In Chicago, its not just the bedbugs that come with a bite. The newly passed ordinance has some pretty staggering penalties. Based on my initial read of the bed bug legislation, there are two enforcement arms. Cases may be brought and the law may be enforced by both the City of Chicago Building Department for building code violations or by the Chicago Department of Public Health. (There is actually also a provision allowing the department of business affairs and consumer protection to enforce the section related to the sale of “second-hand bedding”).
Traditionally, in building court cases, a property owner can sometimes “defend” a case by correcting the problem prior to a building court hearing. Section 2-14-155 of the municipal code indicates the various defenses to a building code violation. The bed bug ordinance has expressly excluded violations of Sections 7-28-830 (landlords), 7-28-840 (condominium associations) and 7-28-850 (tenants) from those violations that can be remedied by correction prior to a court adjudication. That means that even if a landlord, condominium association, or tenant eventually complies, the violator can not assert the correction of the violation as a defense to the case against the violator. What does that really mean? Probably that there are going to be fines handed out to even those parties who comply before their court date. The city is basically like a parent saying “don’t make me come in there!”. They don’t want to deal with the problem and if the case makes it to court, you are probably too late. Burnt. Toast.
The city of Chicago probably does not like being the #1 bedbug city in the country.
Word to the wise. Don’t wait. Comply.
The penalty for noncompliance is heavy. It is contained in Section 7-28-900 which states:
7-28-900 Violation-penalties: Any person who is found in violation of this article shall be fined not less than $300.00 nor more than $1.000.00 for each offense. Each day that a violation continues shall constitute a separate and distinct offense to which a separate fine shall apply.
There you have it. A minimum of $300 per day. The City of Chicago just got real tough on the bedbug problem.