Leases – FAQ

Last updated: October 21, 2009 – 11:16 AM

NOTE: If your landlord lives in your building, see the “Exceptions” note on the right side of this page.

This FAQ describes the different types of leases, how and when you can terminate a lease and identifies different lease provisions that are prohibited by law.

Does every tenant have a lease agreement?
Yes. It may be a written lease or an oral (unwritten) lease.

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.

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 pus 5% of 200, for a total late fee of $20.

Is my lease still in effect if it has an illegal provision?
Yes. Your lease 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.

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 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.

Please Note:This information, published by the Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago and the Metropolitan Tenants Organization as a public service, gives you only a general idea of your rights and responsibilities under the Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance and other relevant chapters of Chicagoís 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.

Still can’t find the answer? Send us your questions. Please allow several days for a response.

All 119 Comments

  1. If I live in a 2 flat building in Chicago that is owner occupied. Is the landlord required to give 30 day notice that the lease will not be renewed at the end of the term? He says he sent notice as a courtesy, but that it isn’t actually required in Illinois.

    1. There is no concrete statute regarding this situation. In general, in Illinois, at the end of the lease term the lease is over. Are there any clauses in your lease that may help define how the landlord and the tenant are to act in this situation. Many times notice provisions of this type are enumerated in the lease.

  2. What happens when the landlord does not want to give me a copy of the lease even after formal written notice has been sent to her and it has been more than 14 days?

  3. I currently live in a large 2 bedroom apartment with one roommate. We want to get another roommate to bring the total up to 3. My landlord was weird about having two people live there in the first place and actually raised rent (before signing the lease) when I said I would have a roommate. I’m worried she will try to raise rent again or reject a third person living there. Can she raise rent when we add a roommate and the original tenants still live there? Under what conditions can she reject a reasonable roommate? What could I do if she does reject the roommate? Thank you!

    1. Before answering your question, you need to look at your lease and see what the lease states. Some leases will only current residents to live there. Is there any discrimination happening? Landlords can reject people particularly if they have bad credit etc. The problem lies is what happens if your roommate does not work and then whose responsibility is it to get rid of the person. If there is nothing in the lease and no rule against it then you can. Just know that you will be the landlord to that person which means all the responsibilities that go along with it.

  4. I’m back! So we eventually found a subleaser and there are three of us living in the unit. Now I am on the flip side of the equation. I am moving out. I found a subleaser. She passed the background check and credit check. I followed both the written and verbal instructions of the landlord for subletting. The two current roommates blocked this girl from subleasing. One even brought her lawyer dad into the landlord’s office demanding I pay April’s rent and that they get a month to find a roommate. Our lease agreements are individually binding. I found several replacements but the roommates are not cooperating (not returning outreach from prospects) I have documentation of everything. Am I liable for April rent? Do I need to take legal action? I have in good faith looked for a sublease and found several but no one (the landlord or the other tenants are cooperating). Furthermore, am I going to lose my $300 security deposit?


    1. There are different ways to approach this and I am not sure what your relationship is with your roommates, nor who the lease is written. Are you separately responsible for payments or are you jointly responsible? Options include:

      1. negotiating an agreement with the current roommates. The Center for Conflict Conflict Resolution offers free mediation for situations like this.
      2. Not pay the rent and send the landlord and the roommates a letter stating that you you have provided everyone with several sublettors that are qualified and thus you have fulfilled your responsibility. They need to find a sublettor. If the landlord is not getting their money they can go after anyone that signed lease either together or as individuals. Usually the landlordd goes after occupants as they are the ones still occupying the unit.
      3. You could pay the rent and then sue the landlord and the tenants for not minimizing your damages.
      4. Did the landlord provide you with a summary of the landlord and tenants ordinance when you moved in. If not then you can terminate the lease and move out.

      As for the security deposit. At the end of the lease, it is still owed to you. If someone new moves in that person should have to pay a security deposit which can go to you.

