Keep Chicago Renting Ordinance could protect 10,000 families during first year

Community leaders and Aldermen want renters across Chicago to know that the City's new Keep Chicago Renting Ordinance is in effect as of September 24th.  Alderman Ray Suarez (31st), chairman of the City Council's Housing & Real Estate Committee, made the announcement on September 24th in the Loop, accompanied by leaders of the Keep Chicago Renting Coalition and Aldermen Joe Moreno (1st), Walter Burnett (27th) and Deborah Mell (33rd).

The Logan Square Neighborhood Association (LSNA) is one of the key members of the Keep Chicago Renting Coalition, a coalition of community groups and unions that prompted passage of the ordinance in June.

The ordinance protects rent-paying, law-abiding tenants in foreclosed buildings.  When a building is sold at auction, the bank (or other foreclosing owner) must either keep renting to the tenants until the property is sold to a third party or pay a relocation fee of $10,600 per household.

The new ordinance will provide direct help to thousands of Chicago families.  If current trends hold, an estimated 10,000 rental units will be sold through foreclosure auctions over the next year with most becoming bank-owned, according to data compiled by the Lawyers Committee for Better Housing (LCBH).

In a survey of tenants who have been displaced by foreclosure, "over half of the households with children were forced to move their children to new schools as a result of their displacement," said Patricia Fron of the Lawyers Committee, which also found that 50 percent of families had to move into temporary housing (with relatives or in shelters) after their buildings became bank-owned.

Community leaders said banks also use unfair tactics to push renters out, such as offering small payments to leave immediately, turning off utilities, and, as happened to one family in Albany Park, actually starting to board up a building while tenants were inside.  Now, if banks utilize such tactics, tenants can receive as much as $21,200 in damages.

Tenants who live in foreclosed or bank-owned buildings in Logan Square, Avondale or Hermosa are encouraged to contact Tadeo Meleán of LSNA at 773-384-4370, ext. 15 or  Citywide, tenants seeking legal advice should call the Lawyers Committee for Better Housing at 312-347-7600.