Last week, NBC Chicago published a story discussing the plight of America’s renters, particularly those in Chicago, suffering from the increasing difficulty in finding affordable rental housing. The article references a study released by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, indicating that over half of all renters nationwide shelled out 30 percent or more of their income for housing in 2010. This massive percentage represented an increase of 12 percent over the last ten years.
According to the report, the average monthly rent was $725, excluding utilities, and $843, including utilities. The increase in housing costs have been exceptionally troublesome in Chicago, where the median monthly gross rent went from $780 to $916, a jump of over 17 percent, from 2000 to 2010. Further, due to these dramatic increases, Chicago reported an 11.4 percent increase in the number of homeless families from 2012, and requests for emergency food assistance went up 6 percent.
In addition, the report found that the number of Chicago renters allocating more than 30 percent of their income to housing costs vaulted by 32.5 percent. Even more shocking is how much those numbers increase at rent levels in excess of $1,000. The percentage of tenants with rent between $1000 and $1500 that paid more 30 percent of their total income went up 115.6 percent over the last ten years.
The study concludes that the soaring costs of housing requires renters to cut back on in other areas, spending, on average, $130 a month less on food and spending less on health care and retirement. Further, according to a report released by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, higher housing costs logically results in to higher rates of homelessness.
As this blog has discussed recently, both the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago are taking steps to curb the problems cause by high housing costs. 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. That legislation became effective in October 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.
Earlier this month, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn declared more than 1,470 affordable apartments will be created or preserved across the state. In September, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel proposed an incentive offer to help developers rehabilitate the Rosenwald Apartments at 4600 S. Michigan.
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.