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Chicago, IL 60622 Hotline: (773) 292-4988

Chicago, IL 60622 Hotline: (773) 292-4988 Healthy Homes Metropolitan Tenants Organization 1180
Chicago, IL 60622 Hotline: (773) 292-4988 Healthy Homes Metropolitan Tenants Organization 1180
Healthy Homes Metropolitan Tenants Organization 1180 N. Milwaukee Avenue
Metropolitan Tenants Organization
N. Milwaukee Avenue

Cover Art by Tony Doyle

N. Milwaukee Avenue Cover Art by Tony Doyle This pamphlet sets forth your rights under
N. Milwaukee Avenue Cover Art by Tony Doyle This pamphlet sets forth your rights under

This pamphlet sets forth your rights under Chicago’s RESIDENTIAL LANDLORD AND TENANT ORDINANCE, a set of local laws that provides you with many important protections. If you live in Chicago, the Ordinance governs your tenancy unless you reside in:

An owner occupied building containing less than seven



hotel, motel, inn, rooming house, or boarding house

(unless you have resided there for more than 31 days and pay rent on a monthly basis); or


hospital, convent, monastery, school dormitory,

temporary overnight or transitional shelter, cooperative, or

a building owned by your employer (assuming your right

to live there is conditioned upon you being employed in or

around the building).

Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago and Metropolitan Tenants Organization - 2006

Feel free to copy this pamphlet


This pamphlet describes the interconnection between the health of family living in rental housing, the laws that protect them and the steps available to protect the health of the tenant.

What is a healthy home?

A healthy home is a house or apartment that is in good condition. It is neat, clean, free of debris, rodents, and insects. There are no plumbing leaks, roof leaks, or otherwise. The appliances work. Paint is in good condition (no cracking, chipping or peeling paint). The heat, hot water and other essential services work.

What is lead poisoning?

Lead is a poison that impacts everyone, especially children ages 6 years and younger. Lead can harm brain, nerves, kidneys, digestive system, hearing and cause muscle and joint problems. Even at low levels, lead can affect cognitive abilities causing a lower IQ and learning disabilities. The effects of lead on the body and brain are irreversible.

How is lead related to your home?

Lead was used in paint prior to 1978. Most homes built prior to 1978 have some lead in them. Paint made prior to 1950 was especially high in lead. The older the home is the greater the potential hazard. Paint chips are high in lead. Lead dust, not paint chips, are the main source of lead poisoning. Windows and porches are the most likely lead hazards in your home.

Are there other sources of lead around my home?

Yes, soil around your home and, in older homes, some water pipes may contain lead.

What is asthma?

Asthma is a chronic disease of the lungs that makes it very difficult to breathe. The small and medium airways swell and fill with mucus when they come into contact with certain

environmental allergens. In some cases asthma can cause death. Asthma cannot be cured but it can be controlled through medications and cleaning up your environment.

What allergens found in the home can cause asthma?

Dust mites are a common allergen that can trigger an asthma attack. Dust mites can be found in carpets, drapes, overstuffed furniture and bedding and the result of poor air sealing of windows and doors can allow outside dust into the home.

Other common household hazards that can trigger asthma attacks are:

* Leaking plumbing and roofs; water damaged areas

* Poor ventilation in bathrooms and kitchens

* Basements and crawlspaces without proper drainage or moisture control

* Infestations of cockroaches, mice and rats can cause allergic reactions

* Extreme temperature shifts, either hot or cold, can trigger asthma attacks

What can you do to protect the health of you and your family?

The most important step is to get the landlord to remove the hazard. Inform the landlord verbally and in writing of any leaks, pests, mold, severe drafts or other hazards. As a tenant you can make sure that your apartment is neat and clean. Clean the floors, window frames and sills, counter tops and other surfaces with a damp cloth using dishwashing liquid (such as Dawn).

Does the landlord have to provide heat and air-conditioning if I have asthma? The
Does the landlord have to provide heat and air-conditioning if I have asthma? The

Does the landlord have to provide heat and air-conditioning if I have asthma?

The landlord must provide heat from heat September 15 - June 1. The landlord must maintain the following minimum temperatures:

68 degrees from 8:30 am to 10:30 pm

66 degrees from 10:30 pm - 8:30 am

The landlord is not required to provide air- conditioning.

