December 2019 Government Affairs Update | Chicago Association of REALTORS®


Following a lengthy rulemaking process, on Thursday, November 21, the Cook County Board adopted a set of rules for the Just Housing Amendment which will take effect on December 31, 2019. We are still waiting on guidelines from the County, which we will share as soon as they are released. Right now, know that changes are coming! You need to be aware and prepared – your policies, both written and unwritten, must reflect the new rules.

  • The tenant screening process is a two-step process: the ability to pay and then criminal background check. The Just Housing Amendment and rules will impact the second part of the process, the criminal background check. As of December 31, the tenant criminal background check can only consider factors relevant to an individual’s conviction history from the previous three years.
  • You should be prepared to do an Individualized Assessment during the criminal background check process. If a denial of housing due to a person’s criminal background occurs, the Individualized Assessment must be completed and documented. This considers other factors in that person’s life, such as the nature and severity of the criminal offense, the number of criminal convictions, evidence of rehabilitation, etc.
  • Housing providers must give the applicant an Opportunity to Dispute the Accuracy and Relevance of Convictions. The applicant must produce evidence within five (5) business days.
  • ADVOCACY WIN: The holding period of a unit during the dispute stage of the tenant screening process no longer applies.

Learn more: Just Housing Ordinance


Chicago currently has a law called the Real Estate Transfer Tax (RETT).  This is a tax imposed when titled real estate property is transferred within the city of Chicago.

  • As of late 2019, Mayor Lightfoot is calling for an increase in the transfer tax. The Mayor is looking for a graduated tax for real estate transfers, as well as a reduction in the rate for homes worth less than $500,000.
  • Traditionally, REALTORS® oppose any increases in real estate-related taxes and/or fees that will increase the cost of a transaction. CAR and Illinois REALTORS® are committed to opposing the Real Estate Transfer Tax in Springfield.
  • If the City Council seeks the ballot referendum, CAR will vigorously oppose the measure through meetings with members of the City Council and by engaging our members to make sure elected officials know we are the voice of real estate.

Learn more: Real Estate Transfer Tax


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.

  • 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.
  • However, 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.

Learn more: Senior Housing Bill of Rights

Advocacy questions or concerns? Contact Kristopher J. Anderson or Adriann Murawski.