CHICAGO (CBS) — Several buildings across Chicago were without heat during this week’s record cold snap, including high and low rent properties.
Typically the city takes landlords who aren’t providing adequate heat to court, but with courts shut down the past couple of days and some buildings identified as high risk, they’re bypassing that step and assigning workers to make repairs and planning to hit the landlords with a bill.
Ricardo Bermudez bundles up to go inside his home of five years at Medical Center Apartments.
“It’s freezing,” he said. “It’s a big problem. I myself have to turn on the stove and the oven to make up and it’s still not warm enough. A lot of us choose to live here because of the proximity to our work.”
With 324 units without heat it’s the largest of the seven Chicago properties the department of buildings inspected and identified as immediate health and safety risks.
It’s risk enough to bypass waiting on court — which has been closed the past two days — or a landlord’s willingness to make a fix.
The department is assigning workers to asses heat system problems and make necessary repairs to bring buildings to code.
“That’s excellent news,” Bermudez said. “Not only for me but for all the families with little children and seniors that live here.”
From Sept. 15 through June 1 the Chicago Heat Ordinance requires a rental residence to be at 68 degrees during the day and 66 degrees at night.
Otherwise landlords can be fined up to $500 a day.
A spokesperson for the department of buildings said some landlords just weren’t being cooperative or weren’t capable of having the proper repairs made.
It’s not clear which was the case at Medical Center Apartments because when CBS 2’s Tara Molina went there to get answers, she was escorted off the property.
The lights were on in the front office, but building management did not reply to a CBS 2 email.
Several other cases involving landlords found to be breaking the ordinance will be brought to circuit court tomorrow.