Q. My partner and I tried to rent an apartment together on the northwest side of Chicago. When we went to see the apartment the landlord said the apartment was already rented. We believe that the landlord refused to rent to us because of our sexual orientation. What are our rights?
A. The Chicago Human Rights Ordinance prohibits discrimination based upon sexual orientation in the sale, rental and leasing of any housing accommodation within the City of Chicago. The ordinance prohibits any owner, lessee, managing agent and licensed real estate broker who has the right to sell, rent, lease or sublease any housing accommodation within the City of Chicago from:
* Making any distinction, discrimination or restriction against any person in the price, terms, conditions or privileges relating to the sale, rental, lease or occupancy of any real estate used for a residence because of the sexual orientation of the prospective or actual tenant or buyer of the property.
This means that the property owner can't charge LGBT people higher rent than heterosexuals or prohibit two people of the same sex from sharing an apartment when that owner allows two people of different sex to occupy the same size of apartment.
* Publishing any advertisement, notice or sign concerning the sale, rental or leasing of any residential property that indicates or expresses any discrimination because of the sexual orientation of the prospective buyer or renter of the property.
This means that the owner or rental agent can't place an ad in the newspaper indicating that LGBT persons are not welcome to apply or limiting rentals to couples who are married.
* Refusing to sell, lease or rent any residential real estate because of the sexual orientation of the proposed buyer or renter. This means that an owner of an apartment building can't refuse to rent an apartment to someone because they are LGBT.
If you believe that you have been discriminated against in the City of Chicago because of your sexual orientation, your remedy is to file a complaint with the Chicago Commission on Human Relations. Their address is 740 North Sedgwick, telephone number 312-744-4111. You can also file a complaint with the Cook County Commission on Human Rights at 69 West Washington, Suite 3040, Chicago, telephone 312-603-1100 and the Illinois Department of Human Rights, 100 West Randolph, Suite 10-100, Chicago.