Alternative Electricity Provider Info

ARES Electricity Deregulation

MULTIFAMILY RENTAL FACT SHEET

Tenant Choices

If tenants receive their own electricity bills, they can make their own decisions about switching to an alternate provider. NOTE: Tenants should ask new providers if they accept LIHEAP.* Blue Star does NOT work with LIHEAP.

Real Time Pricing

Before checking with other ARES providers, you should explore Real Time Pricing (www.thewattspot.com). Many households will pay less with this program.

Tenant and Owner Considerations Before Choosing an Alternate Provider

1.  Consider Real Time Pricing. If you work and are not at home during the day, you will likely save more money with this program. See above for information.

2.  Check if the company is registered with the Illinois Commerce Commission. Check http://www.icc.illinois.gov/utility/list.aspx?type=are

3.  Check the company’s per kilowatt-hour (kWh) rate: is it less than 7.921 cents/kilowatt-hour. Right now, Com Ed’s rate is 7.921 cents per kWh. That rate is expected to decrease slightly next year, so if the ARES you are considering has a rate just under 7.921 plus additional fees (see #3 below), you may want to reconsider.

4.  Check for fees, and whether rates are fixed or variable.

Fees: Check for monthly fees, fees for start-up, early termination, etc.

Variable v. fixed rates: If companies charge variable rates, there is no way to know what they will charge month to month.

Contract term: If Com Ed’s rate does decrease in the near term, you do not want to get stuck with a higher rate for several years.

5.  Always check your bill to make sure your provider is the provider of your choice. Sometimes providers switch your bill without your permission.

6.  If your unit or building uses an electric heat system DO NOT SWITCH.  You will get better discounts through Com Ed.  Ask your landlord if you are not sure.

Good resources:

ICC website:    http://www.pluginillinois.org/ , or call the ICC at 1-800-524-0795

CUB website: http://www.citizensutilityboard.org/ciElectric_cubfacts_alternativesuppliers.html , or call CUB at 1-800-669-5556

* LIHEAP clients should also consider the new Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP), which allows LIHEAP clients to pay a percentage of their income, receive a monthly benefit towards their utility bill, and lower their overdue bills for every on-time payment they make by the bill due date.  http://www.ildceo.net/dceo/Bureaus/Energy+Assistance/Illinois+LIHEAP/ .

Condo Conversion Ordinance

Condo Ordinance 4-28-11

Lawyers, Low-Income Housing & Other Resources

This is an informational resource list. None of the following organizations have affiliation with the Metropolitan Tenants Organization.

Legal Organization Referrals

Evictions (tenant must be low-income)

Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing (referral must be faxed)…………..312-784-3527

Chicago Volunteer Legal Services (serves Spanish speakers)………………..…312-332-1624

Chicago Legal Clinic (retaliatory eviction only) (serves Spanish speakers)………773-731-1762

Advice before court or to get an extension to stay:

CARPLS Advice Desk Room 602, Daley Center located at Station 7 – Pro se defendants only

Kent Law School Advice Desk Room 602, Daley Center – Pro se defendants only

Illinois Legal Aid Online Pro Se  www.IllinoisLegalAid.org  www.AyudaLegalIl.org

Tenants in CHA or HUD housing or on a Section 8 program

LAF (must fit under income guidelines)…312-341-1070

(unit conditions ONLY)……………….312-229-6093

Cabrini Green Legal Aid……..312-738-2452

Security Deposit Defense

Chicago Legal Clinic (deposit must be $2500 & over) ($30 1st visit & court)….773-731-1762

Cabrini Green Legal Clinic (income guideline & $20.00 fee)……….312 738 2452

Lawyers Committee for Better Housing……(312) 784-3527

Tenants over 60 years of age

Chicago Department on Aging………312-744-4016

Tenants with Disabilities And Seniors

Mayor’s Office for People with disability up to age 59 ……….312-744-6673

Legal Clinic for the Disabled and seniors (must receive referral from Chgo. Dept. Of Aging)……. 312-908-4463

Center for Disability and Elder Law (they also cover legal issues beyond Tenant/Landlord)………312 376 1880

Community Counseling Centers of Chicago (C4)…………………………………………………………………..773-769-0205

National Alliance on Mental Illness of Chicago HELPLINE………………………………………………….312-563-0445

Tenants living in Logan Square or surrounding neighborhoods:

