The Village of Riverside filed litigation against the property owner of 25-39 Forest Avenue and 22-40 East Avenue last Wednesday, February 10, and was able to get before the court this Tuesday on an Emergency Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction, which was granted in part by the court. As part of the court’s order, the Village has been authorized to conduct a full inspection of 25-39 Forest Avenue and 22-40 East Avenue. The inspection was ordered by the judge to be carried out as soon as possible in the presence of village staff, including Code/Building Department Staff and the Fire Chief, as well as a representative from NICOR in order to verify compliance with village building and other codes concerning health, welfare and safety. This inspection will include the interior of all units in the subject property.
The court further ordered that any units at the subject property that are not in compliance with the Village building codes and other codes concerning health, welfare and safety shall be corrected immediately.
Yesterday, February 17, the village was able to inspect 28 of the existing 50 units. The remaining units could not be accessed because tenants were not home and the master key provided by building management did not work.
The Village will be back in court tomorrow for a status update, to seek further access to the remaining units, and to pursue continuing court oversight of getting health and safety issues addressed at this property.
The Village was informed that the heat outage that occurred earlier today was due to build-up of steam in the boiler room, which tripped an emergency shut-off. Repair personnel are on-site now installing a steam vent.
The Village has hesitated to declare the building uninhabitable because many of the tenants still in the building do not have alternative housing and have been reluctant to accept alternative housing when it has been offered to them.
Substantial village resources have been expended over the past week and a half addressing this outrageous failing on the part of the building's owner. Village staff, including Code/Building Department Personnel and the Fire Chief, have been in constant contact with a number of tenants and the company making the boiler repairs and replacement, as well as building management. The Village has taken every legal means available to it to respond aggressively on behalf of the affected tenants and will continue to pursue this matter by every legal means possible.
The Village shares the anger, outrage, and frustration not only of the affected tenants, but of the community as a whole regarding the current situation. Neglect of critical maintenance issues has been a pattern with this particular property owner for many years.
The Village has consistently used the courts and administrative adjudication process over the past eight years to challenge instances where this property owner has failed to address important code and life safety issues at various properties. The Village will continue to pursue its existing legal options wherever necessary, including in the current case, and to develop new options for addressing this and other non-code compliant properties to the maximum extent it is able as a non-home rule community. Rest assured that the Village remains firmly committed to continuing to press for responsible and ethical management practices by this building owner.