FANDOM


MOVING IN

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD AND PRINT YOUR MOVE-IN CHECKLIST

MTO’s Move-In Checklist:

  • Check out the neighborhood. Take a tour of the area at night time before signing your lease. Will you feel comfortable coming home at night and living there?
  • Schedule an appointment to walk through the apartment with the landlord. Make sure you see the unit you will actually rent!
  • Walk-through the apartment with the landlord and note, in writing, all issues or repairs that need to be addressed before move-in. Have the landlord sign off on the document .
  • Read and understand your lease before you sign it! If you don’t understand a portion of your lease, ASK and CLARIFY any unclear statements prior to signing. Ask for a copy of the lease.

Make sure your landlord has provided you with the following:

When you sign your lease, make sure to:

  • Get receipt for your Rent and Security Deposit : Does the receipt state what will happen to your security deposit if you do not take the unit? 
  • Scan and make a copy of your lease; every page, both sides! Save a copy of the lease in a safe place and email a copy to yourself for safe keeping.
  • Protect your deposit (Take Pictures!) Photograph every room; get multiple angles! Capture hallways, closets, appliances & outdoor spaces and upload them to your Squared Away account.

​If you pay for utilities, call utility companies to transfer bill to your new address:

Transfer or register  your electric service or call Comed at 800-334-7661

Transfer or register  your gas service or call People's Gas at 866-556-6001

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

Can a landlord refuse to rent an apartment to me just because I have children?

No, this is discrimination. If a landlord does this, call MTO immediately at 773-292-4988.

Is it illegal for a landlord to discriminate against me?

Yes, but only if your landlord is discriminating against you on the basis of your: Sex, Race, Religion, Nationality, Mental or physical disability, Parental or Marital Status, Age (if you’re at least 40 years old), Military Discharge Status, Sexual Orientation, Source of Income, Status as a CHA resident past or present, Participation in Section 8 program.

Can the landlord tell me how many people can live in my apartment?

The landlord can request that all household members be on the lease and give permission for the tenants to be on the lease. The landlord cannot limit the number of children, they can only insist that you comply with local law, which provides that tenants cannot live in apartments (or sleep in bedrooms) that are too small for the number of people who live there. For instance in Chicago: Two tenants cannot live in an apartment that has less that 250 square feet of floor area, three tenants cannot live in an apartment that has less than 350 square feet of floor area, and so on. As long as you are following local laws, the landlord cannot tell you which rooms your family can use as sleeping areas. They cannot discriminate for marital status or sexual orientation, please see below.

What if the landlord will not let me move in?

You have two choices:

If you no longer want the apartment, you can send the landlord a letter stating that you are canceling the lease because the landlord refused to let you move in. Keep a copy of your letter. If your landlord does not return your security deposit and prepaid rent, you can sue the landlord.

If you still want the apartment, you can send the landlord a letter stating that you want to move in. Keep a copy of your letter. If the landlord does not let you move in, you can sue the landlord and ask the court to order the landlord to let you move in. You can also recover whatever money you had to spend on temporary housing while waiting to move in.

LEASES

What to Know About Leases:


  • Every tenant has a lease. It may be a written lease or an oral (unwritten) lease.
  • Before you sign a lease, do your research! Explore the neighborhood, view as many units as possible and talk to other tenants.
  • When you sign a lease, make copies, then print a copy and email a copy to yourself for safe keeping.

What is the advantage of a written lease agreement?

It sets out the terms of your agreement with the landlord. Furthermore, it states how long your tenancy will last, and your landlord cannot terminate this tenancy early unless you violate one of the lease provisions.

If I do not have a written lease, when can my tenancy be terminated?

Either you or your landlord can terminate it with at least one month advance written notice (if you pay rent every month), or at least 7 days advance written notice (if you pay rent every week). Neither of you has to give reason for terminating the tenancy.

If I have a written lease, can my landlord raise my rent before the lease ends?

Only if the lease states that the landlord can do this. Otherwise, your rent must remain the same until the lease ends.

If I do not have a written lease, when can my landlord raise the rent?

Your landlord can raise the rent only after giving you advance written notice. If you pay rent on a monthly basis, you must receive at least one month written notice. If you pay rent on a weekly basis, you must receive at least 7 days written notice.

What if I have a written lease that has provisions that I don’t like?

Don’t sign it. Once you sign the lease you are bound by all its provisions unless these provisions are against the law. (Illegal provisions are listed below). If you don’t like a provision, ask your landlord to cross it out. If he/she agrees to do this, both of you should put your initials next to the provision that has been crossed out.

