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Insecure in Your Own Home

What It Means To Rent in Illinois - Findings and Recommendations from the Illinois Renters Survey
January 2006

The goal of the Illinois Renters Survey was to understand the experience of renters in Illinois in order to determine how best to improve the landlord-tenant relationship and, ultimately, the quality of life for Illinois renters.

Three-hundred and ninety-six Illinois residents from across the state responded to the survey. The typical respondent lived in an unsubsidized property that was not owner-occupied. They had a family size between two and three and made $10,000 per year or less. Over 80% of tenants paid their landlord a security deposit for their rental unit.

Locked Out

Barriers to Choice for Housing Voucher Holders
June 2002

For over 20 years, the Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing, Inc. (LCBH) has been the premier public interest law firm specializing in housing law and policy in Chicago. LCBH’s mission is to increase the availability of safe, decent, and affordable housing for people of low and moderate income in the City of Chicago through legal and public advocacy and community education.

No Time for Justice

A Study of Chicago’s Eviction Court
December 2003

Residential landlords and tenants participate in contractual relationships in which the landlord provides habitable housing and tenants pay their rent on time. Although the success of these relationships is essential to the health of the community, tens of thousands end up in court each year. In 2002, 35,799 cases were filed in Chicago’s forcible entry and detainer courts, most being landlord and tenant disputes over nonpayment of rent. Eviction courts exist to protect tenants from wrongful evictions and potentially violent confrontations with their landlord.

Vacant Properties

A Haven for Crime in a City Plagued by Violence
April 2013

On an average day in Chicago last year, seven reported crimes took place in vacant properties. This constitutes a 48% increase in the number of crimes reported in Chicago’s vacant buildings between 2005-2012. After foreclosure banks and lenders often empty rental buildings of law-abiding, rent-paying families, resulting in scores of new vacant buildings. As a result, there has been an astronomical increase in the number of vacant properties in Chicago at the same time that crime in vacant buildings has been on the rise.

2009 Foreclosure Report

Chicago Apartment Building Foreclosures: Impact on Tenants
April 2010

The foreclosure crisis has received close attention; however, there is insufficient examination of how this crisis has negatively affected tenants who rent units from landlords facing foreclosure. Particularly in urban areas with large rental populations, the impact of foreclosure on tenants has the potential to destabilize entire communities. Tenants are the invisible victims of foreclosure—they are often uninformed of their buildings’ foreclosures, frequently face severe violations of their rights, and consequently lose their housing stability.

2010 Foreclosure Report

Banks Avoid Foreclosure Laws, Uproot Renters: A Call for Enforcement of Tenant Protections
June 2011

LCBH’s Tenants in Foreclosure Intervention Project released its 2010 Report entitled "Banks Avoid Foreclosure Laws, Uproot Renters: A Call for Enforcement of Tenant Protections." This is the second annual report of the project and outlines the Community Areas at risk of destabilization due to the number and percentage of rental units either in foreclosure, or bank- or investor-owned. The report also examines the widespread violations of tenants’ rights that have come to LCBH’s attention through direct work with Chicago tenants.

2011 Foreclosure Report

Three Year Impact Assessment: Apartment Building Foreclosures and the Depletion of Rental Housing in Chicago
June 2012

Throughout the past three years Apartment Building foreclosure filing rates remain persistently high. LCBH found that from 2009 to 2011, more than 50,000 rental units went into foreclosure in Chicago, which comprises nine percent of Chicago’s entire rental housing stock. LCBH also found that more units in Apartment Buildings are impacted by foreclosure filings than were single-family and condominium units in Chicago, indicating that a greater number of renter households are likely affected than owner households.

2012 Foreclosure Report

Housing Instability For Renters Continues: Chicago Responds with Adoption of New Tenant Protections
June 2013

The 2012 report examines the impact of foreclosure on the Chicago rental market and renter households using LCBH’s most recent data and the results of renter surveys, and makes recommendations for renter advocacy in light of the new protections in Chicago. Conclusions drawn in this report are informed by data analysis, recent research, and direct testimonials from Chicago renters impacted by foreclosure.

The determination, dedication and optimism of a group of young, public-interest lawyers 25-years ago in Rogers Park laid a solid foundation for the Lawyers' Committee for Better Housing to address the housing issues of those most in need of legal representation. The founders' hard work and foresight allowed the fledgling organization to weather the storms common to the nonprofit world.

Darnell Reed came to LCBH in late 2007 through a referral by his sister, a former client. Like many of our clients, he was being threatened with eviction. Darnell’s wife had passed away a year earlier while he was living in Arlington Heights. Then he moved to Chicago and took a job at Jackson Park Hospital. Unfortunately, not long afterwards he was laid off since he was the most junior staff member.

As President of the Board of Directors of Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing, I am proud to present our organization’s 2008 Annual Report. This annual snapshot of LCBH reminds us of the vital need for our services in order to ensure safe, fair and affordable housing for all Chicagoans.

It is with great pride that we invite you to review our organization’s 2009 Annual Report. The accomplishments of Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing over the year have improved the lives of thousands of low-income tenants in Chicago. This yearly snapshot of LCBH reminds us of the vital needs for our services in order to ensure safe, fair, affordable housing for all Chicagoans.

2009 was a busy and exciting year for LCBH.

Lawyers’ Committee passed a milestone anniversary in 2010 – 30 years of standing up for and with tenants in Chicago. The organization celebrated with an Anniversary Reception in October, taking a brief timeout to review the agency’s history, reflect on the good work that has been done and the thousands of tenant families who have been assisted.

The housing and foreclosure crisis captured many headlines in 2011, and Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing continued to be the only organization in Chicago with legal and supportive services focused solely on rental families.

In the fourth year of this ongoing crisis, apartment building foreclosures left low-income families vulnerable to unscrupulous landlords who continued to collect rent and banks that forced them out and then abandoned the property. Once again, more rental units in Chicago were impacted by foreclosures than residential homes or condominiums.

As many have seen signs of the economic climate improving, the housing crisis continues to keep eroding at the quality of life for many in Chicago. The continued high rate of multi-unit buildings in foreclosure is changing the landscape of Chicago neighborhoods through disinvestment in poor neighborhoods and flipping in emerging neighborhoods. More renters of all income levels are feeling the pinch of escalating rents and the lack of available units.

You can avoid being evicted by coming to an agreement with your landlord. Your landlord does not have to agree to a settlement, but you may be able to convince them to work out a settlement with you. Most settlement agreements are included in a court order. The judge will almost always enter an order if the parties agree to it. There are 2 basic options for a settlement agreement: staying or leaving.

When the judge signs your order for eviction, s/he will usually give you around 14 days to move. The judge may let you have more time if you have recently been hospitalized, had a death in the family, or have had some other emergency. To ask a judge for more time to move out of your home, you will likely need to file a motion.

(312) 784-3507

We can help you find out if your building is in foreclosure and provide you information about your rights during and after the foreclosure.

(312) 347-7600

Are you a Chicago renter experiencing:

  • Eviction
  • A building foreclosure
  • Housing discrimination
  • Unsafe apartment conditions, such as bed bugs, mold or lead paint
  • An unresponsive landlord
  • Utility shut-off by your landlord
  • Issues with your landlord requiring the help of an attorney

Our staff can protect your rights and will work with you to reach the best solution for your situation in terms that you understand.

Access some of the key laws and legislation that define the rights and responsibilities of renters. Laws are organized by authority: US Federal, Illinois State, Cook County and City of Chicago and grouped by subject: Landlord/Tenant, Foreclosure, Discrimination and Domestic Violence.