Sunday, August 28, 2011

New Law Requires Most Cook County Landlords to Change Locks With New Tenancy

An amendment has passed to the Illinois Landlord and Tenant Act which creates a new Section 765 ILCS 705/15 "Changing or rekeying of the dwelling unit lock."

The new Section requires that landlords in Counties with more than three million people (Cook County) change or rekey the locks for a rental unit at the start of each new tenancy, unless it is an owner occupied building with four or fewer units. This new law does not just apply to Chicago or Evanston, but all of Cook County.

If the landlord does not comply with this new rule, which will take effect January 1, 2012, then that landlord may be liable to the tenant for damages sustained because of stolen property by someone with the old tenants' key.

The Section says:

(a) A lessor of a dwelling unit shall comply with the

provisions of this Section regarding the changing or rekeying

of the dwelling unit lock. For the purposes of this Section,

"dwelling unit" means a room or suite of rooms used for human

habitation and for which a lessor and a lessee have a written

lease agreement.

(b) After a dwelling unit has been vacated and on or before

the day that a new lessee takes possession of the dwelling

unit, the lessor shall change or rekey the immediate access to

the lessee's individual dwelling unit. For the purposes of this

Section, "change or rekey" means:

(1) replacing the lock;

(2) replacing the locking or cylinder mechanism in the

lock so that a different key is used to unlock the lock;

(3) changing the combination on a combination or

digital lock;

(4) changing an electronic lock so that the means or

method of unlocking the lock is changed from the

immediately prior tenant; or

(5) otherwise changing the means of gaining access to

the lessee's locked individual dwelling unit so that it is

not identical to the prior lessee's means of gaining access

to the lessee's locked individual dwelling unit.

(c) If a lessor does not change or rekey the lock as

required in this Section, and a theft occurs at that dwelling

unit that is attributable to the lessor's failure to change or

rekey the lock, the landlord is liable for any damages from the

theft that occurs as a result of the lessor's failure to comply

with this Section.

(d) The provisions of this Section do not apply if the

lessee has obtained the right to change or rekey the dwelling

unit lock pursuant to a written lease agreement.

(e) The provisions of this Section do not apply to (i) an

apartment rental in an apartment building with 4 units or less

when one of the units is occupied by the owner or (ii) the

rental of a room in a private home that is owner-occupied.

(f) This Section applies only in counties having a

population of more than 3,000,000.

Under part (b)(5), the Illinois Legislature protected this law from becoming outdated by doors that rely on biometric locks or keyless locks. Essentially, whatever mechanism the door uses for security, its means of access must be changed or reset so that the new tenant, and only the new tenant, has access (in addition to the landlord and authorized agents of the landlord). This will certainly stimulate the economy for locksmiths in Cook County.


Jimfavreur said...

Shouldn't there be something in the apartment rental agreement that says something to this affect. Always have to read that fine print. Thanks for the info!

Teresa Morales said...

This Law is awesome! I hope the Slumlords of Illinois have been made aware of this New Law!!