What lease provisions are against the law? Any provision stating that you agree to:


  • Give up any of your rights under Chicago’s Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance;
  • Limit your landlord’s liability for breaking the law;
  • Let your landlord win an eviction action against you without first serving you with a termination notice and a summons to appear in court;
  • Give up your right to a jury trial if your landlord files an eviction action against you;
  • Pay for your landlord’s attorney’s fees if he/she files an eviction against you;
  • Pay a late fee in excess of the amount allowed by the Ordinance (see below); or
  • Receive a discount that is equal to more than the monthly fee allowed by the Ordinance if you pay your rent before a certain day of the month.

If your lease contains one of these provisions, it is still in effect, but your landlord cannot enforce the illegal provision. If he/she tries to enforce an illegal provision, you can sue him/her.

How much can my landlord charge as a late fee?

If your monthly rent is $500 or less your landlord can charge you no more than $10 per month.

If your monthly rent is more than $500, your landlord can charge you an additional fee equal to 5% of the amount that exceeds $500. Therefore if your rent is $700, your landlord can charge you $10 plus 5% of 200, for a total late fee of $20.

Do I have to move if my landlord sells the property before my lease ends?

No. Your lease remains in effect and the new owner has to comply with the terms of this agreement. If you suspect your building is in foreclosure, contact MTO.

If I have a written lease, what happens when it ends?

If you want to leave the apartment when your lease ends, you can just move. You do not have to give your landlord any advance notice.

What if my landlord wants me to move when my written lease ends?

At least 30 days before the lease ends your landlord must provide you with a written notice stating that your tenancy will not be renewed. If you do not receive this notice in a timely manner, you may stay in the unit for up to 60 days after the date on which you do receive the notice. (remember, however, that your obligation to pay rent continues during this 60 day period).

Can I break my lease before it ends?

Only if your landlord agrees to let you out of the lease or violates your rights under Chicago’s Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance. If you want to break the lease because your landlord has violated your rights, contact an attorney.

What if my landlord doesn’t let me break the lease, but I still move out before the lease ends?

Your landlord must make a good faith effort to re-rent the apartment. If she’s unsuccessful, you remain responsible for the rent. If he/she rents it for less than what you were paying you remain responsible for the difference.

Can I sublet my apartment?

Yes, and your landlord cannot charge you any subletting fees. Furthermore, if your landlord does not let you sublet to a suitable person, you don’t have to pay the rent for that period that begins when the subtenant was willing to move in.

What if my subtenant does not pay the rent?

You remain responsible for it.

REPAIRS

What is my landlord responsible for?

Your landlord has a duty to keep your apartment in good shape and make all necessary repairs. If he/she fails to do this, you may be able to:

  • Make the repairs yourself and deduct their cost from your rent;
  • Withhold a portion of your rent;
  • Sue your landlord; or
  • Terminate your lease agreement.

What must my landlord do to maintain the condition of my apartment?


  • Keep your toilet, bathtub, shower, and bathroom sink in good working order;
  • Keep your furnace and boiler in good working order;   
  • Keep your windows weatherproof;
  • Keep your floors, walls and ceilings in good repair;
  • Keep your plumbing fixtures in good repair;
  • Keep your electrical outlets safe and operable;
  • Prevent the accumulation of stagnant water;
  • Keep all of the appliances he supplies in good working order;
  • Maintain the building is foundation, exterior walls, and roof in good and watertight condition;
  • Provide adequate hall and stairway lighting; Keep all stairways and porches in a safe and sound condition;
  • Provide trash containers;
  • Protect you against rodents and insects by exterminating; and
  • Comply with all other requirements of Chicago’s Municipal Code

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

If my landlord doesn’t make necessary repairs, can I use my rent to pay for these repairs?

Yes, but only if the repair will not cost more than $500 or one-half of your rent (whichever is greater). Using your rent money to make necessary repairs is called “repairing and deducting.”

How do I “repair and deduct?”

Using Squared Away, give your landlord a written notice stating that, unless he/she makes the necessary repairs within 14 days, you will make them yourself and deduct their cost from your rent. Keep a copy of the notice. If your landlord doesn’t make the necessary repairs within 14 days of receiving the notice, you can make the repairs or pay someone else to do it. After giving your landlord paid receipts to confirm the cost of repair, you can deduct this cost from your rent. See "Repair and Deduct" sample letter HERE

What if I want to repair a problem in a common area, such as a stairway or hallway?

You must first give all of the other tenants written notice of your plan to make the repair.

If my landlord doesn’t make necessary repairs, can I withhold a portion of my rent?

Yes, but first give your landlord a written notice stating that, unless she makes the necessary repairs within 14 days, you will withhold a certain portion of your monthly rent payments.

NOTE: You cannot withhold a portion of your rent and “repair and deduct” in the same month.

