Legal Question in Landlord & Tenant Law in Illinois

I am 50 years old and have been lving in a cooperative "Co-op" apartment for 10 years now. For a year now, I have owned a very nice mild mannered dog. I have never had any neighbor complaints or landlord problems during my tenancy. Last summer, a very young man moved into the unit below. Over last winter, this young man brought home a dog of his own. This started a nightmare with him and the Office Manager whom it seems to become more obvious that has personal ties with the new tenant. The youngster downstairs started leaving his dog , actually 5month puppy, home alone for extended periods of time (2 - 3 days). I became severely affected by this for having to hear the puppy screaming for help and attention day and night. There was absolutely no peace. Due to the extended time of neglect, the dog constantly urinated and defecated in his unit. The smell permeated the halls into my apartment. Obviously he had a terrible amount to clean each time he returned home. His solution, he bought a cage and continued to contain the puppy in its suffering. Needless-to-say, the crying became worse and so did the bodily need to relieve. Urine began to eat its way through his floors into my area of the assigned basement. I couldn't bear the crying anymore, or the waste that had gotten on some valuable coats hanging in my washing area. I recorded the dogs cries for help. I called the Humane Society. I couldn't believe they informed him that they were coming, which gave him a chance to clean up his act. He pretty much got away 'scott-free' with a slap on the wrist. But the abandonment and everything continued. I called the police. Nothing was done as they don't enforce animal laws without an assigned warden and referred me back to Humane Society. Here is where the Landlord comes in. Maintenance was sent and confirmed the urine eating through the floor but management would not help me with what damages to my property or even check the stability of the floors above my basement. Instead, they turned the problem around on me. They defended the neighbor explaining that he has to work and he was doing nothing wrong. Although other neighbors have heard the loud screaming, it is unfortunate they are too afraid to get involved. I was demanded to appear before "The Board" because of supposed complaints about me and my dog from this kid which I have never been informed of. I also recorded a conversation with the property manager when she attempted to lure and threaten me into this meeting. I did not attend. Eventually I was told the kid was gone for the entire summer. And nothing transpired during this time. So I accepted that perhaps things boiled over. He has now recently returned and with a revengeful spirit. The office sent ONE minor complaint from this young man regarding my dog having a water bowl outside and that he was possibly playing upstairs late one particular night. I have since received about 5, or more, copies of this same letter which the manager is trying to tab as "numerous complaints" and again, ordered me before "The Board." I did not attend for having to work, let alone no fool would be so stupid as to walk into such an ambush. Due to my absence, the manager has sent a letter stating that I didn't meet with their "DEMANDS" and I am ordered to pay $200.00 and/or face legal actions now. I refuse to pay this fee. It has absolutely nothing to do with my residency. By the way, the youngster brought yet a different puppy home upon his return, and the exact problem is starting over. I am fit to be tied. I cannot believe that for as long as I have been living here without any problems, this person has caused so much stress and emotional anguish with the help of the office manager. The only thing I can figure is - there is some personal connection. I need to know where I can acquire legal help to respond to this problem. I do not feel comfortable or safe trying to face or address it alone. I am under the impression that the manager may be attempting to move forward to take more severe action.

Asked on 11/29/09, 9:08 am

2 Answers from Attorneys

There are numerous issues regarding this case and a lot of factual information an attorney will need to research. A successful defense will depend on a more thorough analysis of this case than can be provided here. I strongly suggest you speak with an attorney. As a co-op resident you do realize that the board's decision must be adhered to if you fail to contest the matter. They have that right, including the right to levy fines for violations of the co-op rules, etc.

If you have any questions or need additional assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.

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Answered on 12/04/09, 1:15 pm

As Mr. Fine notes, there are multiple issues, and several facts that need to be provided but are not. In addition, a few things:

1. You make no mention of any co-op rules regarding pets; this alone seems rather unusual.

2. This is a co-op, and apparently you don't own it but have rented it for 10+ years. You should look at your lease! And even if your lease is only oral this is a battle your landlord should most likely be having with the management and board! Stay out of the middle! If your landlord doesn't then you may have a bigger problem.

3. Chicago and certain other communities have "landlord/tenant" ordinances. They may give you additional rights -- even Chicago's ordinance covers RENTED co-ops.

may have bypassed the most important player!!!!

Hope this helps.

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Answered on 12/05/09, 2:53 pm

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