I received a comment from my father on last week’s post about apartment hunting for frail tenants asking, “What options does a tenant have if she or he becomes ‘frail’ or otherwise incapacitated during a lease?” On the surface the answer is simple: break the lease as you would in any other situation where you need to leave quickly. But in this scenario there is an underlying problem. In most cases the tenants who break a lease do so of their own volition or out of willing acceptance of necessity. They know that they will probably have to pay a fee or do some work to replace themselves, but it’s a speed bump rather than a stop sign.
But what if the tenant doesn’t want to leave? What if they are, as suggested by my father, frail or incapacitated but unwilling to accept this about themselves? In that case the lease break fees and sublease requirements become less of a hurdle and more of an excuse to remain in an unhealthy situation. It falls to the family or friends of the renter to persuade them that it’s time to go. Continue reading How to Persuade Someone to Move
At the time when this article goes live, Hurricane Florence will be smacking the Carolinas around. A lot of news coverage this week has focused on evacuating the coastal areas in preparation for the coming storm. Events like this tend to nudge our thoughts towards our own disaster plans even if we live very far from the epicenter. Residents of Chicago should certainly always have a plan for getting out of their buildings in the case of localized disasters like fires. But as I watched the Florence coverage this week I started to wonder if there would ever be a scenario where I would have to get out of Chicago quickly in anticipation of a major catastrophe.
As a developer, scope creep is something that’s always lurking in the back of my mind. That’s the tech term used to describe a project that keeps growing out of control due to small requests from clients or creative bursts. I do like to have plans in place for responding to catastrophes. But I don’t want my emergency plans to be so extensive that I wind up spending money or stressing out over disasters that will never actually happen. Continue reading Would Chicagoans Ever Have to Evacuate the City?
We want to start this off by saying that this is not a voter’s guide. We had planned to do a voter’s guide. In the previous articles in this series we said we would do one. Upon examination of the ballot we’ve decided that there are just too many races for us to cover in a single article. So while we will mention a few individual candidates here we will not be giving endorsements. (Since we’re a business we really shouldn’t be giving endorsements anyhow.) Rather, we will be looking at some of the main issues at stake in the March 2018 Chicago primaries and things that renters should consider as they review the candidates.
Rent Control (100/HB 2430)
State Representative Will Guzzardi’s campaign to repeal the statewide ban on rent control has been in process for two years now. Some of our regular readers may in fact be surprised that we have not yet done a full article on the issue here in the blog. We have, however, addressed it in our monthly newsletter way back in March of 2016. It is our belief that while rent control is a great concept in theory and that it might work for other cities and towns within the state of Illinois, it will not work well for a city as segregated as Chicago. Rent control is a way for the government to cap rent increases in privately-owned rental housing. In an ideal world, tenants in a rent controlled apartment would be able to stay in one place for a long time without worrying about exorbitant rent increases. Landlords are, however, able to raise rents to match market rates again once the rent-controlled tenants move out. Continue reading March 2018 Primaries: The Issues for Renters
In preparation for the March 20, 2018 Illinois Primary we are running a series on voting and elections in Chicago. Last week we featured the Chicago Newcomers’ Guide to Elections. This week we will be reviewing the job descriptions for every position on the ballot, from the smallest to the largest. Of course, as is the RentConfident way, we will be explaining these roles from the viewpoint of how they affect the lives of renters and landlords. This means we won’t be talking much about highways, hospitals and steel mills here but we will be talking a lot about evictions and property taxes.
We should note that this the March election is a primary. The people you choose this month will not take office. In a primary, multiple candidates from the same party run against each other. The winners from each party in the primary will go up against the winners from the opposing parties in the November election.
However, there are two sections of the ballot that are not simply nominations. On the ballot for the Democratic Party is a spot for the Democratic State Central Committee members. This is an actual election. Additionally the five referenda appearing on the ballot are binding and will not appear again on the November ballot.
We’ll start with the Chicago-specific offices, then move on to the Cook County, the State, and finally the Federal offices.
Before we launch into the full list, we want to emphasize that there are three positions on the ballot that are of critical importance to landlords and tenants.
- The Cook County Sheriff is responsible for enforcing evictions.
- The Cook County Assessor is responsible for setting property tax rates, which in turn have a huge effect on rent rates.
- The Judicial 1st Sub-Circuit seat of Orville Hambright requires the close attention of every landlord and tenant on the voter rolls. Hambright retired in late 2017 after hearing the lion’s share of eviction cases at the 1st District courthouse in the Loop for a very, very long time. While many judges in the circuit court hear eviction cases, few have measured up to the enormous eviction caseload that went through Hambright’s courtroom. Whoever takes his seat will have enormous shoes to fill. Continue reading Job Descriptions for Elected Officials in Chicago, Cook County and Illinois
It’s March! In Chicago this means it’s election season. We’ve previously discussed the low level of civic activity among renters, and how the input of renters at the polls can affect the caliber of a neighborhood. We’ve also provided a list of all the laws that went into effect this year as evidence of what the incumbents have accomplished while in office. We also talked about how renters are under-represented in Chicago public office. Now it’s time to put all of that together, get your butts off the couch, and go vote.
While the standard November election day is still important, a lot of the Illinois official business actually occurs at our statewide Primary voting in March. This year (2018) the Primary election will occur on March 20, just a few weeks away. Since we have a lot of newcomers and folks who have recently moved reading this blog, we figured we’d spend this week reviewing the basics of voting in Chicago. Continue reading The Chicago Newcomers’ Guide to Elections