Whose Repair is It Anyway? Illinois Law and Landlord and Tenant Responsibilities | Gardi & Haught, Ltd.

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Whose Repair is It Anyway? Illinois Law and Landlord and Tenant Responsibilities

Whose Repair is It Anyway?  Illinois Law and Landlord and Tenant Responsibilities

By Michael DeSantis

When it comes to maintaining a rented dwelling, the tenant and landlord apartment responsibilities may not be clear. What’s a tenant to do if a landlord does not respond to a request for a repair? Or if the landlord responds but the tenant is not satisfied?

Tenants and landlords have specific responsibilities when it comes to property damage and repairs and there is a specific legal protocol for both parties. In this blog, we will go through the proper procedure for landlords and tenants when something is amiss in the rental unit.

Tenant’s Procedure

It is a common misconception that if your landlord isn’t responding to your request to make repairs, you can stop paying rent. Wrong! Tenants have responsibilities and there are direct consequences to refusing to pay rent, including eviction. When it comes to repairing minor defects, follow these guidelines to avoid any legal trouble:

  1. Take a look at your lease. It will lay out what kinds of repairs the landlord will make. If the repair you want made is not addressed in your lease (or even if it is), check your local ordinance to see what kind of specific repairs landlords are required to make in your area. Typically, landlord responsibilities include keeping larger issues such as structural components of the property, plumbing, and larger appliances like the stove and refrigerator functioning well. Daily housekeeping like cleaning, taking out the trash, and replacing smoke detector batteries and light bulbs fall under the tenant’s responsibilities. Landlords are required by the Chicago Ordinance 5-12-070 to “maintain the premises in compliance with all applicable provisions of the municipal code and shall promptly make any and all repairs necessary to fulfill this obligation. ”If the property has not been maintained to the standard it was agreed upon at the beginning of the lease period, you may need to address the situation. Consult a landlord tenant lawyer to explore your rights.
  2. Contact the landlord in writing. If your landlord is a large management company, you should typically contact the maintenance department, or whoever should be contacted as specified in the lease. As required by Chicago Ordinance, the landlord is typically required to address minor defects and begin repairs within 14 days.  If you live in a city without a specific ordinance, and there is nothing on the lease that gives a required time frame to begin repairs for minor defects, you still have the right to give notice for repair within 14 days under the State of Illinois Residential Tenant’s Right to Repair Act.
  3. Start over if necessary. If you think the repair from the landlord does not address the issue, you should start over with the procedure, giving written notice as indicated by the lease, local ordinance or the Illinois Residential Tenant’s Right to Repair Act.
  4. Fix the issue yourself if necessary. If the issue is not fixed within the 14-day timeframe, you have the right to fix the issue yourself and deduct it from the rent under the Residential Tenants’ Right to Repair Act . You can hire repairmen to perform the services, then provide receipt to your landlord and deduct the amount from your rent. The cost of repairs can be no more than $500 or half the monthly rent. It is very important to follow each step of the procedure correctly and continue to comply with the lease agreement and the ordinance or risk or eviction from the landlord.

Landlord’s Procedure

In the city of  Chicago, a landlord’s responsibilities can be found in Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance Section 5-12-070. According to section 5-12-110, you are responsible for maintaining the structural integrity of the unit. If a tenant complains of an issue, do the right thing and respond to it. Ask for more specifics or inspect the property. You don’t want to be seen as an unresponsive landlord.

Here are some tips for landlords to remember when a tenant requests a repair:

  1. Repair minor defects in a timely manner. Take reasonable steps to address the issue as specified in the lease. Some city ordinances require you to act on minor defects within 14 days. If the repair is in progress but not complete in 14 days, try to get it done as quickly as possible to avoid any legal trouble.
  2. Notify the tenant. Remember, if you are sending someone into the unit to do the repair, the tenant must be notified as specified in your lease. Chicago ordinance requires 48 hours. You can contact them by phone, email, etc.
  3. Repair professionally. All repair work should be done in a “workman-like manner”, in other words, done professionally. The repair should remedy the problem. Keep records of repairs, diagnosed issues, invoices and communications with the tenant.
  4. Now, if the tenant is responsible for the repair as outlined in the lease and not covered by a city ordinance and they refuse to pay their rent, you have the right to give a 5-day termination notice. However, before doing so, it may be a good idea to consult with a landlord tenant lawyer. This will ensure you are within your rights to evict and also make sure you do so in compliance with the lease as well as all local ordinances.

Bedbugs and Pest Control

While pest control issues are still considered the landlord’s responsibility, there are specific rules for dealing with bedbugs. For example, tenants are legally required to inform landlords of suspected or confirmed infestations, and the problem must be dealt with by both parties in a certain amount of time to prevent the spread of the pests. See the Chicago city ordinance for full information.

We get calls from disgruntled tenants ready to take legal action and landlords ready to evict their tenants. For both parties, contacting a tenant/landlord attorney early in the process is always the best way to ensure that you follow the proper procedure to get what you want without ending up in court. We can help you stay focused on your rights and keep a cool head as you move forward to resolve the issue with as little headache as possible. If we can help you with your case, request a free case evaluation below.

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