Chicagoans May Soon Get More Notice Of Rent Increases

Renters could get notices of 60 or even 120 days before leases are up. But some aldermen worry the measure could hurt small business landlords.

Rent
A For Rent sign in San Francisco on June 21, 2020. Chicago aldermen are considering a proposal that would extend protections to renters if their landlord wants to raise the rent or terminate the lease. Jeff Chiu / AP Photo
Rent
A For Rent sign in San Francisco on June 21, 2020. Chicago aldermen are considering a proposal that would extend protections to renters if their landlord wants to raise the rent or terminate the lease. Jeff Chiu / AP Photo

Chicagoans May Soon Get More Notice Of Rent Increases

Renters could get notices of 60 or even 120 days before leases are up. But some aldermen worry the measure could hurt small business landlords.

Chicago renters are one step closer to getting more time to find a new place if their landlord terminates a lease or raises the rent.

The Fair Notice Ordinance, as it’s been called, would require landlords to give most renters a 60-day notice that they plan to end a lease agreement or raise the rent. If a tenant has been living at a property for more than 3 years, they would get 120 days. The current requirement for landlords to give notice is one month.

“It’s nearly impossible to land on your feet well in 30 days,” said Housing Commissioner Marisa Novara. The ordinance does not impact evictions for non-payment or other lease violations, Novara said.

Ald. Sophia King, 4th Ward, supported the ordinance and told her colleagues why she felt it was an important change to city law.

“We had a developer just coming in and wanting to raise rates, giving 30-day notice, literally to a pastor’s mother who had Alzheimer’s … really just insensitive,” King said. “She needed more time.”

But the ordinance drew backlash from some aldermen for being unfair to smaller landlords who are struggling to stay afloat.

“If they lose their property, you don’t just have to worry about the tenant being forced out, because now you’re going to have to deal with a landlord who’s in foreclosure,” said Ald. Raymond Lopez, 15th Ward.

A few progressive aldermen, including Ald. Byron Sigcho- Lopez, 25th Ward, argued it was a watered-down version of another ordinance requiring landlords to have “just cause” for removing renters.

In a rare parliamentary move, those progressives in May sent the original ordinance from Mayor Lori Lightfoot to the Committee on Committees, Rules and Ethics, the place legislation usually goes to die.

Ald. James Cappleman, 46th Ward, voted against the measure not because he was against giving more notice to renters, but because he would have liked more notice to read through the changes.

“I got notice that there was a huge change last night at around eight o’clock and I finally got the last revision at 8:04 this morning,” Cappleman said. “I don’t feel comfortable voting ‘Yes’ at this point until I can have more time to look at it.”

Novara said the ordinance went through several revisions and is the result of six months of discussions with aldermen, tenants’ rights organizations, small landlords, large property owners, and community members.

“I believe that this is the most balanced outcome we can achieve at this time,” Novara told the committee.

The ordinance passed out of committee Tuesday by a 12 to 6 vote. It still needs approval from the full city council, which could consider the measure next week.

Becky Vevea covers city politics for WBEZ. Follow her on Twitter at @beckyvevea.