June is National Healthy Homes Month… Do Those in Power Care?

June is Healthy Homes Month. The need to recognize this month poses the question: do policy makers, CEOs and property owners really care about people’s health or the housing they live in?

US health care expenditures totaled $3.3 trillion in 2016. This massive spending really did not help Tolanda McMullen’s family, especially her son who was severely poisoned by the lead paint in their Chicago home. Tolanda was shocked by her son’s poisoning as she felt lead was an issue of the past. It Is not and the poisoning haunts her family to this day. “My son will be forever impacted by lead and what is worse is this could have been prevented.” The sad fact is that so many illnesses, poisonings and hospital visits could be prevented if people’s homes were safe, healthy and affordable.

In the case of Tolanda’s son, all her landlord needed to do was to follow lead abatement protocols and repair the lead tainted windows. Profit won out. Window replacement is expensive. The landlord rented her an unhealthy and unsafe home because he could. After all, the assumption is that low-cost housing has problems otherwise it would not be low-income. This flawed belief is allowed to continue by policy makers and political leaders who excuse substandard conditions by saying that government cannot afford to do better.

For the entire month of June, MTO will tweet, write, photograph and otherwise scream out over social media to demand action on the part of public officials and property owners. No child should ever be poisoned by lead from their home. No child should miss school because home-based hazards triggered a child’s asthma. We ask you to support this campaign to forward these messages and images to friends, aldermen, the mayor, the governor and the president. In the end, there is nothing more important than our health and having a safe decent home in which to live.

The question is, how do we become better allies?

Today is International Women’s Day. On this day, women all across the world receive praises that go unsaid the rest of the year. It’s also a day for women like myself to reflect on what it means to be a woman, and how to stand better in solidarity with other women. Lately, I’ve been thinking about all the women that I’ve met throughout the years as a Healthy Homes Organizer and the struggles they’ve had to face. The story of Ms. May sticks out in my mind.

I first visited Ms. May this past January, to take a look at the peeling paint in her home and talk about how to prevent lead poisoning. When I arrived at the home, it immediately became clear that the situation was much worse than I had initially thought. There was ice on the staircase and a broken faucet, which had gone unchecked for nearly a week. That resulted in a giant ice rink near the house – a clear and present danger to Ms May. Inside the house, there was mold on the kitchen and bathroom walls and holes in the foundation. There were rat droppings from an infestation that had been inappropriately handled by her landlord, with serious consequences.

Last October she asked her landlord to deal with the rat problem. The landlord, instead of hiring an exterminator, had brought an unqualified person who ended up leaving a bag of rat poison pellets on top of the dining table.  Her three-year-old daughter confused the brightly colored pellets for cereal and ended up ingesting some. Fortunately, the quick actions by Ms May resulted in a full recovery for her little girl. I bring this particular story up, because my initial reaction was to judge. How could someone leave rat poison on the table? How could she not realize that a young child might be attracted to the brightly colored pellets?

It took me a few minutes before I checked myself and realized that situations like this were never that simple, and it usually was not the fault of one person. Ms May had done the best she could given her circumstances. It was her landlord who should have made the repairs, promptly and efficiently. But that did not happen. The exploitation of low-income tenants, in particular mothers and caretakers is something far too common in the housing market. Women in these situations more often than not have to take on the burden of child-rearing and making ends meet. Adding substandard housing further increases that burden, and the health consequences from inadequate housing are severe. We can’t make every home safe, but we can support the people living there.

So the question is, how do we become better allies? How do we, as fellow women, lessen the burden of so many other Chicago women like Ms May? You can begin to stand in solidarity by calling your alderman and supporting the Chicago Healthy Homes Inspection Program that is designed to enforce building code standards and protect renters from health hazards. A move from the current building inspection system will help us prevent another story like Ms May’s and helps us in the effort to create safe housing for all. Healthy and thriving lives start at home, which is why every family should have safe, decent and accessible housing!

