New Laws for 2019 Affecting Chicago Renters

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At the beginning of 2018 our monthly newsletter contained a list of all new state and city laws that took effect on the first of the year and had a chance to affect the Chicago rental market. We included a copy of that newsletter in our first blog post of 2018. It’s now 2019 and we are doing it again. As we stated last year, we normally don’t duplicate content between the newsletter and the blog, but they do have different audiences that don’t overlap and this is pretty important stuff.


This is a partial list, only including the new laws that are most likely to affect landlords, renters and real estate professionals. As always we’ve tried to be accurate with our summaries but you should check the actual law and probably contact an attorney before acting on any changes. You can find the full list of Illinois laws effective January 1 2019 at the General Assembly’s data archive.

  • Home Repair Contracts and Mechanics Liens. The disclosures that building contractors must provide to consumers before starting work have been amended to include several paragraphs pertaining to mechanics liens, lien waivers and sworn statements. These paragraphs must be included verbatim along with a list of all subcontractors and their expected pay.
  • Health Club Memberships. The $2500 annual limit per person on health club memberships has been struck from the law. Contracts are now capped at 12 months instead of 24 months. Contracts may no longer contain language prohibiting the use of third parties (e.g., lawyers) in the consumer’s defense.
  • Definition of Lead Poisoning. All mention of federal blood lead level guidelines has been struck. Blood lead levels can now be considered “elevated” and subject to reporting to the state health department even if they are simply higher than normal but not in excess of state limits.
  • Bidding Procedures for Public Buildings. The existing laws pertaining to designs and bidding on building contracts for public buildings had been scheduled to expire on June 1 2018. This has been extended to June 1 2023.
  • Mandatory Sexual Harassment Prevention Training for Professions Requiring Continuing Education. Beginning with license renewals effective January 1, 2020, all professions that must take CE classes to renew their state licenses must have at least one hour of sexual harassment prevention training as part of their CE programs. This includes all licensed real estate brokers, managing brokers and leasing agents.
  • Naming of Corporations and Penalties for Tardy Annual Reports. Prohibition on company names including mention of the Olympics, Paralympics, and related mottoes has been lifted. Fines for late filing of LLC annual reports have been lowered from $300 to $100 per year.
  • Multiple Changes for Notaries Public. Many real estate and law offices will have a notary public (or several) on staff. There were extensive changes to the laws governing this role, major enough that we can’t effectively summarize them here. Hit up the link for details.
  • Real Estate Licensing. Another massive set of changes but we’ll do our best to summarize.
    • Changes to CE requirements for real estate auction agents.
    • Home Inspectors must now be licensed.
    • Blind ads (without mention of the agent’s name and sponsoring broker) are now permitted if the agent is selling or leasing their own property.
    • Businesses no longer need to carry pocket cards, but their employees do.
    • Non-participating owners and officers of real estate firms must submit sworn affidavits of non-participation to IDFPR.
    • All participating partners must be licensed, as opposed to the previous requirement on all “general partners.”
    • A 5 year moratorium on new real estate licenses is now in place for anyone with a suspended or revoked license. Disciplined agents can no longer immediately bounce back by creating new licensed brokerages.
    • Partnerships and corporations selling or leasing their own property are no longer exempt from licensing requirements, but individual FSBOs are still exempt.
    • Branch office licenses have been eliminated. Branches now must display a copy of their home office’s license and the home office must notify the state of new branches rather than applying for a separate license for them, and the same goes for real estate education providers.
    • Previous caveat emptor laws protected unlicensed companies and individuals from consumer compensation lawsuits. Unlicensed companies are no longer protected from these suits but individuals still are.
    • IDFPR must establish CE requirements and deadlines for appraisers.
  • Elimination of Home Appraiser exams. New Home appraiser licensees no longer have to take an exam. They only have to provide proof that they’ve completed an approved training program. The 2 renewal limit on an appraiser trainee license has been lifted. IDFPR now needs to have at least 1 licensed appraiser investigator on staff for every 2000 licensees.
