NW Side GOP's Podgorski cautions that new landlord law imperils 'individual liberty,' 'safety'
Matt Podgorski sees the passage of a law banning landlords in Cook County from delving into the criminal histories of prospective tenants as just the latest rights violation against the area's business owners.
“It’s another typical infringement on the rights of property and business owners to make decisions in their own best interest,” Podgorski, president of the Northwest Side GOP Club, told Prairie State Wire. “This is terrible because it also poses risks to other tenants not knowing who they might be living alongside of. It’s sort of an individual liberty issue for landlords and one of risk and safety for other tenants.”
Cook County Board of Commissioners formally adopted the law in April with the stated aim being to help citizens returning to society from imprisonment and those with arrest records find stable housing. Slated to formally go into effect in November, the law also bars landlords from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history until after their application is initially approved, and from denying them solely based on criminal convictions.
The rule was introduced by Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson back in March and aligns with federal guidelines adopted by the Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2016. In addition, the National Employment Law Project reports more than two-thirds of all states and 150 cities now have “ban the box” laws that prohibit employers from questioning applicants about criminal histories on their applications.
Podgorski said he just wants to see fairness in the system.
“I think what’s happening in Cook County is totally unfair and unnecessary,” he said. “As with a lot of legislation that starts off with good intentions, it will have unintended consequences that far outweigh any benefits. Both sides have to agree they want to live around one another and the landlord needs information to make an educated decision. I think the folks introducing this legislation demonstrate they don’t know how the real world works and are just producing legislation that makes them feel good.”