The amount you withhold must reasonably reflect the reduced value of your apartment. Be conservative. You cannot withhold all your rent unless your apartment is in such bad shape that you must move, and you can rarely withhold as much as 50%. If you withhold too much, your landlord may be able to evict you for nonpayment of rent. To be safe, consult with an attorney. See “rent reduction” sample letter HERE .

Can I terminate my lease because my landlord has failed to make necessary repairs?

Yes, but only in very serious cases. Consult with an attorney first.

How can I terminate my lease?

Provide your landlord with written notice that you will terminate your lease in no less than 14 days unless he makes whatever repairs are necessary. If she does not correct the problem within 14 days of receiving this notice, you may terminate your lease agreement. If you terminate the lease, you must move within the next 30 days otherwise your lease will remain in effect. See sample letter HERE

If my landlord doesn’t make necessary repairs, can I sue him/her?

Yes, but consult with an attorney first.

Can I make my landlord pay for the cost of repairing a problem I caused?

No.

What if my landlord fails to provide me with an essential service (such as heat, electricity, or running water)?

This is a serious issue! Please see Heat & Essential Services and contact MTO for further assistance.

Does my landlord have to repaint my apartment?

Not unless the paint is cracking or peeling.

Can I sue my landlord if my property is damaged in her apartment?

Only if the property was damaged as a result of your landlord’s negligence.

HEAT & ESSENTIAL SERVICES

What are essential services?

Heat, running water, hot water, electricity, gas, and plumbing.

Who is responsible for paying for these services?

That depends upon the terms of your lease agreement.

What if I’m responsible for the cost of heating my apartment?

Your landlord must give you a written statement setting forth the projected average monthly cost of heating your unit. (Your landlord must do this even if your tenancy is not governed by Chicago’s Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance). 

What if I get a shut-off notice because my landlord didn’t pay a utility bill?

After reporting the problem to 311 and giving your landlord written notice of this problem, you can:

pay the utility company to keep the service on, and

deduct from your rent the amount you pay the utility company.

​Click HERE to read about other common utility problems. 

What is the first thing I should do if an essential service that my landlord is supposed to supply is shut off?

You must first give your landlord written notice of this problem. THIS IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. After providing such notice, you have several options. These options are set forth below.

Pay the utility company to restore the service:

You can deduct this payment from your rent. Make sure you get a receipt from the utility company so you can prove how much you paid.

Buy something (such as a space heater) that can supply the essential service:

You can deduct from your rent the cost of what you’ve bought. Make sure you get a receipt for your purchase so you can prove how much you paid for it. Do not use a gas stove to heat the apartment! 

Move out of your apartment and stay in a motel until the essential service is restored:

You do not have to pay rent for the period you’re in the motel or other temporary housing. Furthermore, you may deduct from your future rent payments the cost of this temporary housing (as long as it does not exceed your monthly rent).

Sue your landlord:

Contact an attorney first. He/she can help you sue your landlord for an amount that reflects the reduced value of your apartment plus attorney’s fees.

Terminate your lease if service is not restored:

If, and only if, your landlord doesn’t restore the service within 72 hours of receiving your written notice. If that happens, you can send your landlord another written notice stating that you are terminating the lease agreement.

NOTE: You may not terminate your lease agreement for lack of an essential service if the utility company is unable to provide the service. If you terminate the lease, you must move within the next 30 days. Otherwise, your lease will remain in effect.

What if a member of my family, a guest, or myself are responsible for the lack of service?

In that case, you may not use any of the remedies set forth above.

Am I entitled to notice if the building’s utilities are going to be disconnected?

Yes. Your landlord must provide you with written notice of any proposed shut-off. This notice must:

Identify the service that will be terminated;

State the intended date of termination;

State whether the proposed termination will affect your apartment.

What if my landlord fails to provide me with this notice?

You can notify him/her, in writing, that you will terminate the lease agreement in no less than 14 days if he/she does not provide you with the required information. If you terminate the lease, you must move within the next 30 days. Otherwise, your lease will remain in effect.

How warm should my apartment be?

The Chicago Municipal Code states that, from September 15 of each year to June 1 of the following year, the temperature in your apartment must be at least:

68 degrees from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

66 degrees for all other times.

What if my apartment is too cold?

Record the temperature in your apartment three times a day for a week. If these recordings show that your apartment is too cold, send your landlord a letter stating that he/she is violating the Chicago Municipal Code and must increase the temperature in your apartment. If he/she doesn’t comply with this demand, call the City’s Heat Hotline at 312-744-5000.

What if my landlord shuts off my utility service in an attempt to force me out of the apartment?

Call the police and an attorney! For more information, see Lockouts and Retaliation. This is true even if your tenancy is not governed by Chicago’s Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance!

