Group’s study backs tenant rights

18 CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, Friday, July 27, 1984
By Susan Saiter

A tenants group lobbying anew for laws to protect Chicago renters released a study yesterday indicating that cities with strong tenant rights have not suffered deteriorating housing stock or higher rents.

The Coalition for the Tenant Bill of Rights also announced a petition drive to collect 10,000 signatures between Aug. 11 and 19 for passage of renter rights legislation in Chicago.

The legislation, a package of 10 ordinances, the most controversial of which allows tenants to deduct the cost of repairs from rent if landlords do not do the work, has been in the City Council Buildings Committee since April.

It is sponsored by Ald. David D. Orr (49th), who said, “Chicago is the most anti-tenant major city.” The coalition represents about 40 groups, including the Metropolitan Tenants Organization, the Chicago League of Women Voters, the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, and senior citizen and neighborhood tenant groups.

“We are here to serve notice to the opponents of the Tenant Bill of Rights that we are escalating our campaign” said MTO spokesman Ruth Shriman.

The report, commissioned by the coalition, said objections by real estate groups to stronger tenant legislation are unfounded.

It said stronger tenant rights have improved housing stock in 12 other major cities.

Among the cities studied were New York, Washington, Cleveland, Los Angeles and Evanston, which has had strong tenant-landlord laws since 1975.

The report said rents, did not increase, nor did investments in housing stock shrink, as real estate groups fear. “Several cities with strongest protections—Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston—actually gained new rental units,” the report said.

“Chicago lost the greatest absolute number—more than 72,000 units—despite the fact that it had the weakest protection for tenants,” it said.

But Ted Amdur of Shelter 2, an organization opposing the ordinance, called MTO “an un-American, nationally organized, socialistic tenants union with unreasonable demands.”

Shelter 2’s David Costello said the housing code should be revised instead.

Seymore H. Persky of Parliament Real Estate, said that although the ordinance says nothing about rent controls, it opens the way for them. He said he fears the law would inhibit investments.

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