On December 31st 2019, Cook County’s Just Housing Amendment went into effect. These laws change what criminal histories can appear on rental applications, and Cook County real estate agents must be knowledgable and prepared to keep themselves and their clients fully compliant. Here’s the information you need to know about the Just Housing Amendment, and how Apply Now by Rental Beast—the online application engine available straight from the MRED platform—can keep every rental transaction quick and fully compliant.
What Are The New Cook County Laws?:
The new Cook County laws affect the following:
- The amount, and type of criminal history included rental applications
- The procedure by which housing providers review criminal histories
- What steps an applicant can take if their application is rejected due to criminal history
What Can Now Be Considered In Criminal Histories?
Criminal histories consideration is now limited to crimes the applicant was convicted of in the last three years.
The following cannot be considered and should no longer appear on any rental application:
- Any legal action without convictions—arrests, charges or citations
- Drug court, any juvenile arrest or conviction information, or any expunged and/or sealed convictions
- Any criminal conviction made over three years ago.
How Are Criminal Histories Reviewed?
If a person does have a criminal history that might warrant a denial of a rental unit, housing providers must conduct and document an Individualized Assessment.
An Individual Assessment is a full and holistic consideration of how the applicant’s criminal history might impact their performance as a tenant. Factors to consider during an Individualized Assessment are:
- Nature and severity of the conviction
- Nature of sentencing
- Number of convictions
- The length of time that has passed following the individuals most recent conviction
- Age of the individual at the time of the most recent conviction
- Evidence of rehabilitation
- The individual’s tenant history
What Steps Are Taken After An Individual Assessment?
A housing provider can still reject an applicant on the basis of a criminal history. However, they must give the applicant an explanation of their decision, and the applicant may dispute the rejection.
If the applicant chooses to dispute the decision, they have 5 business days to submit relevance evidence supporting their claim.
Stay legal and Compliant with Apply Now by Rental Beast
These laws change what information appears on a rental application, so Cook County agents must be careful to ensure that their clients’ applications do not include forbidden criminal history information.
To safeguard its agents and brokers, MRED has partnered with real estate tech provider Rental Beast to give all MRED agents unlimited access to Apply Now by Rental Beast. Apply Now keeps you entirely compliant with Cook County’s new laws, and can be accessed straight from the MRED platform by clicking on the “Rental Application” button in the “tools” section of a listing.
Want to use Apply Now for every rental listing? All MRED agents can claim a free Rental Beast Lite account and have easy, unlimited access to Apply Now (with the permission of the property owner). Build with the agent in mind, Apply Now keeps you in the loop—0n your Rental Beast account, you can also see real-time updates of every active rental application.
MRED Agents can claim their free Rental Beast Lite account, and start generating secure, fast applications.