Adopted in 1978, the Illinois Human Rights Act (“IHRA”) was intended to update state laws to make them more consistent with one another with the ultimate goal of prohibiting discrimination in employment, real estate transactions, financial credit, and access to public accommodations.
The IHRA prohibits “unlawful discrimination” based on “race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, age, sex, marital status, order of protection status, disability, military status, sexual orientation, or unfavorable discharge from military service” in connection with the lease, rental, sale or exchange of real property.
Under the IHRA, it is illegal to discriminate against the above-referenced groups by:
- Refusing to sell or rent, or refusing to negotiate for the sale or rental of a dwelling;
- Failing to accept or consider an offer to buy or to rent;
- Charging different prices or rents;
- Evicting tenants for a discriminatory purpose; or
- Denying or delaying the processing of an application made by a purchaser or renter.
One interesting provision of the IHRA is that which prohibits the inclusion of certain restrictive covenants in real estate documents. A restrictive covenant is a provision in a deed that places conditions on the transfer of real estate.
Under the IHRA, a restrictive covenant which, in any manner, limits the transfer of real estate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, age, sex, marital status, order of protection status, disability, military status, sexual orientation, or unfavorable discharge from military service is void and unenforceable. For example, it would be illegal for a deed to include a provision prohibiting a homeowner from selling or transferring his property to person of a certain race or ethnicity.
Not only does it violate the IHRA to include such a provision in a document, but it is also a violation to obey such a restrictive covenant.
Remedies For Violations Of The IHRA
With regard to violations of the IHRA related to real estate transactions, an individual who feels he or she has been unlawfully discriminated against may file a legal action against the offender in the Illinois Circuit Court in the county where the discriminatory conduct occurred. If successful in the legal action, the Court could award any or all the following remedies:
– A cease and desist order requiring the offender to stop engaging in prohibited discrimination;
– Statutory damages in an amount up to $10,000 for a first time violation, $25,000 for a second time violation, and up to $50,000 for subsequent violations;
– Actual damages for any injury or loss incurred as a result of the prohibited discrimination; and
– Fees and costs including attorney’s fees.
As this blog has mentioned before, both the Illinois and Chicago laws governing real estate transactions and landlord-tenant relationships can be very complex and difficult to navigate without knowledgeable legal counsel. Accordingly, it is almost always in the best interest to consult with an experienced Chicago tenants’ rights or real estate attorney when engaged in a real estate or tenancy dispute.
If you have questions regarding the rights and obligations you have as a tenant, owner or purchaser of real estate, or believe you have been the victim of the unfair practices of a landlord, contact the experienced real estate attorneys at The Slater Firm, Ltd. today.