City Council vote gives more power to condo owners who want to keep homes

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A trend of turning Chicago condos into rental units may slow down after a Wednesday vote by the City Council gives more power to condo owners who want to keep their homes.

Condo owners will need to persuade more of their neighbors to sell all the units in a building to a developer under an ordinance passed by the City Council Wednesday.

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Investors have been buying up condo buildings as rents have increased in Chicago, but not all condo owners want to sell. Gene Henricks endured an investor buyout and said owners need to be able to sell on their own terms.

"It was the most traumatic year of my life, not knowing where we were going to live," he said.

Hendricks and his spouse thought they found their forever home in east Edgewater. But in 2017, an investor approached the building's condo board with an offer to buy the building and deconvert it into rentals.

"They lure you in with the initial offer," Hendricks said. "When they tell you that this is the pie in the sky, it wasn't, because people don't really know the hidden side of condo deconversion."

"I felt that this is not right. I felt violated," he added.

The ordinance passed Wednesday increases the votes of ownership in a condo from 75 percent to 85 percent in favor of a bulk sale to developers. There are state bills that offer further owner protections.

"We still need a change in the state law that will not allow for a five to seven board member to list the building for market without consulting the people who live there," said Hendricks. "It's not right."

The possibility of condo deconversions in Chicago should serve as a reminder for all condo owners to be involved in their condo board meetings, where they have a voice. If you can't attend, make sure you are getting the minutes from management and make sure you are signed up for email alerts from your condo association.
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