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Chicago Landlord’s Apartment Non-Smoking Ban Also Covers Cannabis

Now that marijuana consumption is legal in Chicago and Illinois, does the new law allow renters to light up a joint in their apartment, forget their troubles, and enjoy getting high?

“Nothing in the new Illinois law says that landlords are required to allow tenants or visitors to use cannabis on or in their property,” reports the Domu Landlord Newsletter.

“Because one of the most common ways of consuming cannabis is by smoking it, landlords who’ve already implemented a smoking ban for their apartments may consider the same guidelines when it comes to smoking cannabis in the apartment,” Domu advised.

Here is the text of a sample Non-Smoking Rider used by one North Side landlord:

Pursuant to the city of Chicago’s clean air ordinance, (insert property address) is a “Smoke-Free Building.” No smoking of any kind is allowed. Smoking is defined as cigarettes, cannabis, pipes, cigars, hookahs or any other lighted products.

The tenant and landlord agree that no smoking of any kind is allowed. Smoking is not permitted in the apartments or halls. The tenant agrees not to smoke in the property, within 15 feet of any entryway or in public areas connected to the property. Tenant will prohibit guests and visitors from smoking on the property or in the unit.

The landlord’s Non-Smoking rules coincide with an expansive non-smoking city ordinance. On December 7, 2005, the Chicago City Council passed a comprehensive clean air ordinance. The ordinance went into effect January 16, 2006 and was expanded on July 1, 2008.

Consequences for violating the landlord’s no-smoking policy may include smoking fines of $100 for the first offense, $250 for the second and $500 for the third offense.

What about medical marijuana?

Can a renter use medical cannabis in his or her apartment? Domu says the answer is no, but there are caveats. “Non-smoking areas can be enforced in an apartment building, including residential unit interiors, so that might limit the forms of consumption for medical cannabis in Chicago apartments,” Domu notes.

However, there are other ways of consuming medical cannabis that don’t involve smoking, such as ingestibles or tinctures. Those cannot be prohibited in apartments as long as the tenant holds a valid prescription.

Screening for criminal history

All Cook County landlords should revisit their tenant-screening process following the passage of the “Just Housing Ordinance” (JHO), which went into effect on December 31, 2019, Domu advises.

Prior to passage of the new law, Cook County landlords could ask applicants to disclose their criminal history before taking an apartment rental application. And landlords could refuse to show or lease an apartment for rent solely on the basis of an applicant’s criminal record.

According to civil rights advocates who lobbied for JHO, blanket housing discrimination based on an applicant’s criminal history leads to greater recidivism, homelessness and family instability, and is unfair to potential tenants who do not pose a risk to personal safety or property. However, JHO does not require landlords to rent an apartment to sex offenders.

FICO score could change

Credit scores for as many as 40 million Americans are about to change because of the growth of personal loans, credit experts say.

“Credit scores could drop by 20 points or more for millions of Americans, while scores also could rise by an equal number of people,” said Joanne Gaskin, vice president of scores and analytics at FICO, the company at the heart of the credit scoring system.

With more than $300 billion owed, personal loans are growing faster than any other consumer debt category. Many of these loans promise to lower the borrower’s interest rate by consolidating credit-card debt into a single loan.

For the first time, FICO is breaking out personal loans as a distinct category to determine whether borrows use them responsibly.

Let’s assume you pay off all your credit cards with one personal loan. Under the old system, your credit score might go up. But under the new approach, FICO will look back over a period of time—as far as two years—to see whether you’ve used the loan to reduce your high interest credit-card debt, or whether you’re using plastic as much as before, running up new revolving balances and falling deeper into debt.

A 20-point swing could mean you don’t qualify for that new apartment if the landlord requires a 700 FICO score, and you only have 680. If a lender requires a 740-point credit score to obtain a conventional mortgage, you could get rejected, or charged a higher interest rate, if your score is only 720.

For more housing news, visit Don DeBat is co-author of “Escaping Condo Jail,” the ultimate survival guide for condominium living. Visit

“The book is Escaping Condo Jail by Sara Benson and Don DeBat. I would say that anybody thinking about buying a condo, or even anybody serving on a condo board, or anybody who has any connection to a condo, this is must reading—all 600 and something pages. Thanks a lot for a great book!”


Steve Sanders, “Your Money Matters” WGN TV, December 22, 2014

By Don DeBat

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