BED BUGS

On June 5, 2013 Chicago passed an ordinance on bed bug control. The ordinance requires eradication to be performed by a pest control professional as many times as necessary to eliminate the reported problem.  Click here to read the full ordinance. Bed bug eradication is not an easy task and will almost always require a pest control professional who practices Integrated Pest Management (IPM). If you are experiencing a bed bug infestation, contact MTO's hotline at 773-292-4988. You should also contact your landlord immediately, in writing, using this template to craft your notice.

LOCKOUTS

Lockouts from any rental units are illegal in the City of Chicago.

What is a lock-out?  It’s an attempt to force you out of your apartment by:


  • Changing or plugging the locks on any of your doors;
  • Blocking an entrance to your apartment;
  • Removing one of your apartment doors or windows;
  • Shutting off any of your utility services; or
  • Removing your personal property from the apartment.

Lock-outs are against the law, and your landlord can be arrested and fined for locking you out of your apartment.

Can I be locked-out if I don’t pay rent?

No. Your landlord can evict you for non-payment of rent, but he/she must first file a lawsuit against you, win this lawsuit, and then pay the Sheriff to evict you. Your landlord cannot just lock you out of your apartment. Please refer to Leases for more information.

Can I be locked-out for any reason?

Only if you have abandoned the apartment. Your landlord, however, cannot claim that you have abandoned your apartment unless:

You tell your landlord that you are leaving and not coming back;

Everyone in your household removes their personal belongings and leaves the apartment for at least 21 days, and no rent is paid for the period you are gone; or

Everyone in your household leaves the apartment for at least 32 days and no rent is paid for the period you are gone.

What should I do if my landlord locks me out?

Call the police! If they can find your landlord they will order him/her to let you back into your apartment. Make sure you have something to show the police to prove that you reside in the apartment (such as a rent receipt, utility bill, etc.). You should also call an attorney.

What if the police will not help me?

Special Order #01-04-03 states that the police must investigate lock-outs. If a police officer refuses to help you, get his badge number, call your local police station, and ask to speak with the Watch Commander.

Can I sue my landlord if he/she locks me out?

Yes, but you should speak to an attorney first. You can sue your landlord for two months rent or twice your actual damages (whichever is greater), plus attorney’s fees.

RETALIATION

What is retaliatory conduct?

It is any action your landlord takes (or threatens to take) to punish you for engaging in one of the “protected activities” described below.


  • Complaining to a government agency, community organization, or the news media about the condition of your apartment;
  • Asking your landlord to make necessary repairs;
  • Joining a tenants’ organization;
  • Testifying in any court or administrative proceeding about the condition of your apartment or building; or
  • Exercising any other right or remedy under law.

How might my landlord try to retaliate against me?

They might try to retaliate against you by:


  • Terminating or threatening to terminate your lease agreement;
  • Increasing your rent;
  • Refusing to provide you with a necessary service; or
  • Refusing to renew your lease agreement.
  • Exercising any other right or remedy under law.

How can I prove that my landlord’s conduct is retaliatory?

Keep a record of your “protected activities.” For instance, if you write a letter to your landlord asking him to make repairs, save the letter. Your landlord’s conduct is presumed to be retaliatory if it occurs within one year after you engaged in a “protected activity.” Your landlord may, of course, overcome this presumption by showing that he had a legitimate reason for terminating your lease, increasing your rent, etc.

Please Note: This information, published by the Metropolitan Tenants Organization as a public service, gives you only a general idea of your rights and responsibilities under the Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance (RLTO) and other relevant chapters of Chicago’s Municipal Code. It is meant to inform, but not to advise. Before enforcing your rights, you may want to seek the advice of an attorney who can analyze the facts of your case and apply the law to these facts.

EVICTON

If your landlord tries to force you out of your apartment without following proper legal procedures, call the police! If you live in a CHA building, CHA police can evict you. Otherwise, only the Sheriff of Cook County can evict you. Your landlord can not! If you have received a 5 or 10-day notice of eviction, you need to speak with an attorney. Contact MTO immediately at 773-292-4988.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

What can I be evicted for and how do I know I am being evicted?

Your landlord can not evict you prior to the termination of your lease unless you violate one of the lease provisions or are behind on rent.  In order to be evicted, your landlord must provide you with a written notice stating the possible reason(s) for eviction. If you do not comply with the notice, your landlord must file a lawsuit against you called an “eviction action”. Your landlord cannot have you evicted unless he/she wins this lawsuit.

If you are behind on your rent, your landlord can give you a written demand for the rent, called a “5-day notice”. If you violate a provision in your lease, your landlord can give you a “10-day notice”. Your tenancy will end unless you pay all the rent owed within no less than 5 days or correct the lease violation in no less than 10 days. If you fail to comply with this demand, your landlord can file a lawsuit against you. (If you live in a CHA building, the notice must give you 14 days within which to pay the rent).

