the maximum occupancy permitted by applicable building codes or ordinances. This seems to include everyone living in the property—both adults and children. It would be best to identify the ages of the individuals living in the property, so you know who to hold responsible for any lease agreement breaches.
Also, rent should be payable at the time and place agreed upon by the parties. Unless otherwise noted, rent is to be paid at the property at the beginning of each month in equal monthly installments. Therefore, if you would like rent paid at a different time or place you must agree upon it in the lease for it to be enforceable.
Additionally, if the landlord does not sign the lease, either by refusal or not remembering, they will be bound by the lease agreement if they accept rent.
On the other hand, if the tenant fails to sign the lease agreement, they will be bound as if they signed it, if they take possession of the property. In either circumstance, the lease will be in effect for a period of one year unless otherwise agreed.
This section of the ordinance also outlines prohibited lease terms (things you cannot have in the lease). Here is a quick list of those prohibited lease terms:
– A tenant cannot waive or forgo their rights under any applicable law;
– A tenant cannot confess judgment without trial;
– A tenant cannot waive the right to receive a written termination notice or waive the right to receive a court summons;
– A tenant cannot agree to a non-disparagement clause that limits their written or oral statements made by tenants regarding the landlord or the property;
– There can be no limitation of liability of the tenant or the landlord;
– There can be no waiver of a jury trial;
– There can be no agreement that in the event of a lawsuit arising out of the tenancy the tenant will pay the landlord’s attorney’s fees except as provided by court rules, statute or this ordinance;
– There can be no clause that allows one party to terminate the rental agreement at a different or shorter time than the other party;
– Late fees are limited to $10 per month for the 1st $1,000 in rent plus 5% for anything above $1,000 (The ordinance provides you can’t get around this late fee provision by saying you’ll discount the rent in excess of the same figures if they pay by a certain date.);
– A landlord cannot agree to apply rent payments to charges other than rent, including but not limited to utilities or late fees; and
– A landlord cannot impose a fee in excess of the reasonable cost they incur regarding credit checks or move-in fees.
If a landlord deliberately uses a rental agreement containing provisions that are in violation of this section of the ordinance the tenant can sue the landlord for two months’ rent or actual damages, whichever is greater. This applies to new rental agreement starting on or after June 1, 2021.
Landlords should be aware of these restrictions so that they are not in violation of this ordinance. These requirements will be strictly enforced in the court system.
For more information or if you would like us to draft a lease on your behalf, please feel free to contact the attorneys at Gardi, Haught, Fischer & Bhosale for assistance by clicking on the free case evaluation button below.