With Help MTO Resolves another Lockout. 

Last updated: May 16, 2021 – 1:16 PM

Ms. Bueno is a Pilsen resident. She became unemployed because of COVID-19.  The landlord turned hostile and refused to negotiate a fair agreement, which would take into consideration her financial hardship. Instead, her landlord started harassing her. She called MTO to report the landlord shutting off her lights and gas. 

A utility shutoff is a lockout, according to the City of Chicago Municipal code, so we instructed her to follow the City of Chicago’s lockout reporting procedure. She made a complaint to 311 and called the Police.  The officers did not take the matter seriously and claimed the situation was a civil matter.  As happens all too frequently, the officers did not follow the CPD Special Order #SO4-01-03

It took a while for Ms. Bueno to get a miscellaneous police report from the police and a building code violation.  She was able to get her utilities restored though this did not last long.  

The utilities did not stay on for long.  She called MTO again about another light shutoff and this time the landlord locked the breaker room access. We partner with the Chicago Tenants Movement (CTM) in order to create a more proactive response to lockouts. CTM sent a volunteer response team that included an electrician. The team was able to enter the breaker room and restore Ms. Bueno’s lights. The Chicago Tenants Movement response team took action when CPD and DOB would not. We need to push for proactive solutions to lockouts here in the City of Chicago.

Ms. Bueno is one of many stories of lockouts occurring in Chicago. Since the Eviction Moratorium began in March 2020, MTO has received reports on 574 lockouts. In a normal year, MTO receives about 250-300 lockout reports.  The COVID-19 pandemic has only multiplied the already existing housing crisis here in Illinois. The lack of consequences from the police and building department allows bad landlords to continue the illegal lockouts as a way to dance around the Eviction Moratorium. As the housing crisis escalates, we encourage you to join us in pushing resolutions to lockouts. Contact Javier Ruiz at javierr@tenants-rights.org to become part of the solution.

All 4 Comments

  1. Hi,
    I have posted here before but I have another question. I have never received a 5-day notice or notice of eviction. I have only received late letters, which a legal aid Chicago has said do not meet the standard to file an eviction. On Tuesday, my landlord said he is going to file if I do not make another payment. Can he file without not having issued an official 5-day notice? Can someone from MTO give me a call. I have called a 5763 number for legal assistance and LCBH but no one ever answers. I have been trying since May.

    1. Sometimes landlord and tenants use serving a 5 day notice to pay or vacate with filing an eviction. They are not the same. You are correct the first step the landlord must take is to serve you with a 5 day notice to pay or vacate. If you do not pay during the 5 days then the landlord can file an eviction. I do not know what the 5763 number is. I can ask one of Eviction Prevention Organizers to contact you via email as I do not see an phone number.

  2. My landlord also did what was called a lockout. I reported her to section 3 to 4 times from January to current because of the mold problem. The first event, I went without hot water, then the water pressure was low. She also has been trying to force her way into my apartment because she went into an abatement. She has painted over the mold, so the first series of complaints are now closed. I had to do another complaint and that resolves in them coming back the end of May. She keeps coming unannounced and doing bad practices when repairing the situation.

    1. The law does allow tenants to sue for a month’s rent every time the landlord violates the entry provisions. Before you can do that you must inform the landlord of their illegal act in writing and document the situation. Maybe video them as you ask them to leave and to follow the law and keep a diary of all illegal entries.

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