Micah Legal Aid……… …….773 463-6768

Tenants living in or around Uptown area 60640

Uptown People’s Law Office (Eviction Defense Only) ………… ………773-769-1411

Suburbanites with questions

CARPLS (Cook County, serves Spanish speaking tenants too)…… …..312-738-9200

Open Communities (North & Northwest Cook County Suburbs)…847-501-5760

Prairie State Legal Services DeKalb & Kane………..630-232-9415

Du Page……… ..630-690-2130

Kane………….…630-232-9415

Lake & McHenry………847-662-6925

Will………………815-727-5123

Peoria…………….309-674-9831

MTO Lawyer Referral List

PRIVATE ATTORNEYS

Aldon Patt (security deposit) ……….312-641-0885

Berton N. Ring (class action & appellate, Mold Inspectors)…………..312-781-0290

Brian Gilbert (eviction, security deposit, and consumer defense)….872-216-4615

Daniel M. Starr (security deposits, evictions and class actions)………….. 312-346-9420

David Morris (security deposit, affirmative RLTO, class actions, retaliation, lockouts, illegal entry, trespass, and utility theft if $3000 or more is owed to tenant) Chicago, Mt. Prospect, Oak Park and Evanston………………312-986-3200

Hall Adams (bed bugs, must demonstrate via paper trail that the bed bug issue has occurred)……………….. 312-445-4900

Joan Fenstermaker (security deposit, retaliation, foreclosure, illegal lockouts and illegal late fees)…….312-371-6473 or http://givemebackmydeposit.com/

John Norkus (security deposit, unit conditions, evictions, consumer)…312-600-7457

Joseph F. Vitu    ……….312-726-2323

Susan Ritacca …………… 872-222-6960

Michael A. Childers (security deposit, other legal advice)………..312- 641-1900 (speak or leave message with Beverly Hadley)

Mike Radzilowsky (primarily evictions)   …………312-986-0600

Morgan Cook (tenant-landlord law, debt collection defense)…………………….312-880-7215 or www.legalmcfirm.com

Paul Bernstein (security deposit).…1-866-769-2892

William Moore (security deposits, affirmative RLTO) ……………….. 708-268-3495

Chicago Bar Association (for other Attorney referrals)…………….312-554-2001
(Free Legal Advice every 3rd Saturday of the month & no income guidelines.)

Illinois Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission………….…. (312) 565-2600

Government & Other Resources

Ameritech Reverse Directory (to find landlord address)…………411

CEDA (weatherization program for low income)……………800-571-2332

Center for Conflict Resolution (Mediation)……………312-922-6464

CHAC Fraud Hotline…………………………..800-533-0441

CHA………………………………312-935-2600

Chicago Dept. on Aging + (disabled & tenants over 60)…………312-744-4016

Chicago Department of Childhood Lead Poisoning….(312) 747-5323

Chicago Dept. of Community Development……………………………311 or 312.744.5000

Chicago Housing Authority (CHA Housing and Sec. 8)…………312-742-8500

CHA Hotline (for complaints about CHA management)……………………1-800-544-7139

Circuit Court Clerk’s Office (to find out if you’re being sued)…………312-603-5030

Citizen’s Utility Board (complaints about utility bill)…………..…800-669-5556

Condo Owners………. 312-987-1906

Cook County Recorder of Deeds (Sale of Property Info)………312-603-5050

Cook County Sheriff’s Eviction Unit…………….312-603-3365

Cook County States Attorney Consumer Fraud………..312-814-3000

Department of Consumer Services (sec. deposit & utility theft complaints) …312-744-4090

Department of Human Services (emergency shelter)………312-746-5400

Eviction Court…………………..312-603-6486
Or cookcountyclerkofcourt.org (full docket search)

For Building Inspections & Emergency Rental Assistance…………..311 or 312-744-5000

HOME (Seniors needing help moving) …………..(773) 921-1332

MTO Hotline* – Tenants Rights …. 773-292-4988 (M-F, 1-5pm)

HUD Complaints about Section 8 Counselor……………….312-353-6236

HUD…………………………..312-353-7776

IL Commerce Commission (regulates utility providers)…………800-524-0795

Independent Police Review Authority (to file complaint against police) ……………… 312-745-3609

Lakeside CDC (condo owners)……………………..773 381 5253

LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program)………..312-795-8800

Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly (social support for the elderly)…………312-455-1000

Pro Se Court, Rm 602, Daley Center (for claims up to $1500)……….312-603-5626

Rental Assistance & Utility Assistance………311 or 312.744.5000, ask for short term help

Shriver Center (victims of sexual & domestic assault)………….……..….312-263-3830

Small Claims Court (for claims between $1500 to $5000) .Civil Division…..312-603-5145