      1. All that is stated at the beginning of the lease says “This lease form is intended for properties to which the Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance is applicable. However, the Chicago Association of Realtors recommends that the Ordinance be carefully reviewed and that an attorney be consulted before using this or any other standard lease form for properties in the City of Chicago.”

        The two roommates signed the lease before me, during my signing of the lease, no summary was given to me.

        Should I consult a lawyer?

      2. The law requires that you are provided with an a summary of the lease. The only exceptions are for owner occupied buildings, hotels, motels, coops. I would always suggest consulting with an attorney.

  5. I have been here 6 yrs. Never signed a lease after the first 2 years. Now landlord selling property and new buyers want to live in my unit. What is the time frame that I have before I have to move out? Thank you

    1. You are considered a month-to-month tenant. Therefore the landlord must provide you with a written 30-day notice to vacate. The notice must coincide with the rental period. So if the rental period is from the first to the first then the landlord must provide notice 30 days prior to the first. If not then the notice will extend until the following month. A tenant may be able to make the argument that the landlord needs to resend a new notice.

  6. When is a landlord supposed to give you a copy of a lease you signed? I’m used to getting a copy as soon as I sign a lease, but not for this place. Is there a certain amount of time before it becomes illegal? BTW, I’ve already asked twice and the property manager seems like she can’t give me an answer either. She keeps saying I will get it but it’s been 2 weeks, and still no copy of the lease.

    1. There is no law that covers the question that you asked. The law does state that if you are covered by the landlord and tenants ordinance then the landlord must provide you a summary of the landlord and tenants ordinance which is often attached to the lease. Also if the landlord took a security deposit the landlord is required to provide you with a receipt immediately. Also if the landlord took a security deposit, they have 14 days to inform you of the bank in which your security is being held. This is often done in the lease so the landlord may be in violation of the law on this account.

      The best place to always start is with a written request for the lease.


  7. There are 3 of us on a year lease. My one roommate decided to move out within 24 hours of notifying us. She paid September & October. Our landlord said we must find a replacement or pay the complete rent. Her name is on the lease, even though she left, is she still responsible for her part of the lease? Is there any legality in our favor?

    1. There are several questions here. First, because you and your roommates signed a lease with your landlord you are jointly and severably liable for the rent. This means that the landlord can hold any of you responsible for the entire rent. In most cases the landlord is going to hold the actual people residing in the unit liable because it is the easiest to do. The landlord can evict you if the entire rent is not paid.

      You can hold your roommate liable for the rent though you must make a good faith effort to re-rent the room or unit. If you do not try to rent the unit then you may be liable for the entire rent.

      Finally if you decide to leave then the landlord must also try to re-rent the unit and can hold you and your roommates liable for the time the unit remains vacant.

      1. Why must we make a good faith effort to re-rent the room? She entered the agreement knowing the responsibility of a year long lease. Why should we be responsible for her share regardless of her residency?

      2. State law requires that if a renters terminates a lease early that the landlord must make a good faith effort to mitigate the damages. The question is are you going to want to take your former roommate to court to try and force her to pay. The landlord is most likely going to hold you responsible for the full rent.

  8. Lease on our apartment was on my wife’s name and my name is not in it, we have been living there for 3 years and my Wife passed away. Now my landlord wants to make a new lease and I don’t want to but would just like to continue as it is, because our lease expires in March 1017 and don’t want to get into a new lease for another entire year. the landlord also accepted a one month’s rent already from me from my account but now he wants a new lease. What are my rights?

    1. I would say that you can make a good argument that lease is valid until March 2017. If the landlord is concerned then why not offer to sigh a lease until that date. I am sorry to hear that your wife passed. I think the landlord could be a little more sympathetic.

  9. Hello, I’m looking for a sublease on my apartment, since I cannot afford to end my lease wary. The management company told me that the tenant “typically” finds the subletter, despite my pointing out their good faith obligation. Further more, I am unable to advertise my unit on most apartment hunting websites, since my management has paid subscriptions to these sites and I am thus barred from posting. Is there anything I can do?

