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.
As of December 19, the Human Rights Commission has not produced any guidance for housing providers. We will share guidelines as soon as they are released.
In the meantime, here’s what you need to know:
- 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 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.
- If a person has a criminal history that might warrant a denial of a rental unit, housing providers must conduct and document an Individualized Assessment for that applicant. The Assessment can take several factors into account, such as the nature and severity of the criminal offense and how recently it occurred, number of applicant’s criminal convictions, length of time the criminal offense occurred, evidence of rehabilitation, etc.
- If a denial for housing based on a criminal background occurs, the provider must give the applicant an opportunity to dispute a denial by providing evidence to counter any criminal history discovered in the criminal background check. The applicant will have five (5) business days to provide evidence disputing any information that warranted the denial.
- ADVOCACY WIN: The holding period of a unit during the dispute stage of the tenant screening process no longer applies.
- While the amendment’s effective date is December 31, 2019, enforcement has been delayed until January 31, 2020.
As we receive more information, we will keep you posted!