What do I do if I receive an eviction notice?

If you receive a 5-day notice, give your landlord all the rent you owe (nothing more) within the next 5 days. Bring a witness with you when you make your payment. Always pay with a check or money order. You can then use the canceled check or money order receipt to prove you paid rent on a certain date. You should only give partial payment if the landlord agrees, in writing, to (1) allow you to pay the rest of what you owe later, and (2) not evict you for failing to pay everything you owed within 5 days of receiving the termination notice. If your landlord refuses to accept rent within the 5-day period, he/she gives up his/her right to file an eviction action against you.

If you receive a 10-day notice, send your landlord a letter explaining what action you have taken to cure the violation. Send the letter by certified mail and keep a copy. If your landlord files an eviction action against you, bring the letter to court. . If you fail to “cure” the violation in a timely manner, your landlord can file an eviction action against you.

If your landlord has filed an eviction action against you, you will receive a court document called a “summons,” which states where and when you must appear for trial. Always show up for court! Even if you lose your case, the judge will give you more time to move if you appear in court. You should contact an attorney as soon as you receive a termination notice. If you have not secured an attorney, ask the judge for a short continuance so you can retain representation. If you do not want an attorney, the judge may conduct the trial immediately. Bring the summons you received, as well as any evidence that supports your case (such as your lease agreement, rent receipts, pictures of your apartment, letters you wrote to or received from your landlord, etc.) Also bring any witnesses who are willing to testify on your behalf.

If you lose your case, the judge will order you to move. He/she may also order you to pay your landlord any rent you owe. In most cases, the judge will postpone your eviction for a period of 7 to 21 days. You cannot be evicted before this period ends. If you need more time, you can file a motion for an extension of time. The day before you are scheduled to be evicted, go to the Advice Desk in the back of Room 602 of the Daley Center and ask the person sitting there to help you file this motion.

FORECLOSURE

WHAT IS FORECLOSURE?

If you are renting an apartment, house or condo that is in foreclosure, this means a Court has sent a legal notice to the owner of your unit. The notice says that the owner has not paid the mortgage, and must appear in Court to resolve the issue with his or her lender (bank). The process to resolve this can take several months to a year or more. Sometimes, the bank and the owner reach an agreement and your landlord continues to own the property. In other cases, the Court appoints a Receiver (a new manager) or allows the bank to sell the property.

During this process your responsibilities do not change. For instance:

YOU MUST CONTINUE PAYING RENT, as failure to pay rent may be grounds for eviction. If a new owner buys your apartment or management changes, you are supposed to be notified of these changes in writing. If an eviction was filed against you for not paying rent, but you were never notified that there was a new landlord to pay, you may have a defense against the eviction.

DURING FORECLOSURE

You Have The Right To A Safe Unit, With Utilities:

Your landlord is responsible for the maintenance of your apartment. If a new owner buys your apartment or the Court appoints a Receiver (a new manager), the new landlord be responsible for maintenance and any other terms of the lease, including utilities. If your building is not maintained and becomes unsafe, or the building’s utilities are shut off, talk with your landlord. If that is not possible or doesn’t fix the problem, call the Building Department via 311.

You Can Stay Until Your Lease Ends:

Protect yourself against illegal lockouts. If anyone other than a sheriff orders you to move out, or if your building is boarded up or utilities (heat, electricity, or water) are turned off without a court order, call 911 and file a police report. YOU MUST BE GIVEN A 90-DAY NOTICE IF YOU ARE ASKED TO MOVE. Beware of letters and notices posted on your building saying that you must move out immediately. After the foreclosure ends, a new landlord or owner who wants you to move must give you a 90-day notice. All tenants have this right, including month-to-month tenants. Tenants with leases should be able stay until the end of their lease.

CAUTION: A new owner (sometimes a bank) may offer to pay you to leave early. You are free to accept that offer BUT beware of offers that ask you to:


  • Leave your home too quickly.
  • Move out and hand over your keys (cash for keys) before you are paid.
  • Wait until every tenant moves out of the building before you are paid.

AFTER FORECLOSURE

You May Be Eligible For $10,600 Or A New Lease!

The Keep Chicago Renting ordinance, effective September 24, 2013 requires landlords that take possession of foreclosed rental buildings to offer legitimate tenants new leases for as long as they own the building or give them $10,600 per unit in relocation assistance. Any unpaid rent could be deducted from the relocation fee. The requirements would continue until the building is sold to a third party. http://www.tenants-rights.org/keep-chicago-renting-ordinance-kcro/

You Must Be Notified If Your Landlord Changes:

You have a right to be notified in writing if your landlord changes. In some cases, a new owner will buy the building or your apartment, becoming your new landlord. In other cases, a Receiver (a court-appointed manager) will be put in charge of the building. If an eviction was filed against you for not paying rent, but you were never notified that there was a new landlord to pay, you may have a defense against the eviction.