    1. i am not sure what the best approach to your situation will be. I am not sure why you want to move and if you have any flexibility in the moving date. Did the management company attach a summary of the landlord and tenants ordinance to your lease? If not you can terminate your lease for that reason. I am not sure why you cannot post your rental unit sublet on Craig’s list. Is there a clause in your lease that forbids it? If so it may be an illegal clause. If you do move, the landlord will have to demonstrate that they tried to re-rent it. Is there a way to negotiate a move it. Offer the landlord half a month’s rent to end the lease. Why are you terminating the lease? Are there repair problems? You could possibly terminate the lease in this case if you follow some rules.

  10. Hello

    I also wanted to mention that the RLTO I received turned out to be an outdated version, namely it is missing some bullet points that became effective in 2010. Does this help make a case to break the lease as well?

    Thank you again,

  11. Hello my question is regarding the RLTO given at the signing of a lease. My landlord did provide the RLTO summary, there is an addendum to our lease that also states that “the lessor has provided tenant with a copy of the applicable Landlord/Tenant Ordinance Summary”. I signed this addendum as well.

    I however did not receive the Security Deposit Interest Rate Summary which I believe is a separate document? Nowhere in the lease or the addendum states the current or previous years’ interest rates.

    My question is whether or not this will hold up as a reason to break my lease? I’m concerned and would like to know if the Landlord / Tenant Ordinance Summary referenced in the addendum also includes the Interest Rates page.

    Thank you in advance for your help!

  12. I have a tenant who is constantly smoking week in his apartment. This is one of 4 total apartments, which are over a pharmacy and several doctors offices. It is very annoying to the other tenants as well as – well trying to run a pharmacy with pot in the air is not easy. I have asked the tenant nicely several times to refrain from the behavior in my building. Other tenants have also complained about the annoyance. I am holding no security deposit on him, nor does he currently have a lease. He did have a lease originally, but it expired and I never wrote a new one. He pays every month – after I remind him. On top of all this, a few months ago he moved a dog – a pit bull into the apartment without my knowledge. I found out from my employee who saw him walking the dog every morning. I confronted him and he told me the dog was temporary. It’s been several months now. The building is a non-smoking, no pets building. He has lived there 2.5 years. I asked him to move out as he is destroying the reputation of my business as well as the right to a habitable home life for the other tenants. He is a nice person, so I told him he does not have to pay the rent for December. I just want him to move. Do I have any rights?

    1. Yes you have rights. It is best if you begin to put your expectations in writing. In a month to month situation either the landlord or the tenant can provide a written 30 day notice to terminate the lease. The 30 days need to coincide with the rental period so if rent period is the first to the first the tenant needs to have the notice prior to the first. Neither party has to have a reason to terminate the agreement. If the tenant does not leave then the landlord will have to take the tenant to eviction court. Any time there is court proceedings it is best to have an attorney. Hopefully the tenant will take your generous offer of a free months rent to get out. In general it is best to part on good terms and to avoid court.

  13. I leased an apartment that includes a separate storage space for bikes in the building. It is part of my rental, as there was no charge for this storage space and I was told I could store my bikes in this space with no charge, when I rented my place. The bikes are stored in a common room with lots of bike racks. Recently, in the middle of my lease agreement, the building decided to start charging for bike storage without reducing my monthly rental, as this was already included in my monthly rental payments. It is therefore an increase of rental in the middle of my rental agreement.

    Where should I complaint about this rental increase in the middle of my lease agreement. Please provide phone number and address. Thanks.

    1. A first step would be to put your complaint in writing to the landlord stating that you have not agreed to change the lease. The lease agreement included the free bicycle storage. Therefore you want an reduction in rent or a pass to park your bike there until the lease is up.

      You may have to involve an attorney, if the landlord does not agree. Are there other tenants in the same situation. You may want to get everyone together and send a joint letter to owner.

