Reopening Chicago: What Phase 3 Means for Chicago Apartments

On June 3, 2020 Chicago moved into Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois plan to safely reopen the state during the Coronavirus pandemic. The city was lagging behind other municipalities in Illinois, due to its larger size and higher number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, but Phase 3, aka the “Recovery” stage of the reopening plan, kicked off for Chicago on Wednesday. 

What Is ‘Phase 3’ of the Illinois Recovery Plan & What Does It Mean for Real Estate Professionals in Chicago?

Phase 3 allows for the reopening of businesses such as manufacturing, retail, offices, real estate service professionals, barbershops and salons -- with restrictions in place. Face coverings are the norm. Capacity is reduced to half for most brick and mortar businesses and gatherings larger than 10 people are still prohibited. Businesses with windows or doors that can be opened are encouraged to leave them open and allow fresh air to circulate within a space. Is it “back to normal?” Not quite. But it’s a semblance of life pre-quarantine and that’s a welcome sign for many renters, landlords and real estate brokers in Chicago.

Starting May 29, brokers and real estate agents in Illinois are allowed to resume hosting in-person showings and open houses, subject to certain restrictions. There are required safety guidelines for those who do return to in-person apartment showings, such as limiting the number of people attending open houses along with disinfecting before and after each showing, and obtaining a tenant’s consent prior to showing an occupied apartment.

Can Landlords & Real Estate Brokers Host Open Houses Now?

Open houses are allowed to resume in Phase 3, but again there are restrictions. Groups should be kept under 10 people at all times. Disinfectants should be at the ready so that brokers or landlords can easily wipe down surfaces in common areas (door handles, light switches, counter tops, etc.). Foot coverings are nice to have at open houses because these will prevent dirt getting tracked through a clean apartment. But they can also prevent the unintentional spread of germs. 

Booking open houses back-to-back isn’t a good idea. Landlords, brokers and agents should allow at least 10-15 minutes between open houses for cleaning and disinfecting apartments

Are Landlords Allowed to Host In-Person Showings of Rental Apartments Without the Current Tenant’s Permission?

With the Coronavirus pandemic still very fresh in mind, does a tenant have any say whatsoever about allowing in-person showings while they’re still living in the apartment?

Yes, they do. According to the “Phase 3: Recovery Guidance” of the Division of Real Estate of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, showings of occupied rental units are NOT allowed without the tenant’s express consent. Apartments that fall under the provisions of the Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance (CRLTO) have a requirement for landlords to provide 24 hours’ notice if they want to enter the apartment for any non-emergencies; and this includes showing the apartment to a prospective renter (Note: the CRLTO doesn’t apply to all apartments and homes in Chicago -- check the terms of your apartment lease agreement for specific guidance on required notice for landlords entering the apartment). 

Advice for Hosting In-Person Apartment Showings 

Showing occupied apartments requires additional precautions. First and foremost, follow the guidelines set forth by state public health officials. If you’re going to tour an apartment, ask yourself if the tour can be done remotely -- it’s still safer and it’s definitely more convenient. Read Domu’s guide to virtual apartment tours to see if this is the best option for your upcoming tour.

If it’s all clear to go ahead with an in-person tour then make sure to wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth, frequently wash hands, avoid touching your face and try to maintain six feet of distance at all times.