CHICAGO (STMW) — A Cabrini-Green resident accused of harboring drug dealers cannot be evicted from her home because an official forgot to check a box on her lease agreement, a Cook County judge has ruled.

Attorneys for mother of two Roberta Rendle say her successful fight against eviction could have consequences for thousands of Chicago Housing Authority residents kicked out of their homes for violating the “good-conduct” sections of their leases.

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But CHA insists Rendle’s case is an isolated clerical mistake that will not affect its efforts to keep drug dealers out of the projects.

Rendle, who lived at the last tower block to be inhabited at Cabrini-Green at 1230 N. Burling St., was targeted for eviction last year following the October 2009 drug arrests of a 19-year-old woman and a 24-year-old man inside her 10th-floor apartment, according to court records.

She argued Jermaine Purdis and Cayla Delaney were fleeing police when they ran through her unlocked, wide-open front door while she was visiting a friend in another apartment.

Within days Purdis pleaded guilty to trespass, while Delaney pleaded guilty to misdemeanor cannabis possession, records show.

But CHA officials continued to doubt Rendle’s account. They tried to evict her under the good-conduct section of the CHA lease, which bans residents and guests from “engaging in any drug-related criminal activity.”

Rendle countered that she had never been made aware of the good-conduct requirements — and that CHA officials had failed to check a box on her lease confirming they had explained the rules to her.

Ruling in favor of Rendle, Associate Judge Leonard Murray wrote that CHA’s “failure to pay attention to certain details in the formation of Roberta’s lease” meant that the good-conduct section did not apply to her.

CHA spokesman Matt Aguilar said the case was “an isolated incident brought on by an unfortunate clerical error,” adding that Rendle will in the future have to abide by the good-conduct rules at her new CHA home in the Wentworth Gardens projects. CHA’s attorney Robert Kahn also said he had never seen a similar problem.

But Rendle insists many of her neighbors “were treated the same way, without getting a copy of the rules when they sign their lease.”

Describing the good-conduct rules as “amounting to a set of neo-plantation chains” because they place an unreasonable burden on tenants to oversee people they may have no control of, her attorney, Ed Voci, added, “It remains to be seen how widespread the problem is.”

–Chicago Sun-Times, via the Sun-Times Media Wire

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