United States Postal Service……………………………….800-275-8777

Discrimination

Access Living (disability 226-1687TDD-hearing impaired)………312-640-2100

Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law………312-630-9744

Commission on Human Relations (all discrimination complaints)…312-744-4111

Illinois Department of Human Rights (Fair Housing Division)………………..312-814-6227

John Marshall Law School Fair Housing Legal clinic…………312-786-2267

Latinos United (referrals and trainings)………….312-226-0151

Foreclosure

newschicago.org or cookcountyassessor.com (to get PIN # of the property, then call recorder of deeds)

Recorder of Deeds……………………………………312-603-5050

(Give them PIN# to see if apt. has a case #, if it has a case number call Chancery Court 312-603-5133)

Neighborhood Housing Services (landlords facing foreclosure)…………….773-329-4010

Tenants in foreclosure (income guideline & costs)

Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing (referral must be faxed).……312- 784-3507

(Statewide)……………………….855-207-8347

Low-Income Housing Resources:

www.ILHousingSearch.org

Bickerdike Apartments (low-income housing)…………………………………………773-227-6332
– Provides housing for low-income tenants.

Chicago Housing Authority…………………………………………………….. …….. (312) 742-8500
– The Housing Choice Voucher Program is a federal housing rental assistance program. It allows low-
income families to rent good housing in the private market. The voucher program pays a portion of their rent each month directly to the property owner or manager.

Cook County Housing Authority…………………………………………………………(312)542-4728
– Provides access to decent, safe, and affordable housing to low and moderate income individuals, families,
elderly and/or disabled within suburban Cook County.

Earthly Women Corp. ……………………………………………………………………..708 822 3786
– Serves women and single parents.

East Lake Management & Development Corp…………………………………..……..312.842.5500
– Offers affordable housing to tenants throughout the chicagoland area.

Habitat Corp……………………………………………………………………..…….….(312)527-5700
– Provides housing for low-income tenants.

Heartland Alliance……………………………………………………………………..….312- 660-1300
– They build and advocate for safe, high-quality housing and supportive services for people experiencing
homelessness, poverty, or chronic illness.

Hispanic Housing Development Corporation………………………………………… (312) 602-6500
– Provides housing for low-income families and the elderly.

Housing Opportunities and Maintenance for the Elderly (H.O.M.E.)………….……. 773-921-3200
– Committed to improving the quality of life for Chicago’s low-income elderly, Housing Opportunities and
Maintenance for the Elderly (H.O.M.E.) helps seniors remain independent and part of their community by
offering opportunities for intergenerational living and by providing a variety of citywide support services.

Housing Opportunities for Women…………………………………………….………(773) 465-5770
– Their goal is to help homeless women and children exit the homeless shelter system as quickly as possible
by providing rental subsidies to secure permanent housing. They also offer employment services.

IL Housing Development Authority……………………………………………….…… (312)836-5200
– Help create and fund affordable housing programs across the state.

Mercy Housing Lakefront Office………………………………………………………….312.447.4500
– To create stable, vibrant and healthy communities by developing, financing and operating affordable,
program-enriched housing for families, seniors and people with special needs who lack the economic
resources to access quality, safe housing opportunities.

Landlords seeking assistance

Chicago Rents Right…….………………312-742-7369

Spanish Coalition for Housing…………773-276-7633

Community Investment Corporation……………312 258 0070

or via email (preferred): taft.west@cicchicago.com

Neighborhood Housing Services (landlords facing foreclosure)…………….773-329-4010

Resources for Homeowners:

Partners In Community Building, Inc…………….312.328.0873
– Financial Literacy, Credit Repair, Other services

Translation Services:

Chinese American Service League (Translation, Southside)…………………312-791-0418

Chinese Mutual Aid (Translation, North side)……………………………………773-784-2900

Polish American Association……………………………………………..773-282-8206

Resources for writing letters or other areas of support (citywide)

LIFT- Chicago Uptown Office…………………………773-303-0700

LIFT- Chicago Pilsen Office……………………………312-994-8387

Find Your Landlord’s Contact Information

Landlord’s Name
First, you must find out the Property Identification Number (PIN) of your building. Online, you can try www.newschicago.org. If the website is down or it is not finding your building, you can call the Cook County Assessor’s office at 312-443-7550.
Once you have the PIN number, you can go to the Cook County Recorder of Deeds’ website and click the link to do a “Property Identification Number (PIN) Search.” This page can get a bit confusing, so a phone call to their office is a good alternative at 312-603-5050.

