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Lakeview Tenants Question Eviction Notices For Renovations

CHICAGO (CBS) -- What happens when you move into an apartment and just days later you're told to move out.

Dozens of tenants in a Lakeview apartment complex are facing that problem and are fighting back.

CBS 2 Investigator Dorothy Tucker has learned the evictions may be illegal.

What is happening at 2900 North Mildred is being called unfair by housing advocates but they said it is not uncommon.

Stella Siharath moved into her studio apartment on August 1. On August 21 she got an eviction notice.

She said 30 of her neighbors who all live in the rear of the 2906-2908 North Mildred got the same notices.

In fact,  more than a dozen signed and sent this petition to building managers, Beal Properties, saying they weren't happy about it.

"I had just unpacked," said Siharath.

Another tenant, Lauren Prospect, had planned to live there for a year.

The lease from Beal that Prospect signed has a clause that said there needs to be "30 days written notice to early terminate by either party."

"I didn't think they were going to actually give me that 30 days written notice," said Prospect.

And they shouldn't have, according to Phillip Devon with the Metropolitan Tenants Association.

"Under the residential tenants rights ordinance, any early termination clause in a lease needs to give the landlord and the tenant equal termination powers," said Devon.

Here's what's unequal, according to Devon: paragraph 19 that said if tenants decide to break the lease they have to pay a $200 fee.

The landlord doesn't.

Tenants said the owners are renovating. A building permit was issued August 28. But CBS 2 found it was approved July 20 -- 20 days before Prospect moved in.

"They had to have known that they were going to be doing this soon," said Prospect.

"We receive hotline calls from similar situations all the time. The most common reason is landlords want to renovate and ultimately bring someone else in that will pay a higher rate," he added.

CBS 2 received this response from Beal Properties:

"Beal Properties owns and manages the building at 2900-14 N. Mildred Street. It is more than 100 years
old, and has not been renovated in decades.

After deciding to renovate the property, Beal Properties began offering tenants whose leases came up
for renewal the opportunity to remain in the building on a month-to-month basis. As the date when the renovation work was scheduled to begin grew closer, a group of tenants were
notified that they would have to move.

In a few unfortunate cases, tenants signed leases beginning August 1, but didn't move into the property
until later in the month. They then received a notice that the month-to-month lease would be
terminated and would require that the tenant move out at the end of September. In those cases, all fees
were refunded, and moving costs and other expenses were offered to the affected tenants.

Additional efforts have been made to find substitute housing to assist the tenants and we have been glad to
accommodate those tenants who have asked for additional time to help plan their moves. We are continuing to work with these and all of our tenants to make sure their transitions go smoothly.We have been working diligently on this for the last two weeks and will continue to be available to all
tenants who may be affected.

Our mistake was allowing tenants to move in so close to the date when the renovation work was going to start, and we have spent the past two weeks working to resolve these problems and getting this handful of tenants resettled. For this, we are truly sorry.

We are sorry for any inconvenience that this has caused and are working diligently to rectify our error.

As it relates to the lease termination, no one has been evicted from the building or received eviction
notices. We are giving our tenants courtesy notices that we are starting a major renovation of the
building and letting them know their month-to-month leases will end soon. The work being planned will
help turn an old building back into the beautiful building it once was.

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