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New Law Could Fine Landlords for Improper Tenant Screening

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I just read about a new state law in Illinois which targets landlords who allow bad tenants to move in to their income properties.  I’ve never heard of anything like this before, and as such I figured it would make a great topic for today’s post.

Basically, landlord tenant laws of this nature target landlords with properties in high-crime areas, and apparently such mandates are becoming more and more common.  The objective of these laws is to prevent landlords from adding to the crime problem in these areas.  In other words, these laws put the onus on the landlords to not allow additional criminals to move into their rental properties located in these neighborhoods.

The law in Illinois authorizes fines of up to $500 a day to landlords whose tenants regularly engage in such crimes as drug trafficking, weapons violations, disorderly conduct, and similar bad behaviors.  Specifically, if the police are called to the same rental property 3 times in 4 months, they will first contact the landlord and attempt to work out an action plan to reduce the illegal behavior, up to and including eviction.  If the action plan is not successful, or the landlord does not comply, then the landlord could be subjected to the $500 / day fine, and could even have his property shuttered!

Yes, laws such as these might seem a little unfair because it’s impossible for landlords to have complete certainty about, or control over, all of their tenants.  But whether you agree with it or not, the fact is that these laws are becoming increasingly common and therefore you need to adapt accordingly.

The bottom line is that tenant verification is now becoming even more critical to your long term success.  Yes it was always important because it can make the difference between getting an excellent tenant and a complete nightmare tenant, but now you can also get in legal hot water for poor verification practices!  So, proceed with caution!

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