This story was written by Angelica Ugarte, Healthy Homes Program Organizer

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 research and mean thousands of children across the country are being poisoned by their homes.leadquote1-816x432

In fact, it’s just as common for families in run-down private homes in Chicago to be faced with the prospect of lead poisoning, a reality John Bartlett, executive director of the Metropolitan Tenants Organization, sees firsthand. The poor families who call [MTO’s] hotline are often forced into unbearable choices in private housing. Preventative measures are even rarer in private housing, as inspections aren’t required at all. As a result, parents often have no idea what they’re moving into. “The question becomes, is it better to have a home or not,” he said. “Do you end up in a shelter situation or do you take what you can get? Tenants lack the resources to go anywhere else, but they also lack the resources to stand up to the landlord,” Bartlett said. And they might risk getting kicked out of their home rather than an actual fix.

“Oftentimes landlords, instead of wanting to get rid of the lead, want to get rid of the tenant,” he continued. That’s a particular problem in private housing, where the protections against wrongful evictions are weaker. Some cities and states have instituted proactive rental inspection programs, which require housing to be checked at regular intervals, rather than waiting for a resident to make a complaint. That not only means that lead hazards are hopefully abated before poisoning becomes an issue, but that tenants who might fear taking action against landlords don’t have to shoulder the burden.

That proactive approach is what Bartlett has been pushing his city of Chicago to adopt. His group wants the city to mandate inspections every five years to catch lead hazards before children become poisoned. “If you’re not going out and pre-inspecting things, then kids move in, and they get poisoned.”

Click to Continue Reading the Full Article…

How a Pro-Active Inspection Program Will Address Lead Poisoning

substrate damage window sillMonica loves spending time at home with her family. Unfortunately, her home has not always been a safe place for her children to grow and develop. Monica’s two year old son, Kyle, was diagnosed with elevated blood lead levels due to the presence of lead in their apartment. Despite her landlord’s assurance that he fixed the problem, repeat testing revealed that Kyle and each of his seven brothers and sisters had dangerously high blood lead levels.

Concerned about her children’s wellbeing, Monica immediately began looking for a safe place for her family to live. At the same time, Monica’s doctor at Erie Family Health Center contacted the Health Justice Project, a medical-legal partnership between Erie Family Health Center and Loyola University Chicago School of Law, where an advocate was assigned to her case. Monica wanted to make sure her family could move into healthy housing without losing the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher that helped pay their rent. To help Monica break the lease and keep her voucher, the Health Justice Project worked with an Erie Family Health Center Nurse Practitioner to submit a reasonable accommodation request to the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA). The request, which was approved by CHA, allowed Monica to transfer to an apartment where the children’s growth, neurological development, and endocrine systems would not be compromised by the presence of lead. flaking-paint-window

During the course of representation, the Health Justice Project uncovered that routine property inspections do not include lead assessments. This means that families housed through CHA programs could be approved to move into housing that presents lead poisoning risks like in the home Monica and her family were occupying. To ensure the health of Monica’s family, the Health Justice Project secured a Lead Hazard Home Test from the Chicago Department of Public Health in Monica’s new home. Test results showed no threat of lead exposure in the new apartment and Monica and her children were able to move in immediately.

When the Health Justice Project advocate called Monica a few weeks later to check in, she immediately noticed a change in Monica’s demeanor, “Every time I had spoken to her before, she sounded stressed and worried and preoccupied. But this time, she was really happy about the situation because she was finally in her new place and she knew that lead wasn’t a hazard anymore.” Unfortunately, Monica is one of the many tenants who experience the negative health effects caused by unsafe and unhealthy housing in Chicago. Lead poisoning causes irreversible damage to the brain and nervous system development, which may result in learning disabilities, behavioral problems, developmental delay, seizures, and comas. Ultimately, these health conditions can lead to other social implications including academic failure, juvenile delinquency, and high blood pressure.

If Monica’s home had been inspected prior to their move-in date, her children could have avoided the lead exposure altogether. Instead, because of a lack of healthy housing policies, she and her children were exposed to dangerous levels of lead for years. Many cities across the United States are adopting best practices to avoid the health-harming effects and social implications of unsafe housing. We want Chicago to join in to help create and maintain a healthy housing stock for all our communities. The Chicago Healthy Homes Inspection Program is an initiative designed to enforce building code standards which will protect renters from health hazards in their home. To protect your own family, and other families from the negative effects housing can have on their health.

