Residents of The Streeter in Chicago are entitled to partial rent refunds given the luxury apartment building and its managers have kept closed the majority of common areas and amenities in response to the coronavirus pandemic, a lawsuit claims.
According to the 13-page proposed class action, common areas and amenities at The Streeter, one of eight Chicago properties managed by defendants Strs Ohio IL Real Estate Investments, L.L.C. and Village Green Management Company, LLC, are considered part of a resident’s “dwelling unit.” The case claims the defendants have unjustly enriched themselves by keeping the majority of The Streeter’s common areas and amenities closed while continuing to collect full rent, an apparent violation of Chicago’s landlord-tenant ordinance.
“By closing the common areas to all Chicago properties, Village Green constructively forced all tenants to vacate their ‘dwelling units’ as defined by the Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance, Ill. Municipal Code. Chapter 5-12 (RLTO),” the complaint alleges.
All Chicago properties run by Village Green Management Company offer common area amenities such as 24-hour fitness centers, business centers, conference rooms, hot tubs and fire pits, media rooms, outdoor grilling and dining areas, sub decks, resort-style pools and spas, complimentary Starbucks coffee and tea bars, steam rooms and saunas, billiard tables, and indoor lobbies with seating and reading materials, the lawsuit says. Per the suit, every Village Green resident pays a premium in their lease for access to common area amenities.
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Village Green on March 13, 2020 closed “the majority” of common areas at its Chicago properties and suspended all resident events and classes, the complaint says. On June 26, 2020, the defendant re-opened “some but not all common areas” to limited capacities, and allowed access only to residents, excluding guests, trainers and other non-residents with permission, such as lessors and sub-lessors, the lawsuit states.
The plaintiff, who signed her lease with the defendants in January 2020, argues that Chicago’s RLTO entitles The Streeter residents to a refund of the portion of their rent for the amenities and common area closures. The RLTO defines a “dwelling unit” as “a structure or the part of a structure that is used as a home, resident or sleeping place by one or more persons who maintain a household, together with the common areas … and all housing services, privileges, furnishings and facilities supplied in connection with the use or occupancy thereof, including garage and parking facilities.”
“At no point has Village Green or any of its agents offered any rent discount, abatement, concession, or refund for the closure of common areas in any of its Chicago buildings, including at The Streeter,” the case alleges. “At all relevant times, Village Green has continued to collect full rent from its Chicago tenants, including those at The Streeter, as if all common area amenities remained open and available for use.”
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