In June, this blog discussed a new ordinance adopted by the Chicago City Council, dubbed “Keep Chicago Renting”, intended to protect the City’s renter population from the negative effects of an increasing number of foreclosures. Late last month, the legislation became effective, and now requires any entity or individual attempting to foreclosure on Chicago real estate to provide tenants of the property either a rent-controlled lease or pay the renter a “relocation assistance” fee of $10,600.
According to one report, in 2009, occupants of over 8,500 rental units in Chicago were forced out of their homes by foreclosures. The report estimated the cost of those foreclosure to renters at more than $7.3 million due to lost security deposits. According to another study, conducted by the Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing banks were systematically emptying foreclosed buildings and then leaving them vacant for months or years. The Committee also concluded that nearly 52,000 rental units fell into foreclosure in Chicago between 2009 and 2011.
The Keep Chicago Renting ordinance boasts several purposes: preserve the rental environment, prevent further loss of property values, avoid and preserve rental housing stock, mitigate losses to area property values, avoid neighborhood instability caused by foreclosures, and protect, maintain, and improve foreclosed rental properties.
According to John McDermott, Housing and Land Use Director for the Logan Square Neighborhood Association, 725 rental units in Chicago are taken over by banks at foreclosure auctions every month. The ordinance is, however, expected to mitigate this problem by protecting approximately 10,000 families from foreclosures every year.
Diane Limas of the Albany Park Neighborhood Council, praised the new legislation, citing stories of renters that had fallen victim to bullying by banks seeking to enforce foreclosures. According to Limas, some banks were kicking renters out of buildings by changing locks in the middle of the night, giving unlawful notices to renters, shutting off utilities, and using threats of deportation.
Alderman Joe Moreno of the First Ward, a co-sponsor of the ordinance, maintained that the ordinance was necessary to provide long-term protection to Chicago tenants. “This is not just a Band-Aid, like, hey you’re going to get an extra month or two on your lease. We’re talking about extra years people will get to remain in their homes,” claimed Moreno.
As this blog has mentioned before, both the Illinois and Chicago laws governing landlord-tenant relationships can be very complex and, although the provisions of the ordinance clearly favor tenants, it has yet to be seen how those protections can be taken advantage of. Accordingly, it is almost always in the best interest of a tenant that has become embroiled in a dispute with his or her landlord to consult with an experienced Chicago tenants’ rights attorney.
If you have questions regarding the rights and obligations you have as a tenant or believe you have been the victim of the unfair practices of a landlord, contact the experienced real estate attorneys at The Slater Firm, Ltd. today.