Willis Introduces Bill to Hold Negligent Landlords Accountable for Dangerous Buildings

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – In an effort to better protect first responders who report to dilapidated buildings which could pose a threat to their safety, state Rep. Kathleen Willis, D – Addison, recently introduced a bill to hold negligent landlords accountable.

“I am committed to passing common-sense safety measures that will protect our first responders,” said Willis. “We have seen instances where first responders were injured or lost their lives due to the neglect of landlords to follow building codes and address the hazardous state of their buildings.”

House Bill 531 would create a new offense in Illinois. If a first responder is injured or killed while attending to a call, and if the death or injury is deemed to be the result of the negligent state of the property, that property owner would face criminal penalties. In order for the crime to be committed, it must be determined by investigators that the building was in violation of a local code. Such violations of the new law would be a Class 4 felony, which typically means a one to three-year prison term. The idea for the legislation came in 2015, after the death of Chicago firefighter Daniel Capuano, who passed away after falling through an open elevator shaft while responding to a call. The shaft was in violation of building code for the City of Chicago.

“Our first responders put their lives on the line every day,” said Willis. “This legislation will help to ensure that those who would rather skip on keeping their buildings maintained are held accountable if their negligence results in the injury or death of our men and women in uniform.”

Willis is serving her third term in the Illinois General Assembly as State Representative of the 77th District, which includes O’Hare Airport and portions of Addison, Bellwood, Bensenville, Franklin Park, Maywood, Melrose Park, Northlake, Stone Park, and Wood Dale.