Council Panel OKs Tenants Rights Bill 7-1

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES August 28, 1986
By Harry Golden Jr.

A City Council committee urged adoption of a strong tenant rights ordinance yesterday but hinted at minor concessions to landlords before it becomes law.

By a 7-1 vote, the Buildings Committee, headed by Ald. Fred Roti (1st), sent the proposed rules to today’s Council meeting with a promise to delay a showdown vote for one meeting to provide an opportunity for an llth-hour compromise.

Ald. David D. Orr (40th), sponsor of the measure, told the hearing he will keep talking with the Chicago

Board of Realtors about possible amendments that won’t weaken the proposal, yet “will guarantee no abuse by anyone.”

The principal point of contention is an Orr rule that would permit tenants to order repairs and deduct the cost from rent, in the case of defects that violate the building code. The landlords want to limit such repairs to defects that threaten health and safety.

Orr said outside tile hearing that he might accept a reasonable list of the kinds of defects that would trigger a repair-and-deduct remedy.

The ordinance, which would exempt owner-occupied buildings with four or fewer units, also would outlaw one-sided leases, let tenants break leases breached by landlords and forbid evictions in retaliation for tenant complaints.

Voting for the ordinance were Orr, four other allies of Mayor Washington and anti-administration Aldermen Bernard L, Stone (50th) and Roti. Roti said he was keeping a promise to get the long-pending bill out of committee, but he reserved an option to vote either way on the floor.

Anti-administration Aid. Thomas W. Cullerton (38th) dissented. He said in an interview: “This ordinance would impose too much of a burden on owners, it is too restrictive and it would adversely affect many of the people in my ward who own six-flats and eight-flats. I also think it’s a step toward rent control, which would create chaos.”
Roti said the Inspectional Services Department estimated that enforcement would cost an extra $300,000 to $500,000 a year.

But Orr said “There’s some controversy over that. If it works as we hope, it will ease the work of inspectors, because repairs will be made and they won’t have to make so many appearances in court. In the long run, it may not cost anything.”

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