There are many perks to renting your home (including less commitment and less debt), but it can come with some limitations and challenges, especially if you end up in a scenario with a less-than-ideal landlord. While renters’ rights can vary based on city and state, below are several tenants’ rights in the city of Chicago and general points to keep in mind for your greater comfort and protection.
Monthly rent is a fixed rate for the entire duration of your lease
Unless otherwise stated in your lease (and this is a rarity), a landlord cannot increase the cost of rent during the tenure of a lease. Conversely, unless it is stated in your lease, you are not locked in to a fixed or “rent controlled” rate beyond the conclusion of your lease, despite what neighbors or even your landlord may tell you verbally. It is a good idea to touch base with your landlord about three months prior to the close of your lease about the cost of rent for the following lease so that you are not blindsided by a rent raise should there be one.
Your landlord is responsible for all building maintenance
Under the Chicago Tenant Landlord Ordinance, your landlord is responsible for all building maintenance, inside and out. This covers a very wide range of provisions including: necessary security, snow removal, functioning heat and water (this one is huge and you take legal action should you go without heat or water for more than 24 hours), providing of smoke detectors, etc. Should an appliance break, it is your landlord’s responsibility to fix it. The same goes for leaking faucets or ceilings. Do not ever attempt to make these repairs yourself; doing so could lead to further damage that you may be held responsible for.
Notification of foreclosure is required by law
In short, a landlord must provide a tenant notice of property foreclosure within seven days of receiving a summons. It is important to note that this does not constitute an eviction notice and that the renter is still obligated to uphold their end of the lease for the duration of time it is viable. Failure to provide a foreclosure notice is cause for lease termination on the tenant’s part and the tenant may be entitled to significant monetary compensation for the inconvenience.
Landlords cannot enter your home without notice
You landlord is the property owner, but your home is still exactly that: your home. Some leases vary slightly, but by law, a landlord must provide 48 hours notice to the tenant when entering the building and that tenant has to confirm that this is acceptable. Excepting emergency situations, the landlord must have a purpose for entering the unit such as maintenance or prospective tenant viewings (which can only happen within sixty days from the close of the lease).
Unlawful evictions are illegal
Evictions must happen with a court order and must be on account of a violation of a term explicitly stated in your lease. Any of the following actions are considered in line with unlawful eviction and can warrant legal action on your part: blocking the entrance to the unit, interfering with utility services, removing appliances and fixtures, changing or removing locks, using force or violence to enter the unit, etc.