In Chicago, there is a building code that has rules for the conditions in buildings. If a landlord does not keep their building up to code, the tenant can report the building to the city. This article explains that process.
Report the violation by phone or online
The first step is to call 311 or go online to report the violation. If you go online, choose "building violation" as the service type. If you call, you will speak with an agent who will connect you to the building department.
You may, if you choose, remain anonymous. However, the buildings department may wish to follow up with you to schedule an inspection. It might be easier if you give your name and daytime phone number.
You’ll receive a tracking number for your call. Save this number, as it will help you monitor progress on your complaint. If the agent doesn’t offer you a tracking number, you should ask for one.
The building department will send out a building inspector to your building. If they find violations, they may cite your landlord. The landlord will receive a notice. The landlord has 15 days from that day to address the problem. If not, there may be a court case against them. This could be a hearing in administrative court or a civil building court case.
The administrative hearings for the Buildings Division in Chicago happen at 400 W. Superior. A case can only be brought by the city. You can follow the case, and may be asked to participate in it. But you can't start it.
The hearing is meant to check that the landlord has fixed the issue. An administrative law officer is in charge of the hearing. The officer may order a re-inspection of the building before the hearing.
The hearing is recorded. The city may ask you to and other tenants to testify. Your landlord cannot evict you or raise your rent just for complaining or testifying in the case. If your landlord does attempt to do any of these things, Get legal help as soon as possible.
At the end of the hearing, the officer makes a decision. The owner may be fined. The officer can tell the owner to fix things, too.
The Housing Division of Civil Court is located at 50 W. Washington at the Daley Center. Building violation cases are heard in the odd numbered courtrooms on the 11th floor (courtrooms 1103-1111).
Unlike administrative hearings, it is not just the city that can bring a case against a building owner. Any building owner or tenant can start a lawsuit in civil court if they are being affected by the building violation. A copy of the complaint must be sent to the city.
In civil court, a judge is in charge of the hearing. The judge can impose fines on the building owner and force the building owner to stop a violation or fix a problem.
After the judge makes a decision, either side may appeal the decision to the Illinois appellate court. Learn more about appealing a civil case.
Filing a lawsuit is very difficult and there are many rules you must follow. You should Get legal help if you are considering filing a case in the Housing Division of civil court.
Updated: February 2018