Each year more than 20,000 people are evicted from their homes in Chicago. Tens of thousands more experience problems with the conditions in their homes or with disputes over security deposits. There are not nearly enough legal aid or pro bono lawyers to help every low-income tenant who encounters these issues. So how do we help these renters diagnose their legal issues, understand their rights, and choose the best option for solving their problem?
Rentervention is a free resource for Chicago renters facing housing issues. It is a joint project of the Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing , Illinois Legal Aid Online , the Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois , and other advocates dedicated to helping Chicago tenants.
To get started, tenants can go to www.rentervention.com or text “hi” to 866-7RENTER to start a conversation with Renny, Rentervention’s bot. Renny can help with evictions, utility shutoffs, problems with security deposits, and issues with housing conditions. There is no need to create an account and users can save their conversation for later, if they need to find a document or move from texting to working on a computer. No matter which method they use to communicate with Renny, users get comprehensive assistance tailored to their needs.
As tenants answer plain-language questions about their problems, Renny provides information about the best options for resolving them. These options include helping them write a letter to their landlord or complete a legal form. In some cases, Renny will refer tenants to other resources, such as Chicago’s 311 hotline or a social service agency. Renny might also see if they qualify to talk to a Rentervention lawyer free of charge. A few days later, Renny might text the user to ask how everything went and offer more assistance, if needed.
Free Lawyer Assistance
If a tenant qualifies for help from a Rentervention lawyer, the chat transcript and any documents that they’ve uploaded or generated will be waiting in Rentervention’s Virtual Clinic. This allows the lawyer to offer services quickly, without re-starting the process from the beginning.