SENIOR HOUSING BILL OF RIGHTS
The Jane Addams Senior Caucus is championing legislation dubbed the Senior Housing Bill of Rights. The Ordinance was introduced in City Council by Housing and Real Estate Chairman Harry Osterman.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR THE REAL ESTATE INDUSTRY?
The proposal is onerous to both property managers, building owners and city resources. There are many questions if the city has the manpower to enforce the regulations as written and, with the City in such a fraught financial situation, if this is a reason to hire more personnel.
The Ordinance states the intent of this legislation is “to advance the City’s vital interest in ensuring dignity, safety, and respect for senior tenants.” The REALTORS® and other groups concur with this goal.
Some of the more concerning issues in the proposal:
- Introduction of a cooling ordinance (similar to the Chicago Heat Ordinance), that requires temperatures do not exceed 80 degrees Fahrenheit during summer months. It would be extremely costly to supply air conditioner units and/or retrofit buildings.
- Mandating of on-site maintenance staff. This multiplies the operating budget for a building.
- Prevention of “lock-out” fees. There are routine charges to provide entry upon being locked out. This calls for extreme government oversight.
- High fines for violations of this ordinance, which are excessive. As proposed, the fine would be $1,000 per day, per violation, without a cure period.
REALTORS® oppose all attacks on private property rights. While the intent of the proposal is to allow seniors to age with dignity and respect, it does not consider the cost to owners/operators nor does it consider the limited budget of city services by requiring bi-annual inspections.
Many of the mandates proposed do not follow best practices for building management. The REALTORS® suggest more reasonable prescriptions, such as maintenance being called and scheduled within a reasonable amount of time after a problem is reported, and a tenant with a documented ailment such as Alzheimer’s or dementia being exempt from lockout fees.
The REALTORS® seek practical solutions and want to partner with the City, but as presented, this ordinance encourages operators to abandon operating senior care facilities, threatens to bankrupt non-profit providers and worst yet, increases the number of employees retained by the City of Chicago to address the fears laid out in the proposal.
The legislation currently sits in the City of Chicago City Council Housing and Real Estate Committee. Unfortunately, the Chairman of the Committee introduced the bill personally. In many instances, committee members defer to the Chairman and vote to advance legislation the Chairman personally introduces. However, other real estate groups such as the Homebuilders of Greater Chicago and the Chicagoland Apartment Association have both voiced concern, and all three of us have met with the Chairman.
Currently, there is no committee vote scheduled. If changes and amendments are not offered, the Association will encourage our members to voice their dissatisfaction.