January 27, 2015

Mayor Emanuel, Department Of Buildings Publish Problem Landlords List

Identifies Residential Building Owners Repeatedly Cited for Failure to Provide Tenants with Basic Services and Protections

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

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Department of Buildings today announced the publication of the first Problem Landlords List identifying 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. Those on the list have been found liable in two or more Administrative Hearing cases within a 24-month period and have three or more serious building code violations.
 
The list includes 59 owners of 45 problem properties where the owners aren't delivering the services residents are entitled to. The list and an interactive map can be found at: http://www.chicago.gov/city/en/depts/bldgs/supp_info/building-code-scofflaw-list.html.
 
“Today we are sending a clear message to landlords who fail to provide their tenants with even the most basic safety standards and protections – if you don’t get your act together – you won’t do business anymore in the City of Chicago,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Every renter in the City of Chicago is entitled to be safe and to have basic protections such as adequate heat in the winter. This list is an important part of our effort to improve living conditions for renters by holding landlords accountable who repeatedly fail to meet their responsibilities.”
 
The new list is the direct result of the Eri’ana Patton Smith and Coleman/Clark Kids Tenant Protection Ordinance, approved by City Council on January 21, 2015, honoring Carliysia Clark, Carlvon Clark, Shamarion Coleman and Eri’ana Patton Smith, the children who so tragically lost their lives because of a series of building code violations, including lack of or nonworking smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
 
The City’s Department of Buildings (DOB), in consultation with the Department of Law (DOL), developed the Problem Landlords List. This list will be published on a bi-annual basis and will provide residential building owners an opportunity to appeal. 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.
 
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.
 
Today, DOB also published an updated Building Code Scofflaw List with additional information, including 18 property owners and 79 properties. By separate ordinance passed in 2010, the City publishes a Building Code Scofflaw List annually, identifying residential building owners with three or more properties that are the subject of active Circuit Court cases where the violations remain uncorrected after the second court hearing. The new Problem Landlords ordinance also provides new avenues for enforcement against those on the Building Code Scofflaw List.
 
Problem landlords and Building Code Scofflaws are now required to provide the DOB a list of tenants living in the affected buildings as well as a list of other properties which they have substantial ownership interest within 14 days of receiving notice.  Failure to do so will carry new fines and penalties.
 
The penalties for those on the Problem Landlords and Building Code Scofflaw Lists will incentivize better conditions for renters, improved maintenance of their buildings and compliance with the Chicago Municipal Code.
 
“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 and for maintaining their properties and gain compliance before a tragedy occurs.”
 
The Department of Buildings also regularly refers buildings with dangerous and hazardous conditions to the Department of Law to process for Circuit Court for enhanced enforcement through the Troubled Building Initiative (TBI) and other means. Currently, the City has 102 active Troubled Building Initiative cases.
   
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.
 
If you are a renter and your landlord is not providing adequate services and protections, please contact 311 to file a complaint. The Department of Buildings will inspect your unit and take necessary action against delinquent building owners.

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