CITY COUNCIL PASSES CONDO CONVERSION ORDINANCE
With Mayor Daley overseeing his final Chicago City Council meeting, the aldermen unanimously passed a condo conversion ordinance. The ordinance represents five years of struggle on the part of tenants, condominium buyers, community organizations and advocates. This legislation will protect tenants and condominium buyers caught in the instability created by the conversion of rental buildings to condominium buildings.
The roots of this ordinance are found in the condo craze of 2005 to 2007, which ultimately contributed to the mortgage crisis and related foreclosure crisis. In 2006, renters were being ejected from their homes with minimal to no notice and left those purchasing converted units with few protections against what was often a speedy and poorly implemented conversion process. Quickly, those victimized in the process, along with their advocates, recognized the need for protections to be put in place. This outcry resulted in Mayor Daley appointing Alderman Ray Suarez to lead the Condo Conversion Task Force. The Task Force’s work spanned almost four years and ultimately led to an ordinance that provides renters and condo buyers with critical protections including:
- Changing the notification period from 120 days to 180 days. For seniors and those with disabilities, notification would change from 180 to 210 days.
- Low and moderate income renters receive relocation assistance. The assistance equals the larger of one month’s rent or $1,500 (up to a maximum of $2,500).
- Consumer protections for condo buyers.
According to Zakiyyah S. Muhammad, a victim of condo conversion, “I enjoyed fighting for protections for families who rent so that they can avoid the devastation that I encountered. This ordinance has been a long time coming; when you fight you win!” MTO celebrates the victory for tenants’ rights and the clear demonstration that tenants, working together, have the power to create change to protect their rights to safe, decent and affordable rental housing.
In another victory for affordable housing advocates, the City Council passed the Sweet Home Chicago Ordinance which allows TIF funds to be used for maintaining affordable housing.
The full text of the Condo Conversion Ordinance can be found here.
RENTERS’ RIGHTS IN CONDO CONVERSIONS – AN UPDATE
On Tuesday, April 19th, the Mayor’s Condo Conversion Task Force met to discuss proposed changes to their report in the latest episode in the now five-year long battle for an ordinance to protect renters and condo buyers during condo conversions.
The Task Force is proposing to change the notification period from 120 days to 180 days. For seniors and those people with disabilities, notification would change from 180 to 210 days. The Task Force also recommends that low and moderate income renters receive relocation assistance. The assistance equals the larger of one month’s rent or $1,500 up to a maximum of $2,500. City officials are still discussing how they will identify renters who qualify for this assistance.
The bill has been close to passing before and we are hopeful it will pass on Mayor Daley’s final City Council meeting. Significant progress has been made; however, there are still obstacles ahead. The next hurdle to clear is for the Housing Committee of the City Council to approve the bill. The Housing Committee’s meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, May 3rd, at 10:30am in room 200. MTO is encouraging all renters who have experienced displacement due to condo conversion to attend and testify.
MTO has been working on condo conversion since 2006. In 2006, renters marched through the Hyde Park neighborhood demanding justice for those being displaced by rampant condo conversion. In response, the Mayor convened the Condo Conversion Task Force; however, it failed to meet for a year. Following another demonstration led by MTO, this time at City Hall, the Committee held its first meeting. MTO was able to win a seat for a renter on the committee and has continued to monitor its work.
While there have been many ups and downs, a hopeful conclusion to years of struggle is close at hand. All those interested in attending the meeting of the Housing Committee on May 3rd to testify about their experiences should contact Shirley Johnson at 773.292.4980 ext. 224.
Condo Conversion Ordinance Passes Housing Committee on Way to Becoming Law
Update from the Chicago Tribune:
Mayor Richard Daley today angrily rebuked real estate groups that he said helped stop his plan to protect renters whose buildings are converted to condominiums.
Daley’s renter protection proposal failed to get a vote from the City Council, which sent the package back to committee for further consideration.
Read more at the Chicago Tribune’s Clout Street
After years of advocating for changes renters and condo buyers are on the verge of winning significant rights when an apartment building is converted to condominiums.
MTO tenant leaders have played an important part in getting the ordinance before the city council. MTO began its condo conversion campaign in 2005 when large number of tenants began calling the Hotline. Many tenants were receiving 30-day notices of termination of tenancy in violation of the Chicago Condo Ordinance requiring a 120-day notification when a landlord is converting a building. Unscrupulous developers take advantage of loopholes in state and city laws to do “stealth” condo conversions.
MTO brought tenants and community residents together to confront the problem. A march and rally was held on September 30th , 2006. A demand was made for public officials to address the dilemma renters are put in when developers attempt stealth conversion. Ald. Preckwinkle and Ald. Hairston attended the rally. The rally caused the Mayor to convene the Mayor’s Condominium Conversion Task Force on October 23rd 2006 to address the issue. Although the Task Force was formed they would not hold a meeting for almost a year.
