Chicago Property - Building Code Violations

6 Replies

Hello BPers,

I have question regarding a property we are looking at and need help as to how to navigate through this issue. The property has been vacant for a while. The sellers had some building violations regarding maintenance (they had to clean it up and make it safe for the community). Basically, maintain it up to a certain level required by Cook county for vacant properties. Well, they failed to do that multiple times and the city fined them. When they were not paying the fines the city of Chicago issued a notice that they were going to take over the property and demolish the building. I believe at that point the sellers went to court and paid the fines, but they don't know the current status of the property: is the city going through with the demolition and/or does the city actually own the property? I pulled up the record of deed and the sellers' names are still on the deed.

I also pulled up the Building Violations records online for the particular property and below are the inspection/violation dates. As you can see they are "closed" and the sellers have not heard from the city about any other incident.


What we want to make sure is that there are no other incidents pending and that the city of Chicago doesn't own the property and are not planning on going through with the demolition. I have heard that Chicago is slow to get through building processes like permits and violations. So, could there be a pending incident that has not made it to the Building Violation records online? Also, does anyone out there know who we could contact from the city of Chicago that would have information regarding the status of the demolition and/or updates of ownership? Any insight would greatly help us out. We just want to get more information on these incidents and make sure it's a good deal before we tie up this property.

Hey friend! I don't know the answer to your question personally, but I just thought I'd give you a bump so others can notice your question.

Best of luck!

When you go to close, I assume you will use a title company. They should be able to make sure you have clear title and the orders are removed. You can also call cook County and ask them if there is anything on the house. I would assume that there is a phone number on those orders.

The seller will have to disclose if there are any open court cases and more so your attorney should be able to pull up in the system any active cases on that property or against that ownership entity. The city never actually takes over your property in demo court but if you don't show up for court or hearings the city has a fast track way to get the right to tear down the building. Once they tear down the building they slap a lien for the inflated cost of the demo on the remaining lot which will be recorded and would which would come up on title.

If case is closed you don't have to deal with it but if it is open you can take possession and take over the case in which the judge gives a new buyer time to make it right but they order an interior inspection which leads to having to get drawings and permits if the work needed requires it.

Run the title for title insurance. That will tell you if its free & clear or not and what you have to take care of.


Before you commit, you should always run title but here are a couple of free sites that you can use anytime




Thanks for the bump @Jaren Barnes !

@Lee Smith & @Shara Carlton , what I would like to do is get some of those details before I sign the contract with the seller and have the title company pull title. Can you request the title company to pull title for a property you have not purchased? I've never actually done that.

Thank you @Mark Ainley ! That was very helpful. I spoke with sellers and they are confused as the status of the property. They said they went to court and had an extension for a second court date in which they paid a fine. That is as far as they know. They are unsure as to whether the city is still continuing with the demolition (they haven't heard anything or received any notice since Dec 2013, when they paid the fine). I'm assuming that the case is closed and done with after the paid fine, but I would like to make sure because the sellers don;t even know.

@Ray Wicker , thanks for the very helpful links. I will look into them. I did check the property for liens and who's on the deed. I also went to the treasurers website for taxes and the building violations website. I would like to speak with someone from the city that could look at the property's actual citations/records and tell me that it's not pending a demolition and the citations/cases are all closed. With the sellers confused and the fear of looking at outdated records (I've heard that Cook county is a little slow at updating their records websites, especially the building code violations one) makes me want to confirm and not just commit to the purchase.

I will keep digging. Thank you everyone for all the help!!

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