Retaliation by landlords is illegal. Know your rights, stay the course, and win
May 24, 2016 – 12:14 PM | No Comment

After Carl (not his real name) repeatedly contacted his landlord about needed repairs in his apartment, without success, he didn’t know what to do.  He had rented the apartment in a Pilsen three-flat when he …

Read the full story »
Evictions & Foreclosures

Guides about evictions, foreclosures, and moving out.

Apartment Conditions & Repair

Find out how to address repair issues with your landlord.

Leases & Security Deposits

Starting and ending the rental agreement; security deposits.

Heat, Utilities & Other Essential Services

Gas or water turned off? No heat in your apartment? Click here.

Lockouts and Retaliation

Lockouts, unlawful landlord entry and more.

Latest News, MTO News »

Retaliation by landlords is illegal. Know your rights, stay the course, and win
After Carl (not his real name) repeatedly contacted his landlord about needed repairs in his apartment, without success, he didn’t know what to do.  He had rented the apartment in a Pilsen three-flat when he moved to town to accept a job as an associate professor at a local community college.  As someone who always paid his rent, he never expected to have an issue with his landlord.  

Attorney Joan Fenstermaker

Attorney Joan Fenstermaker

Carl was sure he had a right to demand that repairs be made, but he didn’t know how to make that happen.  Eventually, he heard about Metropolitan Tenants Organization’s Hotline (773-292-4988) and called seeking help – that was in September 2012.  After discussing his situation with a Hotline Counselor, he was counseled that for his next step he might want to consult a lawyer. 

MTO referred him to Joan Fenstermaker, an attorney who often represents clients referred by MTO. She drafted a “demand letter” for Carl and sent it to his landlord, asking for the needed repairs to be made and informing the landlord that he would be reducing his rent check until the repairs were complete (following the guidelines that are part of the city’s Residential Landlord Tenants Ordinance). 

Twice the landlord refused to accept the demand letter, sent via certified mail.  And, instead of sending workers to repair the building problems, the landlord sent an Eviction Notice. Fenstermaker immediately contested the eviction case, claiming it was retaliatory, and demanded a jury trial. The jury agreed, and the Judge threw the eviction case out. 

Fenstermaker then filed a lawsuit of her own seeking compensation on Carl’s behalf.  The lawsuit outlined all of the previously cited issues and added the new charges of illegal late fees (charged when he lowered his rent payments), an illegal lockout from his garage space, and the retaliatory eviction.  
 
When the case went to trial in February, the judge ordered the landlord to pay Carl $10,642.73, along with legal fees – proof that tenants do have rights, even if they sometimes have to fight for them.

 

Malcolm X, Gentrification and Housing as a Human Right Malcolm X, Gentrification and Housing as a Human Right

Every day the Metropolitan Tenants Organization works with renters who are facing the negative effects of gentrification and other economic forces that threaten their housing. Thousands of low-income renters and homeowners are displaced every year …

MTO’s 2016 Spring Event MTO’s 2016 Spring Event

State & Madison, 1966
 Fifty Years After Freedom Summer / And the Fight Goes On
This year’s Spring Event recognizes the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer  — the Chicago Campaign, when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. came …

BMO Harris Bank and Millennium Properties Still Stalling on Englewood Apartment Building BMO Harris Bank and Millennium Properties Still Stalling on Englewood Apartment Building

BMO Harris Bank, once one of Chicago’s proudest banking institutions, moved to foreclose on the 24-unit complex at 72nd & Wentworth in April of 2015. When banks foreclose on buildings, the law requires them to …

We Know How To Stop The Epidemic Of Lead Poisoning. Why Aren’t We? We Know How To Stop The Epidemic Of Lead Poisoning. Why Aren’t We?

We know exactly how to eliminate lead hazards to keep children safe. Yet federal regulations that are supposed to protect families in any kind of housing, public and private, have lagged far behind current scientific …