In September 2007 MTO along with tenants and organizations from across the City held an action in front of City Hall to demand that the Mayor’s Task Force on Condo Conversion meet. The action led the Task Force to begin holding regular meetings. MTO leaders attended every meeting and testified to the need for a renter to be appointed to the Task Force. After months of work, tenant leader, Elizabeth Todd, was asked to join the Task Force to address the needs of renters. The new ordinance is a result of their recommendations of the Mayors Task Force on Condo Conversion and the input of tenant leaders from across the city working with MTO.
The ordinance increases the time of tenants to be notified from 4 to 9 months. It requires relocation assistance of $1,500 to renters being displaced. The ordinance also establishes a Condominium Registration Program for new and converted condos.
We at MTO would like to thank the Mayor, Task Force chairman, Alderman Ray Suarez, all the members of the Task Force and the hundreds of tenants who worked hard to pass this ordinance.
Come join us Saturday September 25th from 9am- 2pm at Truman College, 1145 W. Wilson Ave., for the cities largest rental housing expo, hosted by “Chicago Rents Right”. The highlight of the expo will be the workshops that will be put on by various organizations including workshops on bed bugs, building code violations, reasonable accommodations for the disabled, subsidized housing, foreclosures, credit repair, updates on the amended Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance, and even workshops for condo board associations. There will be translators available for Spanish speaking tenants. There will be counselors who specialize in foreclosure prevention and general landlord/tenant questions.
One of the most essential workshops this year will be on the subject of bed bugs. Nationwide, Chicago is one of the top 5 cities being hit by the bed bug epidemic. The workshop on bedbugs will be useful for those who are trying to get rid of bed bugs and useful for those trying to avoid getting bed bugs. If Chicago is going to be successful in doing away with this epidemic it will have to be done by those educated on how to effectively exterminate bed bugs AND citizens educated on how to stop the further spread of bed bugs.
“Chicago Rents Right” is a program of the Chicago Department of Community Development, and has a committee comprised of local community organizations, including Metropolitan Tenants Organization, with a common goal of helping tenants and/or landlords. Admission to the event and workshops is free.
Foreclosure (Right to Possession) Law: Public Act 095-0262
Illinois Code of Civil Procedure – Eviction – Sets out in detail the procedures and methodology of eviction court cases.
“New” Illinois Condo Conversion Law – Outlines a tenant’s rights and a developer’s responsibilities in converting rental property into condominiums for purchase.
Illinois Rent Concession Act – Statute requires disclosure of all rent concessions in leases so that potential buyers, etc. are not misled or deceived by secret and undisclosed concessions made by landlords to tenants.
Illinois Rent Control Preemption Act – State law provides that no local government like Chicago can regulate the amount of rent charged by landlords for residential and commercial property.
Illinois Rental Property Utility Service Act – Complex statute relating to the regulation of charges to tenants for utility services. The main provision relates to a tenant paying for common areas of a building and in such event, the court may treble the damage award when the court finds that the landlord’s violation of this Act was knowing or intentional. The tenant may also recover costs and fees, including attorneys fees, if the amount awarded by the court for utility service is in excess of $3,000.
Illinois Residential Tenants’ Right to Repair Act – Gives tenants the right to do certain repairs to their apartments and to deduct such payments, with proper documentation, from their rent. The state statute falls short of tenants’ rights under The Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance.
Illinois Retaliatory Eviction Act – Protects tenants in the State of Illinois from a landlord failing to renew a lease when the tenant has complained to a governmental agency about building code violations and the need for repairs. The state statute falls short of tenants’ rights under The Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance.
Illinois Safe Homes Act – Allows the victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking to terminate their lease by proper notice to the landlord. Also, changing locks is also provided for in this new law.
Safe Homes Act of Illinois (Domestic Violence)
Safe Homes Act Violence Against Women Flyer (English) (Spanish)
Safe Homes Act Violence Against Women Brochure (English) (Spanish)
Illinois Security Deposit Interest – Provides for the payment of interest on security deposits where the number of units in a building or in a complex of buildings exceeds 25 in number. If the failure is WILLFUL then damages are due to the tenant equal to the amount of the security deposit plus attorney’s fees. The state statute falls short of tenants’ rights under The Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance.
Illinois Security Deposit Return Act – For all properties of 5 units or more, provides for the return of the tenants security deposits. If the amount is not refunded in a timely fashion and/or if inadequate documentation of deductions is present, then damages equal to two times the amount of the deposit may be imposed. It provides for the liability of the seller and buyer of residential property as to security deposits of tenants. The state statute falls short of tenants’ rights under The Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance.
Illinois Landlord and Tenant Act – Statute providing that landlord may NOT exempt themselves from payment of damages to a tenant due to negligence of the landlord.
Illinois Tenant Utility Payment Disclosure Act – Allows owners to pass along utility charges made under a MASTER billing arrangement provided the tenant gets certain information in writing as to the formula used to assess such costs to individual units and so that there is no excess charges passed along to occupants of separate units.
Public Act 095-0262 – This law sets out the rights and procedures to be followed during a foreclosure (Right to Possession).