CHICAGO (CBS) — Remember the winter of 2010-11, and the Groundhog Day blizzard that dumped more than 21 inches of snow on Chicago? Rochelle McIntosh remembers it all too well.
“I was abused. I was abused,” she said.
CBS 2’s Mike Parker reports McIntosh came home to her West Side apartment that winter after major surgery, and found out she had no heat and no hot water.
“It was miserable. It really was. It affected my self-being as Rochelle McIntosh, as an intelligent human being,” she said.
It turned out her apartment building had gone into foreclosure, and was now owned by New York-based HSBC Bank.
She has sued she is now suing HSBC, claiming they ignored her complaints about no heat and no water, until the spring, when the city of Chicago levied hundreds of dollars in Housing Court fines against the bank.
“The mortgage foreclosure mess has gotten so many people jammed up, and is so impersonal,” McIntosh’s attorney, Edward Campbell, said. “Tenants, who are innocent parties, who have absolutely no fault of their own … they can just get railroaded.”
The Lawyers’ Committee For Better Housing said, between 2009 and 2011, almost 17,000 apartment buildings were hit by foreclosure in Chicago; one out of 10 tenants were affected.
“We found that more apartment building units are impacted by foreclosure than single-family and condominium units,” said Patricia Fron, the group’s building programs administrator.
The findings don’t surprise her, given all the calls she gets each day from renters in foreclosed apartment buildings.
The group’s legal director, Mark Swartz, said “I think that banks open themselves up to a lot of liability if they don’t maintain buildings, and treat tenants respectfully.”
Swartz pointed out, when a bank forecloses on an apartment building, it legally becomes the landlord.
HSBC Bank was not saying much about McIntosh’s allegations. In a statement, they said, “We are sympathetic to (the plaintiff’s) past situation. However we cannot comment on pending litigation.”
The Chicago City Council is considering an ordinance which would expand tenants’ rights after foreclosures. The council has yet to vote on the measure.