Read more: Chicago Healthy Homes Inspection Program (CHHIP).

Read more: How A Proactive Inspection Program Will Address Asthma

Sign the CHHIP Petition

 

If you are having Healthy Homes issues in your apartment, contact MTO’s Hotline for assistance at 773-292-4988, or notify your landlord directly online at Squared Away Chicago

If you would like to join the CHHIP campaign, contact Sheila at 773-292-4980 ext 231, or via email at sheilas@tenants-rights.org.

 

 

How a Pro-Active Inspection Program Will Address Asthma

Ms. Jones told her landlord right away when her daughters’ bedroom ceiling was leaking.  She told him that he needed to come look at it as soon as possible. But the landlord never showed up. 

ceiling1

In mid-June, when a heavy storm hit the Roseland community, her daughters were sleeping in their beds when suddenly the roof and ceiling came crashing in. Fortunately, the girls were not physically injured, but they remain traumatized by the incident. Two weeks passed before the landlord came. Ms. Jones had to put up plastic over the gaping hole in the ceiling.  Finally, the landlord came over to fix the roof – but he still hasn’t fixed the interior damage.  Mold continues to thrive. Her daughters both have asthma and can’t sleep in their room anymore because it causes their asthma to flare up.  Mold is a major asthma trigger.  Currently, they have to sleep in the same bed with their mother down the hall. 

But the repair problems don’t end there. All but one of the windows in this single-family home are missing screens. According to the Chicago Building Code Chapter 13-196-560, window screens are required from April 15 to November 15.  Again and again  Ms. Jones has told the landlord about the screens. He says he will get around to it but never does. Her family says they feel unsafe and can’t open their windows without dust and insects coming inside.

window

To make matters worse, there is a rodent infestation due to holes throughout the structure of the home. Mice are also a major asthma trigger. Ms. Jones has tried everything from traps to glue boards but until the holes are fixed, mice will keep coming in.  And her daughters will keep having asthma attacks at home, which means they spend additional money they don’t have on expensive medication and trips to the Emergency Department.

For renters across Chicago, this story is all too familiar. Ms. Jones has no mailing address for her landlord to send a certified 14 day letter so she has always sent him texts when issues come up. Tenants are responsible for notifying owners of issues immediately when they occur, but what can be done when landlords fail to respond? Small issues turn into larger ones, like a roof and ceiling crashing down in the middle of the night. The Chicago Building Code needs to be enforced.  Landlords should register their properties with the City so tenants have a resource for contact information for owners and the City has an inventory of properties. 

Major cities across the country are adopting proactive rental inspection programs to address issues such as absent, negligent owners. Programs require owners to register properties and cyclical inspections occur to ensure compliance with existing building codes. We believe all renters deserve to live in safe and healthy homes so we are working on bringing a proactive inspection program to Chicago. 

Sign the CHHIP Petition!

 

If you are having Healthy Homes issues in your apartment, contact MTO’s Hotline for assistance at 773-292-4988, or notify your landlord directly online at Squared Away Chicago.  

If you would like to join the CHHIP campaign, contact Sheila at 773-292-4980 ext 231, or via email at sheilas@tenants-rights.org.

Learn More: What Other Cities Are Doing

mold1Thousands of calls to MTO’s hotline are about building conditions – especially mold.  Mold only needs water and a surface to grow on.  Bad plumbing, structural deficiencies and water damage from flooding causes mold to thrive in buildings.

New York City Council just passed a mold-resistant building law that requires the use of mold-resistant building materials in areas that are prone to water damage and moisture issues. This is a huge step in the right direction towards recognizing and preventing the harmful effects of mold in the home and to a person’s health.  People with asthma are especially impacted by mold – since it is a major asthma trigger.

We applaud NYC Council in their decision and hope that cities like Chicago follow their lead. Join the fight for quality rental housing – Support the Chicago Healthy Homes Inspection Program (CHHIP)! Read more about mold and the new NYC law.