What if I have lead paint in my apartment?

Most apartments built prior to 1978 have lead paint. Lead paint becomes hazardous when it is disturbed by friction, impact and moisture which causes the paint to break down into dust. If you suspect your apartment has a lead hazard call the Department of Health to have it tested.

What should I do if there is a lead hazard in your unit?

Inform the landlord. Call the City of Chicago Department of Health’s Childhood Lead Prevention Program. You can request an inspection. The Department of Health has several programs that may provide financial assistance to landlords seeking to replace old windows.

If the landlord refuses to make repairs and old paint is pulling away from the wall, cracking, chipping or peeling and it is a code violation, you can give the landlord a 14-day written notice to reduce your rent. See "Apartment Repairs and Conditions"

If the landlord replaces my windows or remodels my unit can it harm my family’s health?

Yes, if the repairs or remodeling is not done using proper procedures, it can spread lead dust and other allergens. Call the Health Department if you believe there is a problem.

Can I withhold rent or use my rent to fix a mold problem?


M old grows on wet or damp surfaces. If mold

exists in your apartment, it is important to fix any moisture problem first. Painting over mold does not get rid of the problem. Only after the moisture problem is fixed should you paint.”

Is my landlord responsible if my property is damaged by mold?

Make a detailed list of all the property damaged and send the list to the landlord asking for compensation. If the landlord refuses to pay you will need to contact an attorney.

What about Roaches?

You can use repair remedies described in

“ Apartment Repairs and Conditions” to get rid of

pests. Beware that pesticides can also trigger asthma attacks. Integrated Pest Management Systems are a way to control pests without using


Does my landlord have to inform me if there is lead in my apartment?

Under federal law, at the start of a tenancy, the landlord must provide tenants with a lead

See “Apartment Repairs and Conditions.

disclosure form that details any known lead hazard in your unit or the common areas and a copy of the EPA booklet "Protect Your Family From Lead In Your Home". Under 2004 Childhood Lead Prevention Act, the landlord must also post a notice if a lead hazard has been found in another unit. That notice must remain posted until the hazard is taken care of.

Can my landlord evict me for complaining about these issues?

No, your landlord cannot evict you for complaining. However, if you feel that your landlord may be retaliating against you (served

you with 5-, 10-, 30-day notice; shuts off utilities,

you have complained), contact MTO or

an attorney.

Can I terminate the lease for a health issue?

Yes; however you must send your landlord a written 30-day notice of your intention to terminate your tenancy. You must also have proper documentation from your doctor stating that the condition of your apartment aggravated your condition. Also, make note of days and times when your health condition worsens. See “Apartment Repairs and Conditions” brochure to find out the proper way to terminate the lease.

etc. after

If I terminate my lease for health reasons will my landlord have to return the deposit?

Yes, if your health problems were caused by code violations and you gave the landlord proper notice as described above, then the landlord must return your deposit. See “Security Deposits” pamphlet.

For Help or Information:

Legal Assistance Foundation Legal help for low-income tenants



Lawyers Committee for Better Housing Retaliation and eviction defense



Metropolitan Tenants Organization Tenants’ rights hotline



Department of Consumer Services Security deposit complaints



Mayor’s Office of Inquiry and Information City building inspectors



Resources for Apartment Dispute Resolution Mediation services



Chicago Department of Public Health Lead poisoning information






Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program

Chicago Department of Aging

Chicago Legal Clinic Eviction defense

CARPLES (Cook County) Legal advice

(312) 744-4016

(773) 731-1762

(312) 738-9200

This pamphlet, published by the Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago and the Metropolitan Tenants Organization as a public service, gives you only a general idea of your rights and respon- sibilities under the Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance and other relevant chapters of Chicago’s Municipal Code. It is meant to inform, but not to sdvise. Before enforcing your rights, you may want to seek the advice of an attorney who can analyze the facts of your case and apply the law to these facts.

This panphlet is part of a series devoted to the/she following ten topics:

Apartment Conditions &




Heat and Other Essential

Moving Out



Building Security, Locks & the



Moving in

Lock-Outs & Retaliation


Tenant Responsibilities


Printing courtesy

Moving in Lock-Outs & Retaliation Healthy Tenant Responsibilities Homes Printing courtesy