The Immigrant Tenant Protection Act will make it illegal for Illinois landlords to retaliate against tenants by threatening to call Immigration and Customs Enforcement when they ask for repairs or for the return of their deposits. This law was passed by the legislature because of reports of landlords threatening to call ICE when immigrant tenants asked for repairs or for their deposits. A proposed Chicago ordinance would provide further protections by mandating inspections of rental units by the Health Department so that tenants would not have the burden of asking for needed repairs, reducing the chances that their landlords would report them to ICE.
The Immigrant Tenant Protection Act
The Immigrant Tenant Protect Act will make landlord retaliation against undocumented immigrants illegal in Illinois. Under the law, landlords will be prohibited from threatening to report their tenants’ immigrant statuses to ICE when their tenants ask them for repairs or for their security deposits. Landlords who violate the law can be sued by their tenants. The tenants will be able to file lawsuits against their landlords to seek monetary damages along with a civil penalty of up to $2,000. However, the new law may not go far enough. In Chicago, for example, the city’s landlord-tenant ordinance places the burden on tenants to ask for repairs they need. As a result, a new ordinance has been proposed which could help.
Chicago’s Proposed Ordinance
Chicago has proposed an ordinance to provide further protections to undocumented immigrants within the city. Some immigrants may fail to ask for repairs or for their security deposits because they are afraid their landlords will retaliate by calling ICE. Under the proposed ordinance, the city’s health department would be tasked with inspecting all of the rental units in the city once every five years. The health department would note deficiencies and require landlords to make repairs that are needed. This would help to protect the immigrant tenants even more than the protections that they will enjoy under the Immigrant Tenant Protection Act.
The new law flies in the face of the Trump Administration’s approach. The administration has proposed regulations that would require all landlords that provide subsidized housing and all public housing authorities to evict tenant households with one or more undocumented immigrants. This proposed federal regulation could place more than 50,000 children at risk.