has been 25 years since Chicago’s City Council enacted the Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance.

During that time, the Ordinance has become a landmark of tenant rights, a source of key information for thousands of people.
Reflecting on Tenant Rights The Metropolitan Tenants Organization is recognizing four people for their contribution to tenants rights in Chicago. We share their perspective on tenant rights and the significance of the Landlord Tenant Ordinance.
I think landlords and tenants have learned to live with the Ordinance. In the end, the Ordinance can still help get parties together to figure out solutions to everyday problems.” Meanwhile, he says there’s still work to do. “Most tenants are probably not aware of the Ordinance,” says Rose (even though all tenants are given a copy of the Ordinance when they sign a lease in Chicago). “There’s still a lot of education about it that needs to happen.” “The Ordinance codified areas where there were disputes – and set up remedies either party could enforce,” says Wilen. “It made clear what the rights are for tenants and landlords.” “We are still trying to make sure that landlords and tenants get what they bargained for – and what was agreed to. The Ordinance set forth a comprehensive standard that tried to govern all aspects of the relationship between landlords and tenants. Before the Ordinance, renting in Chicago was like the Wild West; now the sheriff is in town.”

Metropolitan Tenants Organization Celebrating 25 Years of Renters Rights
JUNE 19, 2012 –– It

Hank Rose Professor of Law, Loyola University. Rose practiced law for the Cook County Legal Assistance Foundation and was the director of the Loyola University Community Law Center. He co-wrote the Landlord Tenant Ordinance. “Early on, we found that two problems stood out for tenants,” says Rose. “One was security deposits, and the other was conditions. If tenants lived in substandard conditions and a landlord dragged his feet, the tenants didn’t have many remedies.” Rose adds that something that didn’t happen after the Ordinance was passed is also significant. “Realtors and others said that if the Ordinance passes, rents will skyrocket in Chicago. But rents have never skyrocketed. Basically,

“Before the [Landlord Tenants] Ordinance, renting in Chicago was like the Wild West; now the sheriff is in town.”

-—William P. Wilen, co counsel, Shriver Center on Poverty Law and co-author of Ordinance

William P. Wilen of counsel, Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law. He has served as Director Housing Litigation for the Shriver Center and was with the Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago when he co-authored the Ordinance.

“What is the legacy of the Ordinance? Well, it’s used every day to assist tenants. And, of course, it has withstood the test of time. The Ordinance is viable – it matters, and it touches the lives of thousands. My big question now is “Are there adequate resources for tenants who have issues that arise under the Ordinance?”

It is the purpose of this chapter and the policy of the city, in order to protect and promote the public health, safety and welfare of its citizens, to establish the rights and obligations of the landlord and the tenant in the rental of dwelling units, and to encourage the landlord and the tenant to maintain and improve the quality of housing.

Source: Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance

“The Ordinance is more than a law—following it also represents good business practice.”
Helen sHilleR Alderman, 46th Ward between 1987 and 2011. “Over the years, there have been a lot of attempts to make changes that could have undermined the Ordinance,” says Shiller, who was voted into office a year after the Ordinance passed. “There were a number of years when landlords wanted to make changes, and I was concerned that whatever occurred could undermine the benefits tenants had achieved. We have worked to make sure the Ordinance remains strong.” While serving as alderman for nearly a quarter-century, Shiller was frequently involved in the conversation about tenant rights in Chicago. She calls the Ordinance an important piece of an overall strategy for affordable housing in Chicago. “Tenant rights is one piece of an ongoing effort for people to have decent and affordable housing,” she says. “That includes making sure our housing stock is in good shape, and that people can afford to live in Chicago.” Shiller adds that the Ordinance reflects efforts to sustain a movement on a key issue. “There’s something to be said,” she adds, “about a movement based on what needs people have.” TafT WesT Director of Property Management Training, Community Investment Corporation. West has worked in various management assignments in the real estate industry in condominiums, affordable and public housing properties. Taft West’s work is one sure sign that the benefits of the Ordinance do not just reach tenants – they reach landlords. For many years, West has been educating property managers through trainings offered by the Community Investment Corporation in Chicago. One of his points is that the Ordinance should be a valuable tool – for landlords as well as tenants. West emphasizes that the Ordinance is more than a law – following it also represents good business practice. Trainings that he organizes and conducts frequently include a section on landlordtenant law that features the Ordinance. The property management trainings and manual developed by CIC, in fact, point out that it’s important for property owners and managers in Chicago to review the Ordinance, which they can learn about in a summary or the longer version (both are published online). West adds that the Ordinance can help property managers and owners craft a tenant handbook for their properties.

-—Taft West, Director of Property Management Training, Community Investment Corporation

“There’s something to be said about a movement based on what needs people have.”

—Helen Shiller, Alderman, 46Th Ward Between 1987 and 2011

Metropolitan Tenants Organization 2150 S. Canalport, Suite 2B-2 Chicago, IL 60608 Tel: 773/292-4980 Hotline: 773/292-4988 Fax: 773/292-0333 www.tenants-rights.org

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