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Landlord's Failure to Disclose Code Violations in the Lease in Chicago & Cook County

Chicago RLTO Section 5-12-100(a) “Notice of Conditions Affecting Habitability”

The language and interpretation of Chicago RLTO Section 5-12-100(a) makes little sense and contains a cure provision of fourteen (14) days. The Cook County RTLO, realized the problems with Section 5-12-110, and now prioritizes disclosure of code violations prior to entering into a lease on strict liability grounds.

Pursuant to Chicago RLTO Section 5-12-100(a), “Before a tenant initially enters into or renews a rental agreement for a dwelling unit, the landlord or any person authorized to enter into a rental agreement on his behalf shall disclose to the tenant in writing:

(a) Any code violations which have been cited by the City of Chicago during the previous    12 months for the dwelling unit and common areas and provide notice of the pendency of      any code enforcement litigation or administrative hearing proceeding pursuant to Section 14A-3-301.2.2 of this Code affecting the dwelling unit or common area. The notice shall provide the case number of the litigation and/or the identification number of  the administrative hearing proceeding and a listing of any code violations cited.

(b) Any notice of intent by the City of Chicago or any utility provider to terminate water, gas, electrical or other utility service to the dwelling unit or common areas. The disclosure shall state the type of service to be terminated, the intended date of  termination; and whether the termination will affect the dwelling unit, the common areas or both. A landlord shall be under a continuing obligation to provide disclosure of the information described in this subsection (b) throughout a tenancy.”

Chicago RLTO Section 5-12-100(b) finishes with the following, “If a landlord violates this section, the tenant or prospective tenant shall be entitled to remedies described in Section 5-12-090.”

If we then go to the remedies in Section 5-12-090 it then states the following, “If the landlord fails to comply with this section, the tenant may terminate the rental agreement pursuant to the notice provisions of Section 5-12-110(a). If the landlord fails to comply with the requirements of this section after receipt of written notice pursuant to Section 5-12-110(a), the tenant shall recover one month’s rent or actual damages, whichever is greater.”

Here, the written notice must allow the Landlord fourteen (14) to disclose the code violations and also must state that the Tenant will pursue the one months’ rent as penalty.  Only if the landlord fails to respond to the written notice will this Section have any effect and is thus useless 90% of the time because Landlords do respond to the cure provision.  Additionally, the harm has already been done by not disclosing the code violations in the lease so a cure provision makes little sense.

Cook County RTLO Section 42-810(C) “The Landlord Obligation To Provide A Written Notice Concerning Habitability”

The Cook County RTLO prioritizes disclosure of code violations prior to entering into a rental agreements; there is no cure provision for Landlords for failing to disclose violations and Section 42-810(C) is strict liability.

Pursuant to Cook County RTLO Section 42-810(C)(1), “[b]efore a tenant initially enters into or renews a rental agreement for a dwelling unit, the landlord, or any person authorized to enter into a rental agreement on their behalf, shall disclose to the tenant in writing:

Any code violations which have been cited by the municipality or other oversight body during the previous 12 months for the dwelling unit and common areas and provide written notice of the pendency of any code enforcement litigation or20 administrative hearing. The written notice shall provide the case number of the litigation and/or the identification number of the administrative hearing proceeding and a listing of any code violations cited;

Any notice of intent by the municipality or any utility provider to terminate water, gas, electrical, or other utility service to the dwelling unit or common areas. The disclosure  shall state the type of service being terminated, the intended date of termination, and  whether the termination will affect the dwelling unit, common areas or both.”

Cook County RTLO Section 42-810(C)(2) finishes with the following, “If the landlord fails to comply with section 42-810(C), the tenant may terminate the rental agreement by written notice. The written notice shall specify the date of termination no later than 30 days from the date of written notice. In addition, if a tenant, in a civil legal proceeding against an owner or landlord, establishes that the landlord has violated this section, the tenant shall be entitled to recover one (1) month’s rent or actual damages, whichever is greater, and reasonable attorney’s fees.”

This Section is a major win for Cook County Tenants.  The Cook County RTLO contains no cure provision for Landlords for failing to disclose code violations before a lease is entered into or renewed. The unambiguous language of RTLO Section 42-810(C) makes lease termination on this basis a solid option.

Affidavit

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