“As the judge pronounced the sentence, which court officials said represented the first time in their memory that a landlord has been ordered jailed on housing code violation charges, a cheer went up from more than 50 Clifton Terrace tenants in the room.
Brown, who is yet to be tried for another 1200 violations at Clifton Terrace cited by housing inspectors, was visibly stunned by the sentence.
As he was led away to the court's basement cellblock, the landlord, his hands visibly shaking, did not appear to be the defendant who moments before had told the Judge from the witness box that the District government was responsible for the lack of heat at Clifton Terrace.
After remaining in the cell block for about 45 minutes, Brown's attorney, George E. C. Hayes, filed notice of appeal in the case and the landlord was released after posting $2000 bond.”
- Carl Bernstein, “Landlord Given Jail Term,” Washington Post, 1967.
On Monday we started a series on the history of the Chicago Residential Landlord-Tenant Ordinance. We covered an enormous span of time from medieval England to the early civil rights movement in the United States of the 1960s. We were introduced to the many issues that faced renters in the early 20th century and the methods used by the first tenants' rights pioneers to try and fight back.
When we left off, it was 1963 and Jesse Gray's rent strikes in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City were getting attention through violence, the civil rights act was up for debate in US Congress, and Chicago had just passed its first fair housing ordinance.
Over the next decade, the battle for tenants' rights would be joined on three fronts – in the White House, the courts and the streets. Continue reading The Three-Front War for URLTA (1964-1972) A History of Renters' Rights in Chicago, Part II
On Monday we will be posting the first installment in a four-part series. It was actually supposed to start today, but it isn't quite ready yet. This is the first time since we started this blog that we've actually missed a print deadline, so I wanted to give you guys a thorough reckoning as to why there's no article today.
The series that will start on Monday was first conceived in November of 2015. It's been on our publishing docket every month since then, but it has taken us until very recently - two days ago, in fact - to combine the correct research and the correct format to figure out exactly how the story should be told.
Version 1: Dry and Dull.
Most of the latest developments in tenant rights come out of the court system. Last fall I was trying to figure out what sort of events led to the creation of the Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance (CRLTO) - that's the official Chicago body of law governing the rights of apartment renters. It's a big, complicated mass of laws and I was curious to find out what exactly brought about some of its more particular sections. This is good stuff to know about when you work in tenant education. Continue reading Behind the Blog (or, the article explaining why there’s no article today)
A few months ago Jon posted some Fractured Fables, using renters and apartments in place of the classic animals from Aesop's Fables. Today we've got another one for you, this time a joint offering from both of the RentConfident owners, based on the fairy tale “Hansel and Gretel.”
Editor's Note: This story may cause issues for survivors of sexual assault. Unfortunately, it finds its roots in events that have occurred in real life, and therefore we feel it is a necessary article.
The Tale of Hannah and Gretchen
Hannah and Gretchen worked hard to afford a small apartment in the big city. Although the appliances were old and the floors were worn, they lived there together for many happy years and made the space their own.
Their landlady lived in a comfortable house nearby with her husband, a chubby little man with devious eyes. One day after going through the mail he turned to his wife.
“You know,” he said, “those two girls who live in our apartment have a lease which expires next month.”
“They're good tenants,” said the landlady. “They're quiet, friendly and pay on time. What are you implying?”
“Of course they are,” he replied, “but they're getting too good of a deal. Property taxes are going up. Water bills are going up. The kids' tuition is going up. If we removed the girls and renovated that apartment we could get a lot more rent for it.”
So it was with a heavy heart that the landlady gave Hannah and Gretchen 30 days notice to move out of their little apartment and turned them loose into the big city. Continue reading Fractured Fables for the Modern Renter: The Tale of Hannah and Gretchen
This week I did a little experiment with the Google search bar. I typed in the beginning of a question about apartments or landlords and let Google fill in the rest with what people across the country (world, universe?) were asking. The questions seemed ridiculous at first. I laughed a lot until I tried my best to answer them. Then they got slightly less ridiculous. This is the result of that little experiment.
Why does my apartment smell like cigarette smoke?
Smoke gets in through the same gaps that allow air into your apartment. No living space can or should be fully sealed, or you would suffocate. Cigarette smoke could be getting into your apartment through drafts, heating ducts and pipes, a slightly open window, a loose doorsweep, or just because hot smoke naturally rises. Continue reading Seven Common Questions that Renters Ask of Google (with Answers)
Some St. Patrick's Day parties start early in the day. Sometimes they last all night too. Sometimes all the corned beef and cabbage in the world can't stop some bad things from happening to your apartment and areas in your apartment building. If you want to make amends or request repairs but aren't feeling so well today, don't worry. Just use this handy fill-in-the-blank form and you'll be well on your way to atonement.
Note for the truly hungover: We do not condone actually submitting or printing this form for use with your real landlord.
Tenant-Landlord Form 317: St. Patrick's Day Apology
My name is . I live at .
Regarding yesterday's events, I would like to apologize for my lack of respectful behavior towards this property and the people living in it. The following checklist contains the details of my apology.
I apologize for... Continue reading [Humor] Crazy party? Wrecked your apartment? No worries! We’ve got a form for that.