Cities across the country are adopting or have in place–proactive, systematic rental housing inspection programs to preserve housing stock and protect renters.  Those cities include:

Sign the CHHIP Petition

 

If you are having Healthy Homes issues in your apartment, contact MTO’s Hotline for assistance at 773-292-4988, or notify your landlord directly online at Squared Away Chicago.  

If you would like to join the CHHIP campaign, contact Sheila at 773-292-4980 ext 231, or via email at sheilas@tenants-rights.org.

Has your home been tested for Radon?

January is National Radon Action Month.  Everyone is encouraged to test their home for harmful levels of radon.  Radon is a natural colorless, odorless radioactive gas and is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.  The EPA estimates that radon causes more than 20,000 deaths from lung cancer each year.

Radon comes from the natural decay of uranium that is found in nearly all soils.  It comes into homes through cracks and holes in the foundation.  All homes with or without basements should be tested for radon.  You can’t see, smell or taste radon.  It could be present at dangerous levels in the home without knowing.  The best time to test homes is during the winter month when windows are shut and elevated levels of radon are more likely to be detected.

The Chicago Department of Public Health recommends taking action to fix radon levels at or above 4 picoCuries per liter (pCi/L).  Addressing high radon levels sometimes costs the the same as other minor home repairs.  In most cases, a system with a vent pipe and fan is used to reduce radon.  For info on how to test, find a qualified radon professional or obtain a test kit at  http://www.epa.gov/radon or call the Cook County Radon Hot Line at 708-865-6177.  Also check out the EPA’s Radon Guide for Tenants.  Property owners are responsible for making repairs when radon is found in the home.  If you have further questions you may contact MTO’s Healthy Homes Program at 773-292-4980 ext 231.

Chicago Bed Bug Ordinance

BE IT ORDAINED BY THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO:

SECTION 1.

Section 2-112-160 of the Municipal Code of Chicago is hereby amended by inserting the language underscored and deleting the language struck through, as follows:

2-112-160 Commissioner – Enforcement powers and duties. The commissioner of health shall have the following powers and duties:

(a) Public health related powers and duties:

(1) To enforce all the laws of the state and provisions of this Code in relation to matters pertaining to the public health and sanitary conditions of the city;

(2) To enforce all regulations of the board of health or any other federal, state or local authority with power to make regulations concerning the public health;

(3) To cause all nuisances affecting the health of the public to be abated with all reasonable promptness;

(4) To determine when a disease is communicable or epidemic, and establish quarantine regulations whenever it is deemed necessary

(5) To enforce section 4-4-332. Article VIII of chapter 7-28 and all other code provisions applicable to bed bugs. (Omitted text is unaffected by this ordinance)

SECTION 2.

Chapter 4-4 of the Municipal Code of Chicago is hereby amended by adding a new Section 4-4-332, as follows:

4-4-332 Bed bugs.

(a) It is the responsibility of every licensee under this title 4 to provide pest control services when an infestation of bed bugs is found or suspected on any licensed premises. Everv licensee shall maintain a written record of the pest control measures performed by the pest management professional and shall include reports and receipts prepared bv the pest management professional relating to those measures taken. The record shall be maintained for three years and shall be open to inspection by the departments of health, buildings, and business affairs and consumer protection.

(b) It shall be unlawful for any licensee under this title 4 which provides sleeping accommodations for hire or rent for transient occupancy by guests to rent, hire, or otherwise provide, any such sleeping accommodation in which an infestation of any bed bugs is found or suspected, unless an inspection by the pest management professional has determined that no evidence of bed bugs can be found and verified.

(c) For purposes of this section, the following definitions apply: “Pest management professional” has the same meaning ascribed to that term in section 7-28-810.

“Transient occupancy” means any occupancy on a daily or nightly basis, or any 1 part thereof, for 30 or fewer consecutive days.

SECTION 3.