You Have A Right To Seal Your Record:

If the court orders you to be evicted because the building is being foreclosed—not because you did anything wrong—the court record can be sealed (made confidential) to protect your credit rating and your ability to rent in the future.

You Have A Right To Recover Your Security Deposit:

Your old landlord should return your security deposit if the foreclosure makes you move or after they lose the building. In Chicago, the new owner of the property, such as a bank, may be responsible for returning security deposits.

SECURITY DEPOSITS

Security Deposit Basics:


  • Your landlord is required to keep your deposit in an interest bearing account, and notify you of which bank is holding your deposit. You should have received a receipt when you handed over the deposit.
  • Landlord’s have 45 days to return your deposit and 30 days to inform you of any reason they have for withholding any portion of the deposit. That notice must be in writing with an itemized list of issues/costs.
  • If your landlord does not furnish your deposit within 45 days, you have the right to sue your landlord for twice the amount of the deposit, plus court costs and attorney's fees.


How To Protect Your Deposit:

Before you move out, there are a few things to do to ensure you will get your deposit back:

Clean the apartment, repair any damage you caused, and take pictures of the apartment to verify its condition. You should ask the landlord to:

1.) Walk through the apartment with you just before you move out; and

2.) Sign a statement verifying the condition of the apartment.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can I use my security deposit to pay the last month’s rent?

Not unless your landlord agrees to let you do this. If you reach such an agreement with your landlord, make sure you get this agreement in writing. A security deposit is not rent. You may get evicted if you treat it like rent, without your landlord’s written permission.

What happens to my security deposit when I Sublet?

The landlord is entitled to hold your security deposit until the end of the lease, so you should either:

Ask your landlord to return your deposit and collect a new one from the subtenant; or,

Collect a security deposit from the subtenant yourself.

The landlord cannot keep a deposit from both you and the subtenant if the total amount of the deposit exceeds the amount listed on the lease.

What should I do if my landlord won't give me my deposit back?

Go to Squared Away and report the issue to your landlord. If they do not reply, click 'escalate' and send the Security Deposit Return letter. You can also send a copy via mail, simply fill out and send [http:// this notice]. If you still do not recieve your deposit, contact MTO or see Helpful Contacts (below) for legal referrals.

MOVING OUT

Do I have to tell my landlord I am moving if I have a written lease?

No. Your lease sets forth the date on which it ends, and you are supposed to move on that date unless you and your landlord agree to renew your lease agreement. If you plan on moving out at the end of your lease, we recommend letting your landlord know by setting up an inspection.

What if I do not have a written lease?

If you pay rent on a monthly basis, you must give your landlord 30 days written notice that you are moving out. Otherwise, you can be held liable for another month’s rent. If you pay rent on a weekly basis, you give your landlord 7 days written notice that you are moving. Otherwise, you can be held liable for another week’s rent.

Can I use my security deposit to pay the last month’s rent?'

Not unless your landlord agrees. If you reach such an agreement with your landlord, make sure you get this agreement in writing. A security deposit is not rent. You may get evicted if you treat it like rent without your landlord’s written permission. Please refer to  Security Deposits for more information.

What if I move out after the day I am supposed to move?

You may become responsible for an additional month’s rent. For instance, if you are supposed to move on the last day of January, but you don’t actually move until February 2, your landlord may be able to hold you responsible for the February rent.  

What if I leave my property behind when I move out?

Your landlord must leave the property in the apartment or store it somewhere safe for 7 days. If the property is not worth the cost of storage, however, he/she can throw it away immediately.  

Can I break my lease before it ends?

Only if your landlord violates your rights under the Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance or agrees to let you out of the lease. If you want to break the lease because your landlord has violated your rights, contact an attorney. Please refer to Leases for more information.

What if my landlord doesn’t let me break the lease, but I still move out before the lease ends?

Your landlord must make a good faith effort to re-rent the apartment. If he/she’s unsuccessful, you remain responsible for the rent. If he/she rents it for less than what you were paying, you remain responsible for the difference. Please refer to Leases for more information.

Can I sublet my apartment?

Yes, and your landlord cannot charge you any subletting fees. Furthermore, if your landlord does not let you sublet to a suitable person, you don’t have to pay rent for the period that begins when the subtenant was willing to move in.

What if my subtenant does not pay the rent?

You become responsible for it.

What happens to my security deposit when I Sublet?

