Thinking of becoming a landlord?

New laws add complexity to going at it alone

by Urban Real Estate

This past November, the Cook County Board of Commissioners adopted a set of rules known as the Just Housing Amendment, which went into effect December 31, 2019. Essentially, the tenant screening process is two-steps: First, the assessment of the tenant’s ability to pay – then, their criminal background check. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the ordinance will open the door to people with criminal records who apply for housing.

The board voted to approve the new rule 12-4, which is an amendment to the county’s existing housing ordinance. “Now, apartment owners will not be able to consider criminal backgrounds of applicants until after they already have qualified through a credit check or other screening,” reports. The new effort does not apply to sex offenders, who still can be rejected.

“Renting out a home requires a prospective landlord to abide by federal, state and local laws, often which they are not familiar with,” says Michael Emery, senior partner and broker with New Eastside real estate brokerage Urban Real Estate. “Fair housing laws serve as reminders and requirements that everyone be treated equally. The cost of not doing so can be catastrophic to the average homeowner trying to go at it alone and save a brokerage fee, rather than have a professional manage the process.”

Laws change regularly, as do penalties. Reminders of this come from such as the Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance (RLTO) which not only prescribes what the penalty for not paying a tenant interest annually on a security deposit held is (and how it legally should be secured) but also what the interest rate is, and when it should be paid out. 

“Being a landlord in the city of Chicago has its benefits, but the ultimate value comes in retaining the services of a real estate broker to manage a process that can be tedious, cumbersome, and ultimately have legal and financial ramifications if handled poorly,” adds Emery.

Contact Urban Real Estate today, at or call us at (312) 528-9200 to help you prepare for an upcoming rental, or help evaluate your current leasing situation.

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