Chapter 5-12 of the Municipal Code of Chicago is hereby amended by adding a new Section 5-12-101, and by adding the language underscored, as follows:

5-12-040 Tenant responsibilities. Every tenant must: (a) Comply with all obligations imposed specifically upon tenants by provisions of the municipal code applicable to dwelling units, including section 7-28-850: (Omitted text is unaffected by this ordinance)

5-12-101 Bed bugs – Education. For any rental agreement for a dwelling unit entered into or renewed after the effective date of this 2013 amendatory ordinance, prior to entering into or renewing such agreement, the landlord or any person authorized to enter into such agreement on his behalf shall provide to such tenant the informational brochure on bed bug prevention and treatment prepared by the department of health pursuant to section 7-28-860.

SECTION 4.

Chapter 7-28 of the Municipal Code of Chicago is hereby amended by adding a new section 7-28-370, as follows:

7-28-370 Disposal of furnishings, bedding, clothing or other materials infested with bed bugs.

(a) No person shall place, discard or dispose of any bedding, clothing or other materials infested with bed bugs on the public way or in a refuse container or dumpster located on the public way, except when such bedding, clothing or other material is placed in or near the person’s refuse container or dumpster for pick-up as trash and the bedding, clothing or other material is totally enclosed in a plastic bag and labeled as being infested with bed bugs.

(b) No furnishing, bedding, clothing or other material infested with bed bugs shall be recycled.

(c) For purposes of this section, “bedding” has the same meaning ascribed to that term in section 7-28-810.

SECTION 5. 

Chapter 7-28 of the Municipal Code of Chicago is hereby amended by adding a new Article VIII Bed Bugs, Sections 7-28-810 through 7-28-900, as follows:

Article VIII Bed Bugs.

7-28-810 Definitions. As used in this article, the following terms are defined as follows:

“Bedding” means any mattress, box spring, foundation, or studio couch made in whole or part from new or secondhand fabric, filling material, or other textile product or material and which can be used for sleeping or reclining purposes. “Commissioner” means the commissioner of public health.

“Dwelling unit,” “landlord,” “rent” and “tenant” have the meaning ascribed to those terms in Section 5-12-030.

“Multiple rental unit building” means a building which contains hwo or more rental units. A “multiple rental unit building” does not include a condominium or cooperative building.

“Pest Management Professional” means a person who:

(i) is licensed, registered or certified by the State of Illinois to perform pest control services pursuant to the Structural Pest Control Act. 235 ILCS 235:

(ii) has attended courses or undergone training for the proper method for the extermination of bed bugs; and

(iii) follows National Pest Management Association Best Practices for the extermination of bed bugs.

“Rental unit” means any dwelling unit which is not owner occupied and is held out for rent to tenants, including any single family home held out for rent to tenants.

7-28-820 Bed bugs-Nuisance. Bed bugs are hereby declared to be a public nuisance subiect to the abatement provisions of this chapter.

7-28-830 Bed bug infestation-duty to exterminate.

(a) In any rental unit in which an infestation of bed bugs is found or reasonably suspected, it is the responsibility of the landlord to: (1) provide pest control services by a pest management professional until such time that no evidence of bed bugs can be found and verified: and (2) maintain a written record of the pest control measures performed by the pest management professional on the rental unit. The record shall include reports and receipts prepared by the pest management professional. The record shall be maintained for three years and shall be open to inspection by authorized city personnel, including but not limited to employees of the departments of health and buildings.

(b) In any multiple rental unit building in which an infestation of bed bugs is found or reasonably suspected, it is the responsibility of the landlord to: 1) provide pest control services by a pest management professional until such time that no evidence of bed bugs can be found and verified within the building or portion thereof including the individual rental units; and (2) maintain a written record of the pest control measures performed by pest management professional on the building. The record shall include reports and receipts prepared bv the pest management professional. The record shall be maintained for three years and shall be open to inspection by authorized city personnel, including but not limited to employees of the departments of health and buildings.

(c) A landlord shall provide the pest control services within 10 days after: (1) a bed bug is found or reasonably suspected anywhere on the premises; or (2) being notified In writing by a tenant of a known or reasonably suspected bed bug infestation on the premises or in the tenant’s rental unit.