The landlord is entitled to hold your security deposit until the end of the lease, so you should either:

Ask your landlord to return your deposit and collect a new one from the subtenant; or,

Collect a security deposit from the subtenant yourself.

OTHER

Find Your Landlord’s Information:

Landlord’s Name

Step 1 Click here to find the Property Identification Number (PIN) of your building. You can also call the Cook County Assessor’s office at 312-443-7550.

Step 2 Take the PIN number, go to the Cook County Recorder of Deeds’ website and do a Property Identification Number (PIN) Search. You can also call them at 312-603-5050. This search will give you the owner’s name.

Landlord’s Address


  1. Take the document number of the deed (found in Step 2 above) to the microfiche department in the Recorders Office (118 N Clark Street), down the hall from the Tract Dept.  Tell them you want to look at the deed to determine the grantee’s address.  Give them the document number.  Look at the deed for the grantee’s address, usually near the beginning.  This is the landlord’s address at the time he/she purchased the building.  The address could be near the bottom under “send subsequent tax bills to”.  If it is a corporation, call the Secretary of State at 312-793-3380 to get the name of the registered agent and corporation’s address.
  2. Call the Revenue Dept. 312-443-5100 or 443-6253 to find out the property taxpayer’s name.   Caution – the taxpayer is not necessarily the owner, it could be the previous one.   You can also get this info in Room 112.1.    
  3. If you have the landlord’s phone number, call Ameritech’s Reverse Directory at 312-796-9600.   They will give you the address if the number is listed.
  4. Call the City’s Dept. of Buildings Multiple Dwelling Registration number 312-744-3452.   All apartment buildings should be registered.   They can give you the name and address of the landlord or landlord’s agent.   However, few buildings are registered even though failure to register is a building code violation.
  5. You can check to see if your landlord is being sued (defendant) by calling the three numbers listed below.  (Or use the computers in room 602 of the Daley Center 50 W. Washington Street.  Type “users” to get to the main menu.)  If he/she is, get the case number. Then go to the appropriate floor at the Daley Center and look at the file (see below for the location of the different departments). The address where the landlord was served should be on the summons.

Chancery (foreclosure) 312-443-5133 files on 8th floor | Law 312-443-5426 files on 8th floor | Municipal 312-443-5145 files on 6th floor

HELPFUL CONTACTS

Department of Buildings

Building Complaints  Dial 311 or CLICK HERE to search building violations online.
Certificates of Occupancy...........312-744-3426
Commissioner’s Office................312-744-9080
Community Outreach..................312-744-3430
Construction Inspections.............312-746-8488
Elevator Inspections...................312-746-8022
Iron Inspections..........................312-746-8069
Licensing and Registration...........312-744-3895
Occupancy Cards.......................312-744-3175
Refrigeration Inspections.............312-746-8437
Self Certification.........................312-744-3124
Sign Permits, Electrical...............312-744-3472
Ventilation Inspections 312-746-8460
Boiler Inspections 312-746-8073

Other Government Resources 

Chicago Housing Authority

(Main Number).............................................................................312-742-8500

(Section 8 Voucher Holders)..........................................................312-935-2600

(Complaint Hotline)........................................................................800-544-7139

Housing & Urban Development (HUD)

(Section 8 Counselor Complaints)....................................................312-353-6236

(Fair Housing/Equal Opportunity).....................................................312-353-7776

CARPLS (commercial renters).........................................................312-738-9200

CEDA (weatherization program for low income renters).....................800-571-2332

Center for Conflict Resolution (Mediation).........................................312-922-6464

Chicago Business Affairs and Consumer Protection...........................312-744-6060

Chicago Senior Services – Area Agency on Aging..............................312-744-4016

Citizen’s Utility Board (complaints about utility bill)..............................800-669-5556

Cook County Recorder of Deeds (Sale of Property Info)....................312-603-5050

C ook County Sheriff’s Eviction Unit...................................................312-603-3365

Cook County States Attorney Consumer Fraud..................................312-603-8700

Eviction Court..................................................................................312-603-6486

IL Commerce Commission (regulates utility providers).........................800-524-0795

Independent Police Review Authority (to file complaint against police)...312-746-3609

LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program)...................877-411-9276

Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly Chicago Chapter.........................312-455-1000

Shriver Center (victims of sexual & domestic assault)..........................312-263-3830

Small Claims Court (claims between $1500 to $5000,Civil Division)......312-603-5145

United States Postal Service.............................................................800-275-8777

Discrimination

Access Living (discrimination based on disability, also excellent connection to advocacy and different programs for persons with a disability)  

Legal intake line for discrimination complaints………………………………………..312-640-2106

General office, and to inquire about housing lists or other programs……….312-640-2100

Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law………………………….312-630-9744

Commission on Human Relations

(All city discrimination complaints)…………………………………………………………..312-744-1088

Illinois Department of Human Rights (Fair Housing Division)……………………312-814-6227

John Marshall Law School Fair Housing Legal Clinic.....................................312-786-2267

Latino Policy Forum (policy, research, information)…………………………………..312-376-1766 

Foreclosure Procedure and Attorney

Go to newschicago.org (to get PIN # of the property, then call recorder of deeds)

Recorder of Deeds – tenant can also [http:// http://www.ccrd.info search online]

(Give them PIN# to see if aptartment has a case #)………………312-603-5050

Chancery Court (if it has a case number)…………………………..312-603-5133

Or online at cookcountyclerkofcourt.org

Lawyers Committee for Better Housing…........................................312-784-3505

Landlords Seeking Assistance

Spanish Coalition for Housing………................................................773-342-7575

Community Investment Corporation……………………...................312-258-0070

(or via preferred method, email: taft.west@cicchicago.com)

Chicago Rents Right………………………………………………....312-742-7368

Translation/Letter Writing Services

LIFT-Chicago Uptown Office…………………………......................773-303-0700

LIFT-Chicago Pilsen Office…………………………………………312-994-8387

Chinese American Service League (Translation, South Side)…..312-791-0418

Chinese Mutual Aid (Translation, North Side)…………………….773-784-2900

Polish American Association……………………………………….773-767-7773

Non-Profit Legal Assistance

Evictions

Lawyers Committee for Better Housing………………………………………………………....312-784-3527

It’s best for you to bring all relevant paperwork to LCBH during walk-in hours. (9am – 12pm Mon, Wed or Thurs at 100 W Monroe 18th Floor)

Chicago Volunteer Legal Services (Serves Spanish speakers)………………………………312-332-1624

Cabrini Green Legal Clinic ($20.00 fee)........................................................................................312-738-2452  

Chicago Legal Clinic (retaliatory eviction ONLY! Serves Spanish Speakers............................773-731-1762

Advice before Court or to get extension to stay (this is an important back-up in the event that you do not find an attorney)

CARPLS Advice Desk - Room 602, Daley Ctr. Located at Station 7- Pro se Defendants

Kent Law School Advice Desk - Room 602, Daley Ctr. - Pro se Defendants only

Subsidized Tenants (CHA, HUD, Section 8)

Legal Assistance Foundation………………………………………………………………312-341-1070

Cabrini Green Legal Clinic ($20.00 fee)…………………………………………………..312-738-2452

Chicago Bar Association  (free Legal Advice every 3rd Saturday of the month)…........312-554-2001

Security Deposit Defense

Chicago Legal Clinic (deposit must be $2500 & over, $30 1st visit & court).....................773-731-1762

Lawyers Committee for Better Housing………………………………………………….......312-784-3527

Cabrini Green Legal Clinic ($20.00 fee)…………………………………………………….312-738-2452

Tenants with Disabilities and Seniors

Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (up to age 59)………………………….............312-744-7050

Center for Disability and Elder Law…………………………………………………………..312-376-1880

Chicago Senior Services – Area Agency on Aging………………………………………...312-744-4016

Tenants in Logan Square area

Micah Legal Aid………………………………………………………………………………...773 463-6768

Tenants in Uptown area'

Uptown People’s Law Office…………………………………………………………………..773-769-1411

Suburbanites outside of Cook County

Prairie State Legal Services: Lake & McHenry……………………………………………...847-662-6925

DeKalb & Kane………………………………………………..630-232-9415

DuPage………………………………………………………...630-690-2130

Will……………………………………………………………....815-727-5123

Private Attorneys

David Morris (Security Deposit, Damage Claims and Affirmative RLTO)……………..312-986-1955

William Moore (Security Deposit, Affirmative RLTO)………………………………….....708-268-3495

Paul Bernstein (Security Deposit)…………………………………………………………866-769-2892

Joan Fenstermaker (Security Deposits, Retaliation and Foreclosures)………………..312-371-6473

Mike Radzilowsky (Primarily Evictions)……………………………………………………312-986-0600

Hall Adams (Bed Bugs)……………………………………………………………………..312-445-4900

Anthony Petron (Security Deposit, Affirmative RLTO)………………………………….....312-553-9500

Berton N. Ring (Class Action & Appellate, Mold Inspectors)……………………………...312-781-0290

Joseph F. Vitu, Jr., Vitu Law Offices (Injuries and Landlord problems)…………………..312-726-2323

Michael A. Childers (Security Deposits, Legal Advice; speak with Beverly Hadley)........312- 641-1900

Daniel M. Starr (Security Deposits, Evictions and class actions)…………………….......312-346-9420

Aldon Patt (security deposit)………………………………………………………………....312-641-0885