Bill poised for governor forces Illinois landlords to participate in federal program

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(The Center Square) – Some landlords around Illinois have concerns about a bill that could soon be headed to the governor that they say gives more choices for residents in public housing but provides less autonomy for landlords.  

The measure amends the Illinois Human Rights Act and gives protections against discrimination based on source of income. It passed both chambers and awaits being sent to the  governor. 

The legislation essentially mandates that landlords participate in the Housing Choice Vouchers program, commonly referred to as Section 8, a federal rental assistance program for low-income individuals where monthly rent is determined by income. Currently in Illinois, Housing Choice Vouchers is a voluntary program for landlords who opt-in to participate. 

Paul Arena, director of legislative affairs at the Illinois Rental Property Association, said if the bill is signed into law, landlords statewide will lose control.

“It’s a blank check for government to further control rental property moving forward, and that is why it is so dangerous,” Arena said.

Under the measure, landlords would continue to be able to screen tenants. However, if those tenants meet the landlord’s criteria, and the tenants use subsidies, landlords would be required to sign contracts and abide by Section 8 rules and restrictions.

The bill’s sponsor, state Rep. LaShawn Ford, D-Chicago, said the law has been enacted in 19 other states with success.

“No one across the country that has this law has repealed it,” Ford said. “It is the right thing to do, and it was great negotiations because even the realtors decided to be in support.”

The Illinois Coalition for Fair Housing also supports the legislation.

"We believe that HB 2775 provides the opportunity for individuals and families currently shut out of housing opportunities to make their case to a landlord that they will be a good tenant," Bob Palmer with the coalition said in an email. "While not guaranteeing housing, or requiring any landlord to rent to any specific applicant, this legislation will level the playing field for all Illinoisans with non-wage income to access a fuller range of housing options."

via The Center Square

April 22, 2022 at 11:23PM

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