Music   

 

 


After the Civil War, in New York State, tenant farmers fought eviction by large wealthy landlords in the largest and longest rent strike in American history.

We posted this song so that it can be remembered, and so that Illinois Tenants who are facing an uphill battle against bad landlords can know how many have faced the same struggle before them.

Illinois Tenants Union believes all persons have a right to safe, decent, affordable housing and we work with tenants to assist in break Lease, eviction, security deposit and repairs in Chicago, Cook County, and Metro Chicago, Illinois

Chicago Tenant Rights

Our motto is: "Tenants' rights before property rights."

We are an organization which advocates for residential renters.

Chicago Tenant Rights - We serve those who rent in apartment buildings, condos, or houses in the City of Chicago, Cook County, or elsewhere in the suburban metropolitan area.

Whether the tenant has a problem with a landlord who does not make repairs or has been served a summons to go to court, tenants need to know their legal rights.

Residents of Chicago and Evanston are governed by a Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance (RLTO) and residents of Mount Prospect by the Residential Landlord and Tenant Regulations. Tenants living anywhere else are governed only by state law. You do not need to be a lawyer to read the law, but you do need someone experienced to help you exercise your rights under the law.

Besides advice, we provide four services to tenants: break lease security deposit repairs eviction

Full time professionally trained staff assist tenants when they call. Our executive director is a licensed Illinois attorney and has been serving tenants since 1980.

Please call us for a personal consultation at (773) 478-1133.

Appointments with a tenant counselor are available Monday through Saturday.

"Penny's Farm" by Pete Constantini, Rob Rosenthal

  • "Penny's Farm" / .wmv (520k) / .rm (1.50mb)

  • In 1649, in England, landless tenant farmers were removed with force from land the landlords were deliberately leaving uncultivated.

    Illinois Tenants Union believes all persons have a right to safe, decent, affordable housing and we work with tenants to assist in break Lease, eviction, security deposit and repairs in Chicago, Cook County, and Metro Chicago, Illinois.

    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 33 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.

  • "The World Turned Upside Down" / .wmv (1.06mb) / .rm (3.16mb)

  • In 1649, in England, landless tenant farmers were removed with force from land the landlords were deliberately leaving uncultivated.

    Illinois Tenants Union believes all persons have a right to safe, decent, affordable housing and we work with tenants to assist in break Lease, eviction, security deposit and repairs in Chicago, Cook County, and Metro Chicago, Illinois.

    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 33 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.

  • "Talking Tenant Blues" / .wmv (1.03mb) / .rm (3.08mb)

  • In 1550, in England, landlords closed down the almhouses, which sheltered and fed homeless tenants after they were evicted.

    Additional helpful information for Illinois Tenants:

    Chicago Apartment, Rental Repairs - Tenant.org

    Municipalities in Illinois have building or housing codes which describe in great detail the level of maintenance required of an owner of a building.

    The City of Chicago has written a Building Code which is unique in Illinois. That code has over 1,400 pages!

    Suburbs have usually adopted the codes of the International Code Council. (The Illinois Tenants Union is an associate member of the ICC.)

    Building codes cover electrical, plumbing, mechanical, fire protection, structural, elevator, and existing building requirements.

    These codes have a provision that a landlord shall not rent any property that does not meet the building requirements.

    If you need repairs to your apartment, please call us for advice.

    We have been advising tenants with repair problems for twenty-five years. Before taking any action, you should get our experienced assistance.

    DO NOT TAKE ACTION ON YOUR OWN!
    If you do not follow proper procedures, your landlord can evict you for failure to pay the full rent.

    We can help you with those procedures. Before exercising your rights, you should get our experienced assistance. (773) 478-1133

