Home Rule Units

Home Rule Authority

Under the Illinois Constitution, subject to certain specific exceptions, a home-rule municipality “may exercise any power and perform any function pertaining to its government affairs.” The following entities have home rule powers:

  • Municipalities of at least 25,000 in population;
  • Municipalities of any size if the voters approved home rule by referendum
  • Counties with an elected chief executive (only Cook County Government)
The most prominent feature of home rule authority is the power to impose a variety of taxes. A home rule unit cannot tax income. A home rule unit can incur debt. 


Since the enactment of home rule in 1970, several onerous ordinances have been enacted which affect real estate, including the following:
  • Residential landlord/tenant ordinances (Chicago and Mt. Prospect have such laws);
  • Multi-family Rental Licensure/Inspection ordinances;
  • Developer land dedications or cash-in-lieu for schools and parks;
  • Higher Property Tax Levies (Under the state law which imposes property tax caps, home rule units are exempt from the caps.);
  • Pre-sale home inspection ordinances;
  • Real Estate Transfer Tax (Under a state law enacted in 1997 and introduced by IAR, home rule units must seek voter approval in order to increase an existing transfer tax or impose a new one.)           
  • In recent years, local REALTOR® associations have been very successful in helping to defeat home rule referenda by writing to homeowners and discussing the implications of home rule for property owners.


Breakout Text: 

Issues Central

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