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Metropolitan Tenants Organization

Hotline: (773) 292-4988

Chicago, IL 60622
1180 N. Milwaukee Avenue
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.
Homes 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
good condition. It is neat, clean, free of debris, can be controlled through medications and
rodents, and insects. There are no plumbing cleaning up your environment.
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? found in carpets, drapes, overstuffed furniture
Lead is a poison that impacts everyone, and bedding and the result of poor air sealing
especially children ages 6 years and younger. of windows and doors can allow outside dust
Lead can harm brain, nerves, kidneys, digestive into the home.
system, hearing and cause muscle and joint Other common household hazards that can
problems. Even at low levels, lead can affect trigger asthma attacks are:
cognitive abilities causing a lower IQ and * Leaking plumbing and roofs; water damaged
learning disabilities. The effects of lead on the
body and brain are irreversible.
* Poor ventilation in bathrooms and kitchens
How is lead related to your home?
* Basements and crawlspaces without proper
Lead was used in paint prior to 1978. Most
drainage or moisture control
Cover Art by Tony Doyle homes built prior to 1978 have some lead in
This pamphlet sets forth your rights under Chicago’s
them. Paint made prior to 1950 was especially * Infestations of cockroaches, mice and rats
RESIDENTIAL LANDLORD AND TENANT ORDINANCE, a set high in lead. The older the home is the greater the can cause allergic reactions
of local laws that provides you with many important protections.
If you live in Chicago, the Ordinance governs your tenancy unless
potential hazard. Paint chips are high in lead. * Extreme temperature shifts, either hot or
you reside in: Lead dust, not paint chips, are the main source cold, can trigger asthma attacks
An owner occupied building containing less than seven
of lead poisoning. Windows and porches are the
most likely lead hazards in your home. What can you do to protect the health of you
A hotel, motel, inn, rooming house, or boarding house
and your family?
! Are there other sources of lead around my
(unless you have resided there for more than 31 days and The most important step is to get the landlord
pay rent on a monthly basis); or
to remove the hazard. Inform the landlord
! A hospital, convent, monastery, school dormitory, Yes, soil around your home and, in older homes,
verbally and in writing of any leaks, pests,
temporary overnight or transitional shelter, cooperative, or some water pipes may contain lead.
a building owned by your employer (assuming your right mold, severe drafts or other hazards. As a
to live there is conditioned upon you being employed in or What is asthma? tenant you can make sure that your apartment
around the building). Asthma is a chronic disease of the lungs that is neat and clean. Clean the floors, window
Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago and makes it very difficult to breathe. The small and frames and sills, counter tops and other
Metropolitan Tenants Organization - 2006 medium airways swell and fill with mucus when surfaces with a damp cloth using dishwashing
Feel free to copy this pamphlet they come into contact with certain liquid (such as Dawn).
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

Metropolitan Tenants Organization.....................(773) 292-4988

Does the landlord have to provide heat and If the landlord replaces my windows or disclosure form that details any known lead Tenants’ rights hotline
air-conditioning if I have asthma? remodels my unit can it harm my family’s hazard in your unit or the common areas and a Department of Consumer Services.......................(312) 744-9400
health? copy of the EPA booklet "Protect Your Family Security deposit complaints
The landlord must provide heat from heat
September 15 - June 1. The landlord must Yes, if the repairs or remodeling is not done using From Lead In Your Home". Under 2004 Mayor’s Office of Inquiry and Information........(312) 744-5000
City building inspectors
maintain the following minimum proper procedures, it can spread lead dust and Childhood Lead Prevention Act, the landlord
temperatures: other allergens. Call the Health Department if you must also post a notice if a lead hazard has been Resources for Apartment Dispute Resolution.....(312) 922-6464
Mediation services
believe there is a problem. found in another unit. That notice must remain
68 degrees from 8:30 am to 10:30 pm posted until the hazard is taken care of. Chicago Department of Public Health................(312) 747-LEAD
Can I withhold rent or use my rent to fix a Lead poisoning information
66 degrees from 10:30 pm - 8:30 am mold problem? Can my landlord evict me for complaining
LIHEAP..................................................................(312) 795-8800
The landlord is not required to provide air- Yes, See “Apartment Repairs and Conditions. about these issues? Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program
conditioning. Mold grows on wet or damp surfaces. If mold No, your landlord cannot evict you for Chicago Department of Aging..............................(312) 744-4016
What if I have lead paint in my apartment? exists in your apartment, it is important to fix any complaining. However, if you feel that your
Chicago Legal Clinic............................................(773) 731-1762
moisture problem first. Painting over mold does landlord may be retaliating against you (served Eviction defense
Most apartments built prior to 1978 have lead not get rid of the problem. Only after the moisture you with 5-, 10-, 30-day notice; shuts off utilities,
paint. Lead paint becomes hazardous when it is problem is fixed should you paint.” etc. after you have complained), contact MTO or CARPLES (Cook County)...................................(312) 738-9200
disturbed by friction, impact and moisture Legal advice
an attorney.
which causes the paint to break down into dust. Is my landlord responsible if my property is This pamphlet, published by the Legal Assistance Foundation of
If you suspect your apartment has a lead hazard damaged by mold? Can I terminate the lease for a health issue? Chicago and the Metropolitan Tenants Organization as a public
service, gives you only a general idea of your rights and respon-
call the Department of Health to have it tested. Make a detailed list of all the property damaged Yes; however you must send your landlord a sibilities under the Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance
and other relevant chapters of Chicago’s Municipal Code. It is
What should I do if there is a lead hazard in and send the list to the landlord asking for written 30-day notice of your intention to meant to inform, but not to sdvise. Before enforcing your rights,
your unit? compensation. If the landlord refuses to pay you terminate your tenancy. You must also have 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.
will need to contact an attorney. proper documentation from your doctor stating
Inform the landlord. Call the City of Chicago that the condition of your apartment aggravated This panphlet is part of a series devoted to the/she following ten
Department of Health’s Childhood Lead What about Roaches? topics:
your condition. Also, make note of days and
Prevention Program. You can request an You can use repair remedies described in times when your health condition worsens. See Apartment Conditions & Leases
inspection. The Department of Health has “Apartment Repairs and Conditions” to get rid of “Apartment Repairs and Conditions” brochure to
! !
Repairs ! Evictions
several programs that may provide financial pests. Beware that pesticides can also trigger find out the proper way to terminate the lease. ! Heat and Other Essential ! Moving Out
assistance to landlords seeking to replace old asthma attacks. Integrated Pest Management Services ! Security
windows. Systems are a way to control pests without using If I terminate my lease for health reasons will ! Building Security, Locks & the Deposits
my landlord have to return the deposit? Law
If the landlord refuses to make repairs and old pesticides. ! Moving in
Lock-Outs & Retaliation Healthy
paint is pulling away from the wall, cracking, Does my landlord have to inform me if there is Yes, if your health problems were caused by code ! !
! Tenant Responsibilities Homes
chipping or peeling and it is a code violation, lead in my apartment? violations and you gave the landlord proper
notice as described above, then the landlord must Printing courtesy
you can give the landlord a 14-day written
notice to reduce your rent. See "Apartment Under federal law, at the start of a tenancy, the return your deposit. See “Security Deposits”
Repairs and Conditions" landlord must provide tenants with a lead pamphlet.

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