(d) The extermination of bed bugs shall be by:

(1) inspection, and if necessary, the treatment of the dwelling unit on either side of the affected dwelling unit and the unit directly above and below the affected dwelling unit. This pattern of inspection and treatment shall be continued until no further infestation is detected; or

(2) any other method approved by the commissioner in rules and regulations.

(e) A landlord may not knowingly terminate a tenancy, increase rent, decrease services, bring or threaten to bring a lawsuit against a tenant for possession or refuse to renew a lease or tenancy because the tenant has in good faith:

(1) complained of a bed bug infestation within the tenant’s rental unit or the premises in which the tenant’s rental unit is located to a competent governmental agency, elected representative or public official charged with responsibility for enforcement of a building, housing, health or similar code;

(2) complained of a bed bug infestation within the tenant’s rental unit or the premises in which the tenant’s rental unit is located to a community organization or the news media:

(3) sought the assistance of a community organization or the news media to remedy a bed bug infestation within the tenant’s rental unit or the premises in which the tenant’s rental unit is located;

(4) requested the landlord to provide pest control measures for a bed bug infestation as required by a building code, health ordinance, other regulation, or the residential rental agreement: or

(5) testified in any court or administrative proceeding concerning any bed bug infestation within the tenant’s rental unit or the premises in which the tenant’s rental unit is located.

If the landlord acts in violation of this subsection (e), the tenant has a defense in any retaliatory action against him for possession and is entitled to recover possession of the rental unit or terminate the rental agreement and, in either case, may recover an amount equal to two months rent or the damages sustained by him, whichever is greater, and reasonable attorneys’ fees. If the rental agreement is terminated, the landlord shall return all security and interest recoverable under Section 5-12-080 and all prepaid rent. In an action by or against the tenant, if there is evidence of tenant conduct protected herein within one year prior to the alleged act of retaliation, that evidence shall create a rebuttable presumption that the landlord’s conduct was retaliatory. The presumption shall not arise if the protected tenant activity was Initiated after the alleged act of retaliation.

7-28-840 Condominium and cooperative buildings-plan for treatment of bed bugs.

(a) No later than 90 days after the effective date of this section, the governing association of a condominium or cooperative building shall prepare a pest management plan for the detection, inspection and treatment of bed bugs in the building. The plan shall include the provisions of section 7-28-830(c).

(b) The governing association shall maintain written records of anv pest control measures in the building performed by a pest management professional retained by the governing association and any report prepared by the pest management professional. The plan and records shall be: (1) maintained either on-site in the building or at the property management office: (2) maintained for three years: and (3) open to inspection upon request by authorized city personnel, including but not limited to employees of the departments of health and buildings.

(c) Every owner of condominium unit or a lessee with a proprietary lease in a cooperative shall immediately notify, in writing, the governing association of any known or reasonably suspected bed bug infestation in the presence of the unit or cooperative, clothing, furniture or other personal property located in the unit or cooperative, and cooperate with the governing association in the control, treatment and eradication of bed bug infestation found or suspected to be in the unit or cooperative.

(d) For purposes of this section the following definitions apply:

“Condominium unit” or “unit” has the meaning ascribed to that term in section 13-72-010.

“Cooperative building” means a building or buildings and the tract, lot, or parcel on which the building or buildings are located and fee title to the land and building or buildings is owned by a corporation or other legal entity in which the shareholders or other co-owners each also have a long-term proprietary lease or other long-term arrangement of exclusive possession for a specific unit of occupancy space located within the same building or buildings.

“Cooperative” is an individual dwelling unit within a cooperative building.

“Governing association” means the board of managers of a condominium homeowners’ association or the board of directors of a cooperative building.

(e) The commissioner shall prepare and post on the health department’s publicly accessible website a sample plan for the detection, inspection and treatment of bed bugs for the governing association of condominium or cooperative building. The sample plan shall set forth the best practices for the detection and treatment of bed bugs in such buildings.

7-28-850 Tenant Responsibility.

