Pro Bono News

What To Do If You Are Stuck In A Bad Apartment (IL)

Thursday, October 10, 2019

What To Do If You Are Stuck In A Bad Apartment

"Whether it is the pitter patter of rodent feet against hardwood floors or mold wedged between bathroom tiles, tenants expect their landlords to fix such problems.

But throughout Illinois, some landlords fail to maintain their properties, which severely impacts the people living in these poor conditions.

In Chicago alone, there have been over 18,000 property complaints made to 311, a non-emergency call service, since December 2018 – and even more complaints fill the voicemails of suburban municipalities.

So what recourse do tenants have when their landlords are unresponsive?

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For Chicago renters, the answer is clearer-cut. The Residential Landlord-Tenant Ordinance (RLTO) allows tenants to withhold portions of their rent if they pay to fix issues their landlord fails to address.

Alisa Levin, a Chicago-based real estate attorney, warned that the RLTO is a “very specific procedure” and tenants tend to skip over its crucial steps. Under this ordinance, tenants must first provide their landlord with a letter saying that repairs should be made within 14 days of receiving the notice.

“This is a vital step that is hardly ever followed,” Levin said.

Based on Illinois law, it is best to send this letter through certified mail because it allows the tenant to know exactly when their landlord receives it.

If no repairs begin after the 14-day period, the RLTO allows Chicago tenants to hire a licensed and insured professional to complete the work.

Tenants must send their landlord a copy of the bill and can then withhold $500 or half of their rent – whichever is less – to make repairs.

Levin warned that a tenant should never withhold the full amount of rent because this violates the lease agreement and can put the tenant in legal jeopardy..."

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