Serving Skokie rental property owners, renters and homeowners
Legislation has been proposed to regulate application fees. Tenant screening is one of the most important functions of property management so concerned is very high about this bill. As it is currently written, Illinois Rental Property Owners Association (IRPOA) and the Skokie Independent Landlord Association (SILA) are strongly opposed.
The problems with the bill are:
1. Application fee is defined in the bill as any money accepted before leasing to a person. That could include holding deposits, security deposits or non-refundable move in fees.
2. The bill requires you to monitor how you allocate the application fee to the various aspects of screening a tenant and then provide the tenant a written accounting of how you actually used the money along with a refund of any unused amount. That information is not relevant to the applicant.
3. A landlord would have to provide a response to every applicant in writing and to provide an explanation of why the tenant did not qualify along with a copy of the information you received in making the decision.
4. If a landlord does not comply with the requirements you would have to pay a $200 penalty plus the tenant's attorney fees when they accuse you of non-compliance. This bill is written to make attorneys money.
We agree that if a prospective tenant is paying an application fee they should receive basic information regarding the transaction such as if there is an actual unit available or if they are applying for a waiting list and when the applicant will receive a response to the application. We also agree that if you take a fee and don't process the application then the fee should be returned.
This bill goes far beyond basic communication. As written it will impair a landlord's ability to effectively screen tenants. We have been told the bill will be amended. Due to the importance of tenant screening we want to bring it to our member's attention now and ask you to contact your own House Representative to discuss the issue. We don't want to be unprepared should the bill move forward without addressing the problems.
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