- About the Illinois Tenant Union:
In 1976, we first organized in Evanston under the name Tenants Organization of Evanston.
In 1984, we organized the Tenants Organization of Illinois to serve tenants who lived in Mount Prospect and elsewhere.
In 1988, we founded the Illinois Tenants Union and relocated our office to Chicago with the intention of directly assisting Chicago tenants as well as tenants throughout the Chicago metropolitan area.
- Today, about 8,000 tenants a year call us for information about their rights or for assistance with problems with their landlords. It is true that lack of legal knowledge is a major problem. However, the ITU also found that merely advising tenants about their rights was not enough. In order for tenants to be confident of success in solving their problems, we found it also necessary for a tenants’ organization to actively assist them in exercising their rights.
All of the funds used to operate the tenants union come from the tenants we help. If our services were not good, tenants would not be supporting us after all these years.
- Through the years of experience of actually helping tenants win, ITU has focused its efforts on four main areas of conflict. We are particularly concerned with the deteriorating condition of properties in Chicago, and the injustices perpetrated against tenants in the eviction court.
- ITU also assists hundreds of tenants each year in legally terminating their leases, and assists some tenants in retrieving stolen security deposits through the courts.
- The ITU is affiliated with the International Code Council and is a member of the Housing Advocacy Consortium.
Executive Director Michael Pensack
Michael Pensack is a licensed Illinois attorney who specializes in landlord and tenant law. In January, 1980, he began to work full-time for tenants rights. With an office in Evanston, later in Mount Prospect, and now in Chicago, he has assisted tens of thousands of tenants during the past 25 years.
He has helped draft municipal ordinances expanding the rights of tenants, inspected apartment buildings for defects and violations, counseled and assisted tenants in advocating their rights in dealings with their landlords, and worked with many other attorneys who were representing tenants in court.
In 1988, Michael Pensack founded the Illinois Tenants Union, and has since served as its Executive Director. Among his published writings, he has authored the chapter entitled “Renting Residential Property”, appearing in the American Bar Association’s “Family Legal Guide”, published by Random House in 2004. He has also been a guest lecturer on landlord and tenant law at the John Marshall Law School since 1992.
Associate Director, Douglas Pensack
Douglas Pensack has worked with the Illinois Tenants Union since 1989. He provides support services to ITU members and tenants, and also functions as an administrator of the ITU.
Assistant Director, John W. Fry
John W. Fry has worked with the Illinois Tenants Union since 1999. He was previously a union organizer for many years with the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees’ Union. He is a licensed Illinois Home Inspector. He conducts inspections of apartments and provides other support services to tenants.
If you have any questions or would like more information, or to discuss your rights please contact us (773) 478-1133, email us, or use our online request form.