August 15, 2014

City of Chicago Announces Enforcement Efforts Under the Keep Chicago Renting Ordinance

City Investigating Multiple Complaints from Coalition and Has Notified More Than a Dozen Banks of Obligations Under Ordinance

Mika Stambaugh, Director of Communications or 312.805.9385

Mayor Emanuel and the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) announced today that the City, in partnership with other community advocate groups, is investigating multiple complaints by residents whose tenant rights may have been violated under the Protecting Tenants in Foreclosed Rental Property Ordinance (Keep Chicago Renting Ordinance), and is calling upon banks and property managers to comply with the law. 
BACP is reviewing 30 complaint affidavits and has issued nearly a dozen subpoenas. To ensure that banks comply with the ordinance, BACP has also sent letters to more than a dozen banks notifying and reminding them of their obligations under the ordinance. Tenants and owners of foreclosed rental properties can click here to learn their rights and responsibilities under the Ordinance and BACP urges all tenants who believe that these rights have been violated to call 3-1-1.

“The Emanuel Administration is committed to ensuring that rental residents have the full protection provided by this ordinance and we will crack down on any banks or property owners who violate its terms,” said Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Commissioner Maria Guerra Lapacek, “That’s why we are investigating dozens of complaints and will continue to vigorously enforce the ordinance. I urge all residents to know their rights and call 3-1-1 if their rights have been violated.”

Mayor Emanuel’s strong support was instrumental in getting this ordinance passed by City Council. The Keep Chicago Renting Ordinance requires the new owners of foreclosed properties to provide written notice of the change in ownership to all tenants within 21 days after becoming the new owner or within 7 days of determining the tenant’s identity.

Notice must be delivered to known tenants or household members 13 years or older, or mailed. In addition, notice must be posted on the primary entrance of each foreclosed property. The new owner is also required to notify tenants of their options under the Ordinance, which include the new owner offering to renew or extend the tenant’s rental agreement for the rental amount not greater than 102% of the tenant’s current annual rent, or providing qualified tenants with $10,600 for relocation assistance.

BACP developed its framework for enforcing the ordinance in partnership with the Keep Chicago Renting Coalition (Coalition).  In consultation with the Coalition, BACP created an intake process to be utilized by the City’s 311 Center for residents to file complaints with the City.  Also, the City is working in partnership with the Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing (Lawyers’ Committee) to track calls from tenants who believe their rights have been violated under the Ordinance, and is providing those tenants with pro bono legal services, advocacy, and other direct services to assist those tenants.

“It is so important for tenants who believe their rights were violated to file a complaint by calling 3-1-1 or may complete and submit the affidavit online to begin the investigation process, said BACP Commissioner Guerra Lapacek.”

The City has also taken steps to strengthen compliance with the Keep Chicago Renting Ordinance. In July, BACP Commissioner Lapacek sent letters to more than a dozen banks and lenders to notify and remind them about the Ordinance and the City’s commitment to its enforcement.

To help identify noncompliant buildings, the Coalition provided the City with a list of unregistered properties. Additionally, the City has been working closely with the Lawyers’ Committee and the Metropolitan Tenants Organization to identify buildings that may be in violation of the Ordinance and to address tenant consumer protection matters.

To date, the City has received 1,315 rental property registrations under the Ordinance. BACP strongly encourages all renters to learn about their rights under the ordinance and report any violations to the City. Residents can click here to understand the protections of the Keep Chicago Renting Ordinance. If a tenant believes that her rights have been violated, they should notify the City immediately by calling 3-1-1. Tenants may also complete and submit an online affidavit form that can be found here. The affidavit form can be found on the BACP and the Department of Buildings’ website. BACP will investigate all complaints and prosecute violations of tenants’ rights. The Coalition has helped tenants file nearly two dozen affidavits, which BACP is using to investigate claims of ordinance violations.  

To date, BACP has issued close to a dozen subpoenas seeking information from new owners of foreclosed buildings. If BACP determines that an owner has violated the ordinance, it will take enforcement action. If an owner fails to comply with the Ordinance, the qualified tenant shall be awarded damages in an amount equal to two times the relocation assistance fee.


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