Ordinance will leave landlords liable for illicit activity

Officials in Chicago say that a small percentage of property managers have turned a blind eye to illegal activity taking place in their properties. A new city ordinance will make them more accountable for what happens under their roofs.

The city council has approved a new ordinance that would penalize landlords whose properties see more than a normal amount of police intervention because of illicit activity – which can include disorderly conduct, noise complaints and gang or drug activity. Owners of properties with "chronic illegal activity" – defined as a premises that experiences three or more police calls on three different days within a 90-day period – could be faced with penalties as high as $1000 for each offense and may have to cover any expenses the city incurs in responding to their call.

The ordinance also requires confirmation of illegal activity and enforcement action to take place in order for a landlord to be penalized, and exceptions are made for emergency services or domestic abuse cases.

"A small percentage of property owners habitually allow their property to be used for illegal activity or fail to take reasonable steps to prevent chronic illegal activity from occurring on their premises," said Mayor Richard Daley.

Landlords are expected to maintain the safety and security of their residences to benefit their tenants. Many might consider security features like additional outdoor lighting or home security systems to beef up their protective measures.