    Success Stories: Sherry, a young single woman living alone in a first floor apartment, came to the ITU with numerous maintenance problems, which her management company refused to address. She was particularly concerned about the bedroom windows, which opened directly onto an alley, which also were not weather tight, did not close properly, and did not lock at all, a major security issue. The ITU inspected her apartment and discovered dozens of Building Code violations. With our assistance, Sherry began paying a legally reduced rent reflecting the reduced value of the apartment. Sherry's landlord made a few repairs, but did not address her main security concerns. Instead, he sued her in an attempt to evict her, claiming Sherry owed rent because she was paying the legally reduced rent. The ITU provided her with a free attorney, who assisted her in defeating the landlord in court. The Court ruled that the landlord had acted in an illegal, retaliatory fashion by suing to evict Sherry. The Court also ordered the landlord to finish the needed repairs, which he did. Sherry also got brand new, secure windows throughout her apartment! Jerry, an attorney, and his family moved to Chicago. Being fairly well-off, but not knowing how long they would be staying in town, they rented an expensive, three story single family house in Lincoln Park. The house had a whopping 6,500 square feet; the rent being charged was a nearly unbelievable $7,000 per month! At that rent, most people would assume that this house would be a palace. However, Jerry experienced one maintenance problem after another. The water pressure was low, and the forced air furnace was extremely loud and was unable to heat the entire house. ITU inspected Jerry's house and discovered over 100 Building Code violations. With our assistance, Jerry was able to legally pay reduced rent. ITU was reminded by Jerry's case that any property can be poorly maintained by a bad landlord -- even a house with a $7,000 rent!

  • "Mock Beggar Hall" / .wmv (403k) / .rm (1.16mb)
  • "Rent Strike Blues" / .wmv (1.13mb) / .rm (3.38mb)

  • Although there was a baby boom after World War II, many landlords refused to allow children in their buildings.

    Illinois Eviction Success Stories: Ethel, her husband, her mother, and her two children had been living quietly in a small building paying rent to the owner. Then, the owner sold the building and the first words out of the mouth of the new owner to Ethel were: "Get out of my building." The new owner refused to accept any future rent payments from Ethel. He served her with an eviction notice and then filed a lawsuit to evict her. Ethel came to the ITU for help and ITU handed the case over to an attorney who specializes in representing tenants in eviction court. Ethel won in court! The landlord served her with a second eviction notice. This time he had the Chicago Police serve the notice and threatened to have Ethel arrested if she did not accept the notice. The landlord filed a second lawsuit. This time Ethel's attorney filed counterclaims amounting to eight months' rent plus attorney's fees against the landlord for various violations of the law. The second lawsuit ended with a negotiated settlement. Ethel agreed to drop her counterclaims against the landlord. The landlord dropped all his claims against Ethel for rent. Ethel agreed to move out, after not having paid rent in 9 months! The granddaddy of them all is a case which went on for 5 years! A multi-millionaire landlord filed a lawsuit to evict John because John began paying reduced rent. The landlord had failed to make $3,000,000 of required repairs to the high-rise building. The landlord admitted this failure to the judge in Housing Court. The landlord spent $65,000 on lawyers' fees trying to evict John, but the tenant's lawyer won the case and kept him in the apartment.

    If you have any questions or would like more information, or to discuss your rights please contact us (773) 478-1133

    "No House" by Sunny Bea, Rob Rosenthal

  • "No House" / .wmv (642k) / .rm (1.85mb)

  • During the 1970s, thousands of tenant lost their housing due to the gentrification of low and moderate income neighborhoods.

    Our motto is: "Tenants' rights before property rights."

    We are an organization which advocates for residential renters.

    Chicago Tenant Rights - We serve those who rent in apartment buildings, condos, or houses in the City of Chicago, Cook County, or elsewhere in the suburban metropolitan area.

    An eviction is the forcible removal of the tenant from her/his home by the Cook County sheriff with a court order signed by a judge after a trial.

    Before you can be evicted, the landlord must do two things:

    1. SERVE YOU A TERMINATION OF TENANCY NOTICE There are four different kinds of notices: 5 days' notice: this notice is for the nonpayment of rent 10 days' notice: this notice is for conduct by you in violation of the terms of the lease 30 days' notice: this notice is given if you do not have a written lease Letter of non-renewal of written lease: in some cases, 30 days before the end of the term of the lease

    2. SUE YOU IN A COURT OF LAW FOR EVICTION There are two different ways that you can be informed of a lawsuit to evict you: Personal service by the sheriff upon you of court papers Service of court papers by regular mail from the sheriff If you have received court papers but cannot move right away, you need to phone us for help (773) 478-1133.

    "You Can't Just Take Our Homes Away" by Karrie Potter

  • "You Can't Just Take Our Homes Away" / .wmv (508k) / .rm (1.48mb)

  • In the 1950s and 1960s, under a federal program called Urban Renewal, cities tore down many buildings in poor areas and failed to build adequate affordable housing so low income renters were suffering.

    Our motto is: "Tenants' rights before property rights."

    We are an organization which advocates for residential renters.

