The housing landscape of many Chicago neighborhoods is changing quickly, especially in terms of affordability and stability. Buildings are being sold to developers, many times from outside Chicago, who increase rents and push out long-term residents. Humboldt Park is one of these neighborhoods. Tenants living in a 44 unit apartment building in Humboldt Park received notices informing them the building had a new owner and they had 30 days to move. As soon as the notices expired, the remaining 20 remaining tenants, who were unable to move, had evictions filed against them by the cash investors who purchased the building. LCBH attorneys tackled this matter head on in both eviction and building courts.
With the assistance of the Metropolitan Tenants Organization (MTO), a citywide organization that helps tenants organize to assert their collective rights, LCBH was able to form a tenants association to request more time and relocation assistance from the new landlord. These requests were ignored.
In the meantime, the new owner began rehabbing the building. The construction caused dust and debris to fill the hallways and seep into tenants’ units, windows were boarded up, and workers failed to secure empty units when they were not working in them. Multiple tenants were also struggling with bad plumbing and bed bug infestations, which the previous owner failed to rectify. The tenants association filed a motion in building court because of the hazardous construction work and the inhabitable conditions in many of the units. However, the weekend prior to a building inspection and court hearing, the owner posted construction notices, completed much of the façade renovation, repaired plumbing and claimed to have hired a pest professional for the bedbugs. Since the owner was able to demonstrate their improvements, the case was dismissed.
After the case in building court was dismissed, the tenants still had eviction cases looming over their heads. LCBH was able to reach a settlement for the remaining residents. Rather than fight out each of the evictions, the new owner agreed to waive all unpaid rent, provide $1000 in relocation assistance, and seal all of the eviction case files, in exchange for firm move-out dates. The outcome of the case ensured that tenants were living in more-or-less habitable conditions; allowed tenants time to look for new housing; and preserved their credit by not having an eviction on their record which also helped with the new home search. Though their housing was not preserved, tenants in this Humboldt Park building refused to be ignored, and were able to move with dignity!