Phoenix 101: Chicago’s worst landlords

Most of the landlords featured on the list have buildings in the South and West sides. Chart by City of Chicago // Data Portal

Mayor Rahm Emanuel released a list of Chicago’s worst landlords last week, in an effort to hold the city’s building owners accountable and provide better living conditions to tenants. The list doesn’t include any Roger’s Park landlords yet, but it does feature 59 different building owners and 45 properties, located in 26 neighborhoods across Chicago.

What qualifies someone as a bad landlord?

Building owners make it on the list for neglecting their tenants’ basic needs, according to the City of Chicago website. This could include anything from failing to install working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to not providing heat. All landlords on the list were found responsible in at least two administrative hearing cases – when hearing officers and judges investigate complaints tenants file against the building owners – and have at least three building violations. The list is expected to be updated twice a year.

Are there any consequences for the landlords on the list?

Being included on the list means  building owners will “not be able to obtain business licenses, receive zoning changes, acquire city land or receive financial assistance,” according to the City of Chicago website. Landlords will also only be able to apply for building permits – which allow them to begin construction on their buildings – that are related to their violations. Serious offenders, who have been found guilty in a hearing and have not made the necessary changes to their buildings, may be forced to give up their property.

What caused the list to be created?

The ordinance that granted the city permission to create this list was in honor of four children – Carliysia Clark, Carlvon Clark, Shamarion Coleman and Eri’ana Patton Smith – who died in an apartment fire in Roseland last September. An investigation of their apartment building revealed it hadn’t passed 20 inspections since 2006. Its June 2014 inspection (the inspection closest to the date of the fire) revealed many violations, including failing to install and maintain smoke detectors. Emanuel said the list sends a message to Chicago landlords: Either they obey the city’s building codes or they don’t do business anymore.

“Every renter in the city of Chicago is entitled to be safe and to have basic protections such as adequate heat in the winter,” said Emanuel in a press release regarding the list. “This list is an important part of our effort to improve living conditions for renters by holding landlords accountable who repeatedly fail to meet their responsibilities.”

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