January 21, 2015

Mayor Emanuel, City Council Approve Ordinance To Identify Irresponsible Residential Building Owners

Ordinance Provides New Avenues for Enforcement Against Landlords, Framework for City to Publish Problem Landlords List

Mayor’s Press Office 312.744.3334 press@cityofchicago.org    
Mimi Simon | Department of Buildings 312.743.7204 mimi.simon@cityofchicago.org

For Immediate Release

City Council today passed the Eri’ana Patton Smith and Coleman/Clark Kids Tenant Protection Ordinance to identify residential building owners repeatedly cited for failing to provide tenants with basic services and protections, such as adequate heat, hot water, and working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Landlords will find themselves on a Problem Landlords List if they have been found liable in two or more Administrative Hearing cases within a 24-month period and they have three or more serious building code violations.

“Following the tragic fire on the South Side of Chicago last September, it was clear that we needed to do more to hold landlords accountable for chronic building code violations,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “We owe this to the memory of Carliysia Clark, Carlvon Clark, Shamarion Coleman and Eri’ana Patton Smith, the children who so tragically lost their lives that day because of lack of working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and other building code violations.”

The City’s Department of Buildings (DOB), in consultation with the Department of Law (DOL), will develop and publish the Problem Landlords List and provide residential building owners an opportunity to appeal. The City will publish the first edition of the Problem Landlords List on the DOB website by Monday, January 26, 2015. DOB will send letters to landlords that appear on the list to notify them of their violations and the new penalties they may face if they do not address the building code violations and bring their buildings into compliance.

The ordinance provides for a number of penalties against identified landlords that will incentivize better conditions for renters, improved maintenance of their buildings and compliance with the Chicago Municipal Code. Building owners who appear on the list will not be able to obtain business licenses, receive zoning changes, acquire city land or receive financial assistance like Tax Increment Financing (TIF), or obtain building permits not related to addressing their violations. The most serious offenders, who have already been found liable by a hearing officer or a judge and have failed to comply, could be subject to forfeiture or receivership to third parties who can provide for the life safety and welfare of the residents in their buildings.

“When a landlord does not provide adequate living conditions for their tenants, especially during the harsh winter months, it elevates the problem and poses hazardous living conditions,” said DOB Commissioner Felicia Davis. “Our first line of defense is to hold property owners responsible for maintaining their properties and keeping them in safe condition.”

In 2014 alone, DOB completed a total of 258,027 building inspections and issued 3,362 violations for lack of or non-working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, 1,021 violations for insufficient heat, 3,980 violations for dangerous and hazardous porches, and 789 violations for rodent and insect infestations and 439 violations for lack of hot water.

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