(a) Within 5 days after a tenant finds or reasonably suspects a bed bug infestation in the presence of the tenant’s dwelling unit, the tenant shall notify, in writing, the landlord of any known or reasonably suspected bed bug infestation in the presence of the tenant’s dwelling unit, clothing, furniture or other personal property located in the building, or of any recurring or unexplained bites, stings, irritation, or sores of the skin or body which the tenant reasonably suspects Is caused by bed bugs.

(b) The tenant shall cooperate with the landlord in the control, treatment and eradication of bed bug infestation found or reasonably suspected to be. in the tenant’s rental unit. As part of that cooperation, the tenant shall:

(1) not interfere with inspections or treatments:

(2) after reasonable notice in writing to the tenant, grant access at reasonable times to the tenant’s rental unit for purposes of bed bug infestation inspection or treatment:

(3) make any necessary preparations, such as cleaning, dusting or vacuuming, prior to treatment in accordance with any pest management professional’s recommendations: and

(4) dispose of any personal property that a pest management professional has determined cannot be treated or cleaned before the treatment of the tenant’s dwelling unit.

(5) prior to removing any personal property from the tenant’s dwelling unit, safely enclose in a plastic bag any such personal property while it is being moved through any common area of the building, or stored at any other location. The personal property shall remained enclosed in a plastic bag until such time that the property is either properly disposed of or treated and no evidence of beg bug infestation can be found and verified.

(c) Prior to inspection or treatment for bed bug infestation, the landlord shall send a written notice to the tenant of the rental unit being inspected or treated, which advises the tenant of the tenant’s responsibilities under this section and sets forth the specific preparations required by the tenant.

(d) This section shall not apply to any tenant of an assisted living or shared housing establishment, or similar living arrangement, when the establishment is required to provide the tenant assistance with activities of daily living or mandatory services. In such cases, the landlord will be responsible to make the necessary preparations, such as cleaning, dusting or vacuuming, of the tenant’s rental unit prior to treatment in accordance with any pest management professional’s recommendations. For purposes of this subsection, the terms “assistance with activities of daily living,” “assisted living establishment.” “mandatory services” and “shared housing establishment” have the meaning ascribed to those terms in the Illinois Assisted Living and Shared Housing Act. 210 ILCS 9/10.

7-28-860 Sale of secondhand bedding.

(a) For purposes of this section, the following definitions apply:

“Act” means the Illinois Safe and Hygienic Bed Act. 410 ILCS 68/1.

“Bedding.” “manufacturer.” “renovator.” “rebuilder.” “repairer.” “sanitizer.” and “secondhand material” have the meaning ascribed to those terms in section 410 ILCS 68/5 of the Act.

“Secondhand bedding” means bedding that is made in whole or part from secondhand material or that has been previously used or owned.

(b) Every manufacturer, renovator, rebuilder. repairer and sanitizer of bedding whose product is sold in the citv shall comply with the Act.

(c) Every person who sells at retail any secondhand bedding shall post in a conspicuous location nearby the secondhand bedding a written notice in English. Spanish. Polish and Chinese that the bedding is made in whole or part from secondhand material or was previously owned or used.

(d) Every person who sells at retail any secondhand bedding shall provide to the purchaser of such secondhand bedding a written notice in English, Spanish, Polish and Chinese that the bedding is made in whole or part from secondhand material or has been previously owned or used.

(e) Every person who sells at retail any new or secondhand bedding shall inspect all material for soiling, malodor, and pest infestation, including bed bugs, prior to use, sale or distribution of the bedding. If any material in the bedding appears to be soiled, malodorous or infested with pests, the person shall not use, sell or distribute such bedding. If the bedding is infested with bed bugs, the person shall dispose of such bedding and material in an enclosed Plastic bag and labeled as being infested with bed bugs.

7-28-870 Public information. The commissioner shall prepare and post on the health department’s publicly available website:

(a) a brochure containing, at a minimum, the following:

(1) a statement that the presence of bed bugs in any building or dwelling unit is a public nuisance:

(2) information on how to detect the presence of bed bugs;

(3) information on how to prevent the spread of bed bugs within and between buildings:

(4) a statement that tenants shall contact their landlord as soon as practicable if they suspect they have bed bugs in their dwelling unit; and

(5) contact information as to where people can obtain more information: and (b) information relating to licensing, registration or certification by the State of Illinois to perform pest control services.

