Explaining the Cook County(unincorporated) Zoning Use Certificate Ordinance

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For those members practicing in areas which include unincorporated Cook County, take note that effective March 21, 2015 a new application procedure became effective for sellers of real property.

The ordinance requires sellers of property to apply for a Zoning Use Certificate when the property goes under contract for sale. Sellers are required to complete an application form [http://www.cookcountyil.gov/building-and-zoning/] and pay a $100 fee seeking a Zoning Use Certificate.

The Cook County Zoning Administrator will either issue or deny the certificate. If denied, the Administrator will state the reasons for denial. The stated goal of this requirement is to prevent surprises to buyers that might limit their ability to use the property for the buyer’s intended purpose. Individual units in condominium and co-op buildings are exempt from this requirement.

Definitions in the ordinance speak to the seller or the “seller’s agent,” which, depending upon the facts, could be our members. However, the Illinois Association of REALTORS®’ Legal Team recommends that licensees not complete the form, but make sure that the seller or his “legal” agent, i.e. his attorney-at-law or attorney-in-fact (power of attorney) complete the form since the seller is asked to make certain representations about the property that the real estate broker may or may not know.

It is important for our members to be aware of this new requirement so that they can be an information source for their clients. Brokers can direct their clients to the form and to their attorneys if the seller has any concerns about providing the information and answering the questions on the application form.

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