Chicago tenant being evicted because apartment building has no heat

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - A Chicago family is facing a nightmare situation after their basement flooded, their gas was shut off, and now their landlord wants to evict them.

The problem started a week ago when water started backing up in the basement of their building. Then on Christmas Eve, one of the tenants smelled gas and for safety reasons, People's Gas shut off the gas and heat.

But an underlying sewer issue is still not fixed, and a family living in the building has very little options.

“I'm trying to get some help. I need the water out of here so Peoples Gas will turn the gas back on and in the meantime, my landlord here has given me an eviction notice refusing to fix anything and giving me a week to get out,” said Catina Shears.

Shears is trying to keep her home warm with a propane heater, because the small electric ones she had been using kept tripping the circuit breakers and her son had to navigate the sewage flooded basement to reset them.

“I have to get on the chair and I have to jump, I have to swing myself on that washing machine and that dryer and I have to swing myself on that side because the circuit breakers all the way over there,” said son Kristen Shears.

The Landlord claimed he called 3-1-1 multiple times and kept getting the run around. But the Water Department, which came out after FOX 32 started asking questions, said there was no record of any complaints.

The landlord also said he had a plumber come out, but that he could not pump out the basement. So, he's asking the tenant to leave because the building has no heat.

“I already got the plumber here, and they said it's illegal to put sewer water out and he said even if we did, it's going to return back in because the sewer outside is clogged up,” landlord Danny Fryhat said.

But the Water Department checked the sewer, which was clear, and showed FOX 32 the grease trap outside the department, which was clogged. That’s an indication the backup was the landlord's problem to fix.

“My issue at this particular point is he prayed on whoever was going to rent this apartment, he took money from people knowing that he had a problem that was a big problem that he was not willing to invest in fixing,” Shears said.

A Water Department supervisor told the landlord what he needs to do, but this family is still dealing with a nightmare without much hope.

“I don't have the money to move me and my kids out, it's cold, I don't have anywhere for all of us to go,” Shears said.

The landlord told FOX 32 he planned to call a plumber again and try to get someone to the building right away to get the situation resolved.

But for Shears, it may be too late.

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