Blog: Building / Apartment Conditions

Welcome to LCBH’s Blog. Our blog delivers original articles written by our staff, interns and volunteers. We strive to provide informative stories about the work we do on behalf of Chicago renters and the issues renters face.

LCBH in the Community

LCBH & the Anti Eviction Campaign
Anti Eviction Campaign

The Anti-Eviction Campaign, a grass roots organization working towards ending economically-motivated evictions in Chicago, hosts bi-weekly informational meetings.

LCBH participates in these meetings and provides legal information and brief services to renters facing no-fault evictions and lack of repairs due to foreclosure.

For more information about the Anti-Eviction Campaign please visit their website at http://chicagoantieviction.org/

Family survives housing crisis

In October of 2011, a dozen Albany Park families were on the verge of losing their homes and only had two weeks to move out. The building they lived in was going through foreclosure and to complicate matters, the owners had abandoned the property, leaving it replete with problems including a dangerous heating system, mold, faulty electrical wiring, and sewer backups. The pressing safety issues caused the city to place an order to swiftly vacate the property.

The families in this building included couples with small children, extended families and elderly couples enjoying their retirement years. They were very worried about moving and leaving the neighborhood they had come to love. They wondered whether they could find new affordable homes that were generally accessible, including accommodations for those with limited mobility. They worried about whether they would have to uproot their children from their schools and whether they would make new friends.

Savvy Renter

(1) Know Your Neighbors

  • Speak in the hallways, elevators, or laundry room. This will help you to stay on top of any new developments in the building, i.e. foreclosure, renovations, rent increases, etc.
  • For elderly renters, knowing your neighbors can be very beneficial in the case of an emergency or if you need someone close by to check on you occasionally.
  • Learn if your building already hosts regular meetings or has some has some sort of tenant’s union. If so, join this group. If not, start one.

(2) Know Your Landlord (or Building Manager)

  • It will be easier to ask for help or be up front with your landlord if you have any trouble with the building or your unit.
  • If you understand your landlord’s demeanor you will be more able to avoid conflict.
  • Even if your relationship with your landlord is not great, difficult landlords are often more willing to work with people that they know.

(3) Know Your Rights and Responsibilities

LCBH in the Community

LCBH at Howard Area Community Center (HACC)
Samira & Aileen present at HACC

LCBH attorneys Samira Nazem and Aileen Flanagan (pictured), recently spoke with an ESL class at the Howard Area Community Center (HACC) in Rogers Park about housing issues including landlord and tenant responsibilities, maintenance problems, evictions and lockouts, and foreclosure.

The class is made up of recent immigrant adults to the United States who are trying to improve their literacy and comprehension skills.

Referral information and fact sheets were also shared with the group. Megan Thompson, an AmeriCorps VISTA with LCBH, is a volunteer tutor for the community center and helped organize the event.

Thank You

In September, Eunice (see volunteer spotlight this issue) won a great victory for one of her clients’ and for LCBH. The clients were a couple whose landlord had filed an eviction against them for nonpayment of rent. They explained that they only started withholding rent payments when the landlord ceased to maintain their building

The landlord’s neglect rendered the building uninhabitable. It was infested with mice and bedbugs, the electricity was unreliable, and the hot water worked only late at night. There was mold throughout their unit; some of the windows were broken and were never repaired. The landlord refused to fix any of the conditions despite repeated requests both by the couple and the City. Upon review of the case, Eunice also discovered there were security deposit violations.

In response to the eviction, LCBH filed defenses and counterclaims against the landlord based on his mismanagement of both the building and the clients’ security deposit. Initially, the landlord wanted to go to trial but soon discovered it would not be successful. Eunice negotiated a very nice settlement for her clients and was also able to get the eviction case sealed to protect her client’s credit rating. Thanks to Eunice’s hard work and sharp negotiation skills, her client was able to use that money to move into a new apartment and have a fresh start!