  • New Broadband Advisory Council. A new council has been created to advise and review the broadband internet/media needs of the state and ensure that all communities are getting necessary service.
  • Emailed messages from governments must be opt-in. Any messages sent from government bodies with the exception of schools that are sent out by email must also have a default snail mail option, and the electronic delivery option must be opt-in.
  • New provisions for erroneous property tax sales. If a property was sold for unpaid taxes by mistake and the new certificate holder has made substantial changes to the property to devalue it since obtaining the certificate, the new holder may be forced to surrender the certificate to the county. Multiple other changes in this one, if you’re involved in scavenger sale business it’s worth a look.
  • Mugshots are Private Things. Police may no longer publish mugshots online unless they are being used as part of an active investigation requiring public assistance. For-profit entities that publish mugshots must respond to correction or removal notices within 5 business days, with a penalty of $100 per day for failure to comply with written correction requests. Fictional works, news entities, Illinois State Police and consumer reporting agencies are exempt.
  • Anti-Pimping Protections expanded to cover all Human Trafficking. The laws covering penalties for pimping and forced prostitution have been expanded to include all instances of human trafficking and involuntary servitude, not only those forced into the sex trade.
  • Reckless Dog Owners Defined. A specific definition is now on the books for “reckless dog owners” along with procedure and penalties for such persons.
  • Property Assessed Clean Energy Act. Multiple changes to this one. If you’re a developer involved with the creation of clean energy buildings, go check it out.
  • Stalking: It’s not Just for People Anymore. A person can be found liable for stalking a workplace, school or place of worship where they previously could only be found to be stalking individual people. Also, unwanted social media contact now counts as a stalking offense.
  • Police Quotas banned for Home Rule cities. Previously municipalities with home rule were exempt from the statewide ban on police quotas. Not anymore.
  • Public Housing Authorities must Disclose Wait List Position. Applicants for subisidized housing who are placed on a wait list may request information on their position on the wait list from the pertinent housing authority. The authority must provide a written response within 10 business days.
  • County Recorder Fees to Change for Outsized Documents. The Fee schedule was outlined in detail for standard sized documents but counties are charged with coming up with fee schedules for documents that exceed 8.5″ x 11″ or plats of survey exceeding 11″ x 17″.
  • More fees for Tax Sales. All counties must now charge an automation fee per item purchased at property tax sales. The fee should not exceed $10. Additional fees are established for counties with less than 3 million people, so if you do cross-county work go check out the linked changes.
  • Abandoned Mobile Homes. Mobile home park owners may now remove abandoned mobile homes from their property without requiring the authorities to do so on their behalf. As you can imagine the restrictions on this are extensive and should be checked in depth before trying it.
  • Employers must reimburse employees for out-of-pocket expenses. If an employee incurs a necessary cost or loss during the course of their work, their employer must reimburse them so long as the loss was not due to the employee’s negligence. The employee must request the reimbursement in writing within 30 calendar days. This requirement may be preempted if the employer has an existing reimbursement policy on file. Landlords who send workers on Home Depot runs had better get those polices in place pronto.

City of Chicago

Chicago’s laws tend to take effect as soon as they pass, so there aren’t many that were deferred to January 1. Most that take effect today are budgetary or leases of privately owned buildings for city use. There are only two of note, both of which we covered in last month’s newsletter. As was the case last year, there is no specific page containing all laws taking effect on 1/1/2019. However, you can go to the city’s Legistar page and search for them by entering “January 1 2019” (in quote) in the Legislative text field, “Passed” in the Status field and ticking the “Key Legislation” checkbox.

If another new law took effect on Jan 1 that you think we should mention here, let us know in the comments. If this sort of content is of interest to you, you might want to subscribe to our monthly newsletter as we do provide lists of pertinent legislature activity at the state, county and city level every month.

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Published by

Kay Cleaves

Founder and owner of RentConfident. She's the primary developer of the website and research engine code. She's spent over 10 years working in the Chicago rental industry and has assisted with over 1200 leases.