Renters' Rights: Foreclosure Doesn't Mean “Get Out Now”

More renters than homeowners affected by foreclosure in Chicago

The housing crisis gripping millions of Americans nationwide appears to be hitting Chicago particularly hard.   And one group seems to be getting the brunt of the misery:  renters.

The current housing crisis is now affecting more renters than homeowners in the City of Chicago, according to a new report out by the Lawyers' Committee for Better Housing. 

A look at the report's numbers reveals one stunning statistic: an average of 125 apartment buildings per week went into foreclosure in 2009, displacing thousands upon thousands of tenants.

The report calls attention to the plight of renters who have not received much attention as compared to homeowners embroiled in foreclosure proceedings.

Target 5 profiled one such renter back in March of this year.  Pilsen's Eva Wiebel was being squeezed by a landlord for rent when in actuality he had already been foreclosed upon.  It's just one example of the hurdles facing Chicago tenants today. 

The LCBH report calls for greater tenant protection and highlights safeguards enacted last year by the Obama Administration, which are not well-known by the tenants. The most important protection: a renter has at least 90 days after foreclosure to stay in the unit.

In short: tenants cannot be kicked to the curb by the former landlord or by the new owner, according to the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act of 2009.

The Chicago City Council will also soon vote on greater protections for renters who do not get back their security deposits. The LCBH spokesperson says many tenants who should get their money do not, simply due to the confusing nature of foreclosure.

A proposed amendment to current city code would put the onus on banks to get security deposits back to renters as fast as possible.

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