Renting in Chicago: 3 Laws You Should Know

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Renting in Chicago: 3 Laws You Should Know

Emily Gojko · Dec 4, 2009

When renting in Chicago, or any city for that matter, you should familiarize yourself with the local landlord tenant law. You should know your tenant rights. Here are some must know laws when living in Chicago under a residential lease agreement.

1. There Is No Rent Control in Chicago

Historically, Chicago used to have rent control, but that hasn’t been the case since the 1940’s and 1950’s. It is an issue that has continuously come up for consideration, especially in the late 1970’s through the 1980’s, but was never adopted. What this means for you when renting in Chicago is that there is no maximum amount that your landlord can raise your residential lease agreement when it comes up for renewal. That means there is no cap, and he can raise it as much as he wants.

If you plan on living in your apartment for more than one year, try to negotiate a 3-year or 5-year lease in which the rent is not raised, or only raised at a set percentage. Even if you do not sign a lengthier lease like this, you can still try to negotiate with your landlord to add a stipulation to the rental contract that when it comes time for renewal, your rent will not be raised by more than an agreed upon amount, or if he intends to raise the rent, he must provide you with 30 days prior notice.

2. When (Minor) Repairs Are Needed You Can Reduce Your Rent

When renting in Chicago, you are not allowed to withhold your rent in order to force your landlord to make repairs in your apartment. However, you are allowed to reduce your rental payment until such repairs are made. In order to do this legally, you must request in writing that your landlord make the repairs within 14 days. If the repairs are not made, you have the right to withhold a reasonable amount of rent until those repairs are made. You also have the option, if the landlord does not make the repairs by the 14th day, to have them made yourself. You can then deduct $500 or half of your rent, whichever is the higher amount from your rental payment. These are critical tenant rights to know because sometimes landlords can be lazy about making repairs. This puts the ball in your court.

3. When (Major) Repairs Are Needed You Can Terminate Your Lease

If your apartment has had major damage done, or requires a major repair, and your landlord does not seem to be making any moves towards correcting the issue, you may be able to get out of your lease agreement. In order to do this, as with the minor repairs, you must request that the landlord make the repairs in writing within 14 days. If within 14 days the repair is not made, you may terminate your lease. However, if you remain in the apartment for the next 30 days, and do not vacate, your notice is considered void, and you are still under your lease obligations.

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Emily Gojko: I am a writer, marketer, and manager with a strong background in real estate development and management. I am also a native New Yorker with an obsession for home design shows, so I have personal and professional experience making the most of small spaces, and dealing with good and bad living situations.

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