    Chicago Tenant Rights - We serve those who rent in apartment buildings, condos, or houses in the City of Chicago, Cook County, or elsewhere in the suburban metropolitan area.

    Whether the tenant has a problem with a landlord who does not make repairs or has been served a summons to go to court, tenants need to know their legal rights.

    Residents of Chicago and Evanston are governed by a Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance (RLTO) and residents of Mount Prospect by the Residential Landlord and Tenant Regulations. Tenants living anywhere else are governed only by state law. You do not need to be a lawyer to read the law, but you do need someone experienced to help you exercise your rights under the law.

    Besides advice, we provide four services to tenants: break lease security deposit repairs eviction

    Full time professionally trained staff assist tenants when they call. Our executive director is a licensed Illinois attorney and has been serving tenants since 1980.

    Please call us for a personal consultation at (773) 478-1133.

    "The Faucets are Dripping" by Malvina Reynolds, Eric Darling

  • "The Faucets Are Dripping" / .wmv (917k) / .rm (2.67mb)
  • "Pity the Downtrodden Landlord" / .wmv (685k) / .rm (1.98mb)
  • "Landlord" / .wmv (904k) / .rm (2.60mb)

  • During the Depression in the 1930s, the poet Langston Hughes wrote of tenant problems in Harlem in New York City.

    Illinois Eviction Success Stories: Ethel, her husband, her mother, and her two children had been living quietly in a small building paying rent to the owner. Then, the owner sold the building and the first words out of the mouth of the new owner to Ethel were: "Get out of my building." The new owner refused to accept any future rent payments from Ethel. He served her with an eviction notice and then filed a lawsuit to evict her. Ethel came to the ITU for help and ITU handed the case over to an attorney who specializes in representing tenants in eviction court. Ethel won in court! The landlord served her with a second eviction notice. This time he had the Chicago Police serve the notice and threatened to have Ethel arrested if she did not accept the notice. The landlord filed a second lawsuit. This time Ethel's attorney filed counterclaims amounting to eight months' rent plus attorney's fees against the landlord for various violations of the law. The second lawsuit ended with a negotiated settlement. Ethel agreed to drop her counterclaims against the landlord. The landlord dropped all his claims against Ethel for rent. Ethel agreed to move out, after not having paid rent in 9 months! The granddaddy of them all is a case which went on for 5 years! A multi-millionaire landlord filed a lawsuit to evict John because John began paying reduced rent. The landlord had failed to make $3,000,000 of required repairs to the high-rise building. The landlord admitted this failure to the judge in Housing Court. The landlord spent $65,000 on lawyers' fees trying to evict John, but the tenant's lawyer won the case and kept him in the apartment.

    If you have any questions or would like more information, or to discuss your rights please contact us (773) 478-1133

    "Ballad of the Landlord" by Ray Kamalay

  • "Ballad of the Landlord" / .wmv (861k) / .rm (1.66mb)

  • During economic hard times, like now, landlords evict lots of tenants: 30,000 in Chicago in one year.

    Additional helpful information for Illinois Tenants:

    An eviction is the forcible removal of the tenant from her/his home by the Cook County sheriff with a court order signed by a judge after a trial.

    Before you can be evicted, the landlord must do two things:

    1. SERVE YOU A TERMINATION OF TENANCY NOTICE There are four different kinds of notices: 5 days' notice: this notice is for the nonpayment of rent 10 days' notice: this notice is for conduct by you in violation of the terms of the lease 30 days' notice: this notice is given if you do not have a written lease Letter of non-renewal of written lease: in some cases, 30 days before the end of the term of the lease

    2. SUE YOU IN A COURT OF LAW FOR EVICTION There are two different ways that you can be informed of a lawsuit to evict you: Personal service by the sheriff upon you of court papers Service of court papers by regular mail from the sheriff

    If you have received court papers but cannot move right away, you need to phone us for help (773) 478-1133

    "Moving Day" by John O'Connor, Deb Hunemuller

  • "Moving Day" / .wmv (572k) / .rm (1.66mb)
  • "We're Gonna Stay" / .wmv (1.03mb) / .rm (2.05mb)
  • 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.


    Home | Resources | About Us | Contact Us | Newsletter | Tenant News | Break Lease | Eviction | Security Deposit | Repair | FAQ

     

    Copyright © 2007 Illinois Tenants Union. Illinois Web Design by AppNet.com