Rep. Daniel Didech

Filed: 2/15/2022





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2    AMENDMENT NO. ______. Amend House Bill 4374 by replacing
3everything after the enacting clause with the following:
4    "Section 1. Short title. This Act may be cited as the
5Vacancy Fraud Act.
6    Section 5. Public policy. Certain commercial properties in
7Cook County receive a vacancy reduction because they are
8partly or completely vacant. In order to revitalize struggling
9commercial corridors and foster economic development in Cook
10County commercial corridors, it is imperative that owners of
11commercial properties that receive a vacancy reduction attempt
12to lease or sell those properties or make the alterations or
13modifications necessary to lease or sell those properties.
14    The General Assembly finds that it is against public
15policy for commercial property owners to receive a vacancy
16reduction without attempting to lease or sell those properties



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1or make the modifications or alterations necessary to lease or
2sell those properties because it burdens homeowners and
3actively operating businesses, lessens the taxing districts'
4tax bases, and causes blight in commercial corridors.
5    Section 10. Definitions. As used in this Act:
6    "Subject property" means real property located in a county
7with 3,000,000 or more inhabitants, or a portion of that
8property, that is designated or zoned for commercial or
9business use and receives a vacancy reduction. With respect to
10real property that is zoned or designated as mixed-use
11property, this Act applies only to that portion designated or
12zoned for commercial or business use.
13    "Vacancy reduction" means a decrease in assessed value, a
14decrease in market value, or an abatement of taxes by the chief
15county assessment officer, a board of review, a county, or a
16taxing district, which is permitted by ordinance, resolution,
17or policy granting such a decrease in assessed value to
18property that is vacant.
19    Section 15. Vacancy fraud complaints.
20    (a) The board of review in a county with 3,000,000 or more
21inhabitants is authorized to hear vacancy fraud complaints
22brought no more than 5 years after the vacancy fraud occurred.
23No vacancy fraud complaints may be brought for vacancy
24reductions that were granted prior to the effective date of



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1this Act. If there is no actively installed or operating board
2of review, the chief county assessment officer is authorized
3to designate a department or official to hear those
4complaints. If the chief county assessment officer designates
5a department or official to hear complaints because there is
6no actively installed or operating board of review, then
7references to the board of review in this Act shall mean the
8designated department or official.
9    (b) Beginning on January 1, 2023, any owner of real
10property located in a county with 3,000,000 or more
11inhabitants may file a written vacancy fraud complaint with
12the appropriately designated board of review within the
13applicable filing period set forth in subsection (a) alleging
14that the subject property has received a vacancy reduction and
15that the owner of the subject property is not actively
16attempting to lease, sell, alter, or modify the property to
17prepare it for sale or lease. The board of review shall
18determine the process by which a vacancy fraud complaint may
19be filed.
20    (c) Only one vacancy fraud complaint shall be considered
21and heard by the board of review for each instance a property
22received a vacancy reduction. The decision of the board of
23review shall be binding on future complaints based on the same
24vacancy fraud reduction in the same year. If more than one
25vacancy fraud complaint is pending concurrently, those
26complaints shall be consolidated.



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1    (d) The party alleging vacancy fraud shall file the
2appropriate notice and documents, as prescribed by the board
3of review, in the manner determined by the board of review.
4Vacancy fraud complaints may be filed by the party alleging
5vacancy fraud or an attorney acting on that party's behalf.
6    (e) Upon receipt of a written complaint that is timely
7filed, the board of review shall process the complaint and
8provide the appropriate notice to the property that is the
9subject of the complaint. The board of review that will hear
10the vacancy fraud complaint shall establish the process by
11which notice shall be provided and by which complaints shall
12be heard.
13    Section 20. Factors in determining vacancy fraud.
14    (a) In determining whether the owner of a subject property
15is actively attempting to sell or lease the subject property
16or actively attempting to modify or alter the subject property
17for sale or lease, the board may consider the following
19        (1) whether there is a sign on the subject property
20    advertising that it is for sale or for lease;
21        (2) whether the subject property is advertised for
22    sale or for lease in a newspaper of general circulation
23    where the property is located;
24        (3) whether the subject property is advertised for
25    sale or for lease on the internet, and whether potential



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1    buyers or tenants are reasonably able to access the
2    internet listing;
3        (4) whether the owner of the subject property has
4    contracted for the services of an Illinois licensed real
5    estate professional for the purpose of selling or leasing
6    the subject property;
7        (5) whether any advertised sale price or advertised
8    rental price for the subject property is excessive;
9        (6) whether a contract for sale or lease of the
10    subject property is pending;
11        (7) whether the subject property is subsequently sold
12    or leased and the amount of time that passed from the
13    original vacancy until the sale or lease date;
14        (8) whether the owner has applied for and received
15    demolition or construction permits for the subject
16    property;
17        (9) whether the owner has responded to inquiries to
18    lease or sell the property;
19        (10) whether the property has been altered or modified
20    for the purpose of leasing or selling the property;
21        (11) whether the property owner has attempted to
22    lease, sell, or alter or modify the subject property but
23    has not been able to proceed because of the inability to
24    obtain permits or because court proceedings involving
25    prior renters have precluded such action; and
26        (12) any other factors the board deems necessary to



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1    determine if the owner of the subject property is actively
2    attempting to lease or sell the subject property or
3    actively attempting to modify or alter the subject
4    property for sale or lease.
5    (b) For purposes of paragraphs (1), (2), and (3) of
6subsection (a), any signs, newspaper advertisements, or
7internet advertisements shall contain valid contact
8information for the owner or agent of the property. If the
9contact information does not connect potential tenants or
10buyers to a person who can facilitate the purchase or lease of
11the subject property, or if the owner or agent does not respond
12to the inquiry within 30 days, the signs, newspaper
13advertisements, or internet advertisements may be disregarded
14in the determination of whether a property owner was actively
15attempting to sell or lease the subject property or actively
16attempting to modify or alter the subject property for sale or
18    Section 25. Penalties.
19    (a) Before assessing any penalties under this Act, the
20board of review shall give notice of the complaint to the chief
21county assessment officer who certified the vacancy relief and
22give the chief county assessment officer an opportunity to be
23heard on the matter.
24    (b) Upon determining that an owner of a subject property
25is not actively attempting to sell or lease the subject



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1property, or actively attempting to alter or modify the
2subject property for sale or lease, the board of review may
3direct the chief county assessment officer to do any of the
5        (1) require from the owner of the subject property the
6    payment of up to 3 times the amount of back taxes owed for
7    any vacancy reduction the subject property received for
8    the period in which the subject property received the
9    reduction but was found to have engaged in vacancy fraud
10    as defined in this Act; and
11        (2) require from the owner of the subject property the
12    payment of interest of up to 10% per annum on any back
13    taxes sought under paragraph (1).
14    (c) The unpaid taxes shall be paid to the appropriate
15taxing districts in the manner provided for the payment of
16property taxes under the Property Tax Code and allocated to
17fund the implementation of this Act. Interest and penalties
18shall be paid to the chief county assessment officer's office
19to cover the costs associated with educating the public on the
20provisions of this Act.
21    (d) No penalties shall be assessed until the person to be
22affected has been notified and given an opportunity to be
24    Section 99. Effective date. This Act takes effect upon
25becoming law.".