You can also find out the landlord’s name by going downtown. Begin your search in County Building (118 N. Clark Street).  First go to the Revenue Dept., Room 112, and ask someone at the counter for the Permanent Index Number (PIN number) for the address of the building.   You may also get the PIN number yourself by looking at the green books on the counter.   Go to the tract dept. of the Recorder of Deeds which is located in Room 120.   Give the person at the counter the PIN number and tell them that you want to know the name of the owner of that building.   The grantee of the most recent deed recorded is the owner of the property.   If the property is in a land trust you can send letter to the bank trustee.   They should forward the letter to the beneficiary of the trust your landlord.   The bank will not disclose the name of the beneficiary of the trust to you.   Get the document number of the deed (see below).

Landlord’s Address

  1. Take the document number of the deed to the microfiche department in the Recorders Office, down the hall from the Tract Dept.   Tell the person behind the counter you want to look at the deed to determine the grantee’s address.   Give him the document number.   Look at the deed for the grantee’s address, usually near the beginning.   This is the landlord’s address at the time he/she purchased the building.   The address could be near the bottom under “send subsequent tax bills to”.   If it is a corporation, call the Secretary of State at 312-793-3380 to get the name of the registered agent and corporation’s address.
  2. Call the Revenue Dept. 312-443-5100 or 443-6253 to find out the property taxpayer’s name.   Caution – the taxpayer is not necessarily the owner, it could be the previous one.   You can also get this info in Room 112.
  3. If you have the landlord’s phone number, call Ameritech’s Reverse Directory at 312-796-9600.   They will give you the address if the number is listed.
  4. Call the City’s Dept. of Buildings Multiple Dwelling Registration number 312-744-3452.   All apartment buildings should be registered.   They can give you the name and address of the landlord or landlord’s agent.   However, few buildings are registered even though failure to register is a building code violation.
  5. You can check to see if your landlord is being sued (defendant) by calling the three numbers listed below.   (Or use the computers in room 602 of the Daley Center 50 W. Washington Street.   Type “users” to get to the main menu.)   If he/she is, get the case number.   Then go to the appropriate floor at the Daley Center and look at the file (see below for the location of the different departments). The address where the landlord was served should be on the summons.

Chancery (foreclosure) 312-443-5133 files on 8th floor

Law 312-443-5426 files on 8th floor

Municipal 312-443-5145 files on 6th floor

Divorce Files on 8th floor

Renting & Credit Reports

Credit reports contain “information” about where you live and work and your bill paying habits; it may also state whether there has been an eviction or arrest. Landlords have the right to charge for credit reports.   Many landlords pay credit agencies for reports.   A landlord may also track credit themselves, by contacting banks, credit card companies, and checking court files for lawsuits or bankruptcies.   Either way, the landlord can charge a non-refundable fee for the check.

Landlords can set whatever credit standards they want.   They must hold that standard to all applicants.   If they do not, they may be charged with discrimination.   Some landlords may accept an applicant with a poor credit history by charging a larger security deposit or requiring a cosigner.   The cosigner is fully responsible for the costs of the apartment.

How to get your credit report?
If someone is denied housing because of a credit check, the Fair Credit Reporting Act requires that the landlord supply the name and address of the credit agency used.   If contacted within 30 days, the agency must supply the tenant with the report for free.

How to fix errors on your report?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act gives you the right to dispute information on your credit report.   Write a letter to the credit agency.   Clearly identify the items you dispute, and request deletions or corrections.   Include copies of any thing that may support your claim, such as a receipt for rent.   Send the letter certified mail and keep a copy.

If the agency feels no change to your report is necessary, file a statement of up to 100 words explaining your side of the story.   The credit agency must include this statement any time it sends out your credit report.   If you feel the agency did not properly investigate your dispute, file a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission or the States Attorney.

What collectors may and may not do
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act bans certain types of debt collection and applies to anyone who collects debts for others.   This includes property managers and lawyers.

A collector may not contact you at unreasonable times or places.   This may include your place of work.   A collector may not tell anyone else that you allegedly owe money.   Harassment is illegal.   They may not repeatedly use the telephone to annoy you, threaten you or use obscene language.   Debt collectors may not falsely imply that you committed a crime or will be arrested for not paying.   Debt collectors may not garnish wages or property without a court judgment.

How to stop a debt collector?
If you believe a debt collector has violated the law, you have the right to sue in state or federal court.   You may recover damages, court costs, and attorney fees if you win.   Whether or not you sue, you should report any problems with a debt collector to the States Attorney and the Federal Trade Commission.   Once a collector receives a letter telling them to stop contacting you, they may only contact you to say that there will be not further contact or regarding a specific action.

Thanks to the Ann Arbor Tenants Union for the credit information