A blind trust is a legal mechanism that allows property owners to conceal their identities. Public records bear only the name of a front person, who does not actually control the property. Blind trusts permit owners to buy and sell property without public scrutiny. They make it difficult for casually interested parties to make purchase offers on buildings and for tenants to know to whom to take their complaints. Although no Illinois statute deliberately established the legality of the blind trust, state courts have recognized its validity.
During the 1960s, the blind trust became a target of African American housing activists. A favorite tactic was to picket outside the homes and offices of people who owned poorly maintained apartment buildings and houses purchased “on contract.” The Contract Buyers' League (CBL) worked to help African Americans renegotiate the payment terms of the contracts on their homes. The use of blind trusts hindered efforts both to shame property owners and to negotiate with them. In 1969, the CBL pressured the Illinois legislature into requiring the identification of owners of residential property bought on contract.
“Comment: Some Aspects of Illinois Land Trusts.” De Paul Law Review (Autumn-Winter 1958): 385–393.
Conrad, Mary. “Trusts—Illinois Land Trusts—A Beneficial Interest Is a ‘General Intangible’ under U.C.C. Article 9.” De Paul Law Review 18 (1969): 875–885.
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