NDAs for renters? This Chicago landlord won’t negotiate without one

Mac Properties said the company would discuss rent relief options, but only if it’s “structured to the individual”

Apartment landlord Mac Properties is open to negotiating rent payment plans with its tenants as long as those discussions are kept secret.

In what appears to be a first of its kind, the Chicago-based landlord is requiring tenants to sign nondisclosure agreements before they can negotiate a payment plan, according to a report in Block Club. Tenants who are financially stressed from the coronavirus crisis are seeking the relief.

The NDA — which is far more common in corporate America and between employer and employee — includes a promise not to “disparage” the company, according to the report.

Most Chicago landlords were able to collect full rent payments for April, but a larger share of missed or partial payments are expected in May.

Although evictions can’t be carried out during the pandemic, city and state officials have not instituted a rent freeze. Any change in rent obligations would have to be negotiated between tenants and landlords.

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Mac Properties manages about 5,000 units across 100 properties in the city. A company representative, Peter Cassel, said the agreement was in place so tenants don’t get the wrong idea of what sort of rent relief agreement they can expect.

“Each [agreement] is structured to the individual,” Cassel said, according to Book Club. “Having an expectation of what other people have been able to structure … is not helpful to solving each individual’s issues.”

Mac Properties sent a letter at the end of March outlining its general policy on rent relief. The company wouldn’t commit to waiving rents, but said that tenants could pursue “a path to lease termination,” or move into a cheaper unit.

Cassel said that company management hopes that tenants who remain employed and financially stable would continue to pay rent.

The tenants group, Mac Tenants United, criticized the NDA. One memberm, Zak Witus, said the organization’s expectation is that “they will deal with us as a union… and won’t try to divide us.” Around 50 members of Mac Tenants United are withholding rent payments. [Block Club Chicago] — Dennis Lynch

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