In April 2019, the Cook County Commissioners approved a Just Housing Amendment (JHA). The intent of the ordinance is very clear: prevent housing discrimination among persons with a criminal background. JHA was immediately added to the Human Rights section of Cook County’s municipal law, effective December 31, 2019.
What does this mean for the real estate industry?
Any landlord or property management company in Cook County that conducts tenant screening will need to incorporate the new JHA procedure. There is a two-step tenant screening process that must be followed:
- Pre-qualification (ability to pay, references, etc.)
- Criminal background check
If a person has a criminal history, housing providers must conduct an Individualized Assessment. 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.
To deny housing, a landlord will have to give the applicant an opportunity to dispute a denial by providing evidence to counter any criminal history discovered in the criminal background check. Housing providers must be aware of the time period allowed to dispute the denial. If the applicant disputes the denial, materials must be provided to the landlord within a specific amount of time.
CAR strongly opposes discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, sexual orientation, gender identify and national origin. This policy is embodied in the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Code of Ethics.
While the JHA intent is understood, the complexity of tenant screening already exists. Landlords must follow local, state and federal rules and regulations. The JHA is adding layers to the regulations already in place.
CAR had an advocacy win when we were able to get rid of the holding period of a rental unit if an applicant was denied housing, which placed additional risks on the housing provider.
Any landlord or housing provider in Cook County will have to follow the JHA rules effective December 31, 2019. It is critically important that rules are understood and followed to reduce risk of any penalties. Keep a look out — click here to access the issue summary and updates.
Coffee with Your GADs
It goes without saying: there are a lot of updates that impact your business. Be sure to come to Coffee with the GADs, usually the first Tuesday of the month, to get the latest updates on what will affect you and your clients, and what CAR is doing to protect your private property rights!
Be sure to register on ChicagoREALTOR.com.
It’s never too early to plan to be part of the solution. The Illinois REALTORS® Capitol Conference, also known as Lobby Day, is Tuesday, April 21, 2020. We invite you to join your fellow Chicago REALTORS® storming the capitol to meet with legislators and let them know where we stand on the public policy issues that impact our business and our clients. To make it easy on you, CAR provides transportation to Springfield. Please plan to be there and be on the lookout for updates on ChicagoREALTOR.com.
Schedule a Visit from Your GADs
If you can’t make it to a Coffee with Your GADs meeting, want more info on RPAC or think your fellow brokers will benefit from hearing about CAR’s current public policy initiatives, feel free to request a visit from one of our GADs. Please visit ChicagoREALTOR.com/GAD to complete a GAD visit request form or email us at KAnderson@chicagorealtor.com or AMurawski@chicagorealtor.com to schedule a time to visit your office, get to know your brokers and fill you in on the issues we’re fighting for every day!