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Illinois Legislature to Consider Bill Prohibiting Landlord Disclosure of Immigration Status

By Michael Klazema on 3/21/2019

With the topic of undocumented immigration at the forefront of discussion both in public and in statehouses across the country, every legislative session includes a steady stream of related bills proposed and debated. Among the most divisive topics is the "sanctuary city" concept, in which local municipalities limit actions that could lead federal immigration authorities to detain and deport individuals. Some states, including California, have taken steps at a broad level to both enable cities to make these choices and enforce statewide rules.

In Illinois, lawmakers in the state House of Representatives will soon reconsider a bill that would enact new restrictions on landlords throughout the state. Called the Immigrant Tenant Protection Act, the law prohibits landlords from alerting authorities to a tenant's immigration status as a form of retaliation, e.g., during a rent or maintenance dispute. Opponents argue that the bill would restrict landlords from disclosing the immigration status of their tenants in any scenario and represents an unconstitutional overreach into matters of business and safety. 

The law in California, also named the Immigrant Tenant Protection Act, curtailed the ability of landlords to inquire about citizenship as a condition of tenancy. The Illinois bill does not specifically make any such provision. In fact, the text of the bill stipulates that it does not alter a landlord's ability to make tenancy decisions based on state law. 

The bill's author, Senator Cristina Castro, contends that its purpose is to allow all immigrants the opportunity to live free from fear in their own dwellings. The ITPA passed the Illinois Senate by a vote of 34 to 16. It is now in committee in the House, according to the SE Illinois News.

This is not the first time the Illinois legislature has considered the ITPA. In 2018's legislative session, the bill, along with four other related laws, passed and went to then-governor Bruce Rauner's desk. There it received a veto, with Rauner saying it would usurp federal authority and contravene federal law, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Now out of power, Rauner's Democratic replacement JB Pritzker may take a different tack towards the bill should it again arrive at the governor's mansion. 

For landlords, the process of selecting and vetting tenants is reportedly already a difficult process. Illinois's proposed law highlights the importance of vetting tenants prior to accepting their applications. The right tools can make a simpler affair out of navigating that process in a fair and compliant manner. 

backgroundchecks.com provides several services that can prove invaluable when screening tenants and choosing to whom you will rent property. These include a comprehensive sex offender registry search along with more wide-reaching reports, such as the multi-jurisdictional US OneSEARCH criminal background report. With the ability to better understand those applying for a rental lease on a property, landlords can continue to fully exercise their rights in this regard. 

 

Sources:

https://seillinoisnews.com/stories/512228502-righter-speaks-out-against-bill-forbidding-landlords-from-reporting-illegal-tenants

https://chicago.suntimes.com/news/rauner-veto-three-bad-immigration-bills-sanctuary-illegal-immigration/ 


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