7-28-880 Rules. The commissioner of health and the commissioner of buildings shall have joint authority to promulgate rules and regulations necessary to implement this article.

7-28-890 Enforcement.

(a) Inspectors from the departments of buildings and health shall have authority to inspect the interior and exterior of buildings, other structures, or parcels on which a building is located for bed bug infestation and when any evidence is found indicating the presence of bed bugs at that site and to report such evidence to the appropriate commissioner.

(b) This article may be enforced by the departments of public health or buildings. In addition, the department of business affairs and consumer protection shall have the authority to enforce section 7-28-860.

7-28-900 Violation-penalties Any person who violates this article shall be fined not less than $300 nor more than $500 for the first violation, not less than $500 nor more than $1.000 for the second violation within twelve-months of the first violation, and (3) not less than $1.000 nor more than $2.000 for the third or subsequent violation within such twelve-month period. Each dav that a violation continues shall constitute a separate and distinct offense to which a separate fine shall applv.

SECTION 6.

This ordinance takes effect 180 days after its passage and approval.

 

Chicago Council passes Bed Bug Ordinance

The City of Chicago has recently been named the nation’s #1 city infested with bed bugs.  Everyday MTO’s tenants’ rights hotline receives calls from renters throughout the City and suburbs dealing with the pesky pests.  Bed bugs are not unique to Chicago.  They are undoubtedly a nuisance and hard to control.  Controlling bed bugs requires tenants and landlords working together.

On June 5, 2013, the City Council passed an ordinance aimed at putting an end to the spread of bed bugs.  This ordinance will go into effect December 23, 2013.  There are key components of the ordinance that all renters should know.  Let’s start with landlord responsibilities:

  • To supply a tenant starting or renewing a lease with an informational brochure
  • To maintain a written record of bed bug control efforts
  • To send a written notice to the tenant explaining their responsibilities before the inspection
  • To provide pest control services when bed bugs are found by a pest management professional as many times as necessary to eliminate the problem
  • To inspect within 10 days and treat if necessary the two units on either side as well as the two units above and below of the infested unit

The ordinance also outlines what tenants’ responsibilities are to help eliminate bed bugs.  Please note that this section of the ordinance does not apply to tenants living in assisted living or a shared housing establishment, when the establishment provides assistance with daily living activities.  According to the ordinance, tenant responsibilities include:

  • To notify the landlord in writing of any suspected or known infestation in the tenants’ unit, clothing, furniture or personal property within 5 days
  • To notify the landlord in writing of any recurring or unexplained bites, stings or sores suspected to be caused by bed bugs
  • To cooperate with the landlord in the control, treatment, and eradication of bed bugs including
  • To grant access at reasonable times upon reasonable notice for inspections and treatments/to not interfere
  • To prepare unit prior to treatment including:  cleaning, dusting, vacuuming
  • To properly dispose of personal property that cannot be treated or cleaned before the pest control services

The Chicago Bed Bug Ordinance also mandates the disposal of bedding, clothing, furnishings or other infested materials.  For example, you may not place, discard or dispose of any bedding, clothing or furnishings infested on the public way (i.e. dumpsters, sidewalks, hallways).  To get rid of infested items, you must enclose the item in a plastic bag and label it as infested.  Doing so should prevent neighbors from bringing to their home infested items, therefore stalling the spread of bed bugs.

The ordinance will be enforced by the Department of Buildings and the Department of Public Health.  If any person is found violating the ordinance, that person may be fined $300.00 to $1,000 per day for each offense.  By complying with the ordinance, these fees can be avoided.   The full ordinance can be found at www.cityofchicago.org.  You can make a request for a City inspector here.

For more information on tenants’ rights, please call MTO’s hotline at 773-292-4988/Monday-Friday 1-5 pm or visit www.tenants-rights.org/bed-bugs-faq. You can read the full ordinance here.