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Healthy Homes

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.

Metropolitan Tenants Organization

1180 N. Milwaukee Avenue Chicago, IL 60622 Hotline: (773) 292-4988

What is a healthy home?

environmental allergens. In some cases asthma A healthy home is a house or apartment that is in can cause death. Asthma cannot be cured but it can be controlled through medications and good condition. It is neat, clean, free of debris, cleaning up your environment. rodents, and insects. There are no plumbing leaks, roof leaks, or otherwise. The appliances What allergens found in the home can cause work. Paint is in good condition (no cracking, asthma? chipping or peeling paint). The heat, hot water Dust mites are a common allergen that can and other essential services work. trigger an asthma attack. Dust mites can be 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? 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

Cover Art by Tony Doyle

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:

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An owner occupied building containing less than seven apartments; A 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 A 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

* Basements and crawlspaces without proper Lead was used in paint prior to 1978. Most drainage or moisture control homes built prior to 1978 have some lead in * Infestations of cockroaches, mice and rats them. Paint made prior to 1950 was especially high in lead. The older the home is the greater the can cause allergic reactions potential hazard. Paint chips are high in lead. * Extreme temperature shifts, either hot or Lead dust, not paint chips, are the main source cold, can trigger asthma attacks of lead poisoning. Windows and porches are the What can you do to protect the health of you most likely lead hazards in your home. and your family? Are there other sources of lead around my The most important step is to get the landlord home? to remove the hazard. Inform the landlord Yes, soil around your home and, in older homes, verbally and in writing of any leaks, pests, some water pipes may contain lead. mold, severe drafts or other hazards. As a What is asthma? tenant you can make sure that your apartment is neat and clean. Clean the floors, window Asthma is a chronic disease of the lungs that makes it very difficult to breathe. The small and frames and sills, counter tops and other medium airways swell and fill with mucus when surfaces with a damp cloth using dishwashing liquid (such as Dawn). they come into contact with certain

For Help or Information:
Legal Assistance Foundation...............................(312) 341-1070 Legal help for low-income tenants Lawyers Committee for Better Housing..............(312) 347-7600 Retaliation and eviction defense

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 airconditioning.

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

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 Yes, if the repairs or remodeling is not done using From Lead In Your Home". Under 2004 Childhood Lead Prevention Act, the landlord proper procedures, it can spread lead dust and other allergens. Call the Health Department if you must also post a notice if a lead hazard has been found in another unit. That notice must remain believe there is a problem. posted until the hazard is taken care of. Can I withhold rent or use my rent to fix a Can my landlord evict me for complaining mold problem? about these issues? Yes, See “Apartment Repairs and Conditions. 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, etc. after 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. 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.

Metropolitan Tenants Organization.....................(773) 292-4988 Tenants’ rights hotline Department of Consumer Services.......................(312) 744-9400 Security deposit complaints Mayor’s Office of Inquiry and Information........(312) 744-5000 City building inspectors Resources for Apartment Dispute Resolution.....(312) 922-6464 Mediation services Chicago Department of Public Health................(312) 747-LEAD Lead poisoning information LIHEAP..................................................................(312) 795-8800 Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program Chicago Department of Aging..............................(312) 744-4016 Chicago Legal Clinic............................................(773) 731-1762 Eviction defense CARPLES (Cook County)...................................(312) 738-9200 Legal advice 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 responsibilities 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:

Mold grows on wet or damp surfaces. If mold exists in your apartment, it is important to fix any What if I have lead paint in my apartment? moisture problem first. Painting over mold does Most apartments built prior to 1978 have lead not get rid of the problem. Only after the moisture paint. Lead paint becomes hazardous when it is problem is fixed should you paint.” disturbed by friction, impact and moisture which causes the paint to break down into dust. Is my landlord responsible if my property is If you suspect your apartment has a lead hazard damaged by mold? call the Department of Health to have it tested. Make a detailed list of all the property damaged What should I do if there is a lead hazard in and send the list to the landlord asking for compensation. If the landlord refuses to pay you your unit? will need to contact an attorney. Inform the landlord. Call the City of Chicago What about Roaches? Department of Health’s Childhood Lead Prevention Program. You can request an You can use repair remedies described in inspection. The Department of Health has “Apartment Repairs and Conditions” to get rid of several programs that may provide financial pests. Beware that pesticides can also trigger assistance to landlords seeking to replace old asthma attacks. Integrated Pest Management windows. Systems are a way to control pests without using If the landlord refuses to make repairs and old pesticides. paint is pulling away from the wall, cracking, Does my landlord have to inform me if there is chipping or peeling and it is a code violation, lead in my apartment? you can give the landlord a 14-day written Under federal law, at the start of a tenancy, the notice to reduce your rent. See "Apartment landlord must provide tenants with a lead Repairs and Conditions"

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Apartment Conditions & Repairs Heat and Other Essential Services Building Security, Locks & the Law Lock-Outs & Retaliation Tenant Responsibilities
Printing courtesy

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Leases Evictions Moving Out Security Deposits Moving in Healthy Homes