Tenant-rights bill softened

6 Monday. September 10, 1984

By Harry Golden Jr.

Ald. David D. Orr (49th) softened his tenant-rights bill today to exempt small, owner-occupied buildings and to spell out rights of landlords.

Orr announced the changes, clearly designed to broaden support, on the eve of hearings by the City Council Buildings Committee, headed by Ald. Fred B. Roti (1st).

Owner-occupied structures of four units or fewer were dropped from legislation that would allow apartment renters to repair defects and deduct costs from the rent.

Also, Orr added an eight-point section stating that renters must keep units in safe and clean condition and must dispose of garbage properly, and providing that landlords may recover damages and obtain court relief for violations.

Cites other laws

Orr acknowledged that renters’ responsibilities are also stated in various ordinances that already exist, but are little known.

Orr on April 9, revived his drive for a ‘tenants’ law, blocked during the Byrne administration.

Under the Orr plan, a tenant could correct a violation of health, building or safety codes in an amount up to $200, or half a month’s rent, if a landlord disregarded a formal complaint for 14 days.

At a City Hall news conference, Orr said real estate interests were trying to enlist small apartment owners in opposition.

For that reason, he said, he dropped “Ma-and-Pa” apartments and narrowed the focus of his ordinance to “bad absen¬tee landlords of the larger buildings where we have experienced the greatest problems.”

Orr said his ordinance is supported by Mayor Washington and some members of the City Council majority bloc, whom he did not identify.

Vows fair hearing

Roti commented that the ordinance will get a “fair hearing” at 10 a.m. tomorrow. But he said he opposes the measure in its present form.

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