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AMENDMENT TO COOK COUNTY HUMAN RIGHTS ORDINANCE

July 18, 2013

New Section 8 Rules for Cook County Landlords

The Cook County Commission will add protections for Source of Income beginning Aug. 8. The policy has implications for real estate agents and residential property owners who rent property in Cook County.

Cook County recently amended its Human Rights Ordinance to delete an exception to the source of income provisions in the Cook County Human Rights Ordinance.  The effect of the amendment will be to make it a violation of the Cook County Human Rights Ordinance to discriminate in real estate transactions based upon an individual participating in a housing choice voucher program (Section 8).  Source of Income has been a protected class under the Cook County Human Rights Ordinance for a number of years but there has been an exception which excluded housing choice voucher programs from that protected class.  Effective on August 8, 2013 that exception will no longer apply and the taking of action in a real estate transaction based on a person’s participation in a housing choice voucher program will be a violation of the Cook County Human Rights Ordinance.

The impact of this change in the Cook County Human Rights Ordinance is primarily going to affect rental of housing in Cook County.  The Ordinance would prohibit the making of “. . . any distinction, discrimination or restriction in the price, terms, conditions, privileges of any real estate transaction, including the decision to engage in or renew any real estate transaction, on the basis of unlawful discrimination.”  To the extent that a decision is made upon a person’s participation in a Section 8 or housing choice voucher program this will constitute illegal discrimination under the Ordinance.   

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