  14. I have tenants who are consistently late with the rent even though they are paying me electronically. They treat the 5th day of the month as the 1st. Up to now, I have given them until the 5th of the month before notifying them to pay or vacate within 5 days. The late fee associated with the lease also kicks in if the rent is not received by the 5th. I have been receiving the late fees when they pay after the 5th, but I am trying to encourage them to pay on or before the 1st as the lease requires. My question is this: The rent is considered late if not received by the 1st correct? I could be issuing this notice on the 2nd correct? My assumption is that if the rent is received after the 1st it is late and after the 5th it is subject to a late fee. Is that correct? When is the earliest a pay or vacate notice can be issued?

    1. What does the lease state? There are no laws that govern when rent is considered late. It needs to be defined in the rental agreement. If your question is can you make a rental agreement in which the rent is due on the first and if the rent is not paid on the first then a 5 day notice will be issued, you can.

      My suggestion would be to meet with the tenants and to see why they are paying you on the fifth. There may or may not be reasons behind it. Some people get paid on the first and have to deposit the check and wait a few days for the check to clear the bank. Have you explained to them why you need the rent earlier?

  15. Also, what if the landlord broke the following ordinances stated in the ‘Residential Landlords & Tenants’ pamplet under the ‘Security Deposits’ category (page 6):


    1. If the building is covered by the landlord and tenants ordinance and the landlord has not complied with any section of the ordinance, the landlord is in violation of the ordinance and can be held liable for penalties of twice the deposit plus attorney fees. Because the landlord is in violation this can be used as leverage to get the full return of your deposit.

  16. Does the landlord have to return your security deposit 45 days after your written lease ends (eg. Oct 31st) or the day you vacated the apartment (eg. Oct 1st)? I notified my landlord I was moving out on the 1st even though I still had the apartment for the whole month (with that last month paid in full).

    1. I do not know of any court decision on this matter so you will have to contact an attorney. Have you spoken with the landlord? If so what has the landlord said in this regards?

  17. Hi,
    The property management that bought my apt. building wants to move me before my lease ends in March 2013, in order to do a rehab(kitchen,bath, central heat and air, washer dryer etc. turn a large one bedroom into a 2 bedroom). They want to begin the construction in December 2012.

    The offered me unit around the corner in the same building, a 2 bedroom for $100 more than my current rent or in one of their other buildings. There wasn’t a unit that works for me so I looked for a replacement on my own.

    They said they would help me out with some money to make it easier for me since they really want me to leave so they can begin the rehab. ( I am the only tenant with a lease every one else is on a month to month)

    The problem is…I work from home and the current construction that they have already started is becoming very disruptive to my working. If I stay, it means I would have to deal with more invasive type construction for the duration of my lease. Which will not work for me.

    Also, I found out that they don’t allow dogs in any of their buildings( i have 2) I feel that we are no longer a fit…and I would like compensation for my troubles. $2500

    Is it reasonable to ask for them to give me moving fees( estimate was between 500-700) and to pay the difference of my new rent at a place I found for the remainder of my lease( $1800; 450 extra each of the 4 months left) Since this was sprung on me, I would have to take an unscheduled time off work/lost of client…which is approximately $1500 for the week need to move and set up my new office in a new place. In total about $4000, but I am only asking the to pay me $2500.

    Is there anything in the tenant rights that would help me in this situation?


    1. There is certainly nothing wrong with demanding that the owner give yo compensation for their failure to abide by the terms of the lease. You may want to contact an attorney to help you with negotiations.

      In general unless you signed a lease with a separate clause not buried in all the other clauses that allows the landlord to terminate the lease early, the landlord cannot terminate the lease early without your permission.

      You also have some rights in regards to allowing the landlord access to your unit. The law states the tenant must give the landlord reasonable access to make necessary or agreed upon repairs. There has not been a definitive court ruling stating whether a rehab is necessary but there is an argument that it is not and that therefor the landlord does not have a right to enter your unit to make those changes/upgrades.

      You may want to talk with other tenants in the building, if everyone stands together it may be easier to get the landlord to agree to pay compensation costs for moving. If you want help in this aspect you can call our hotline and request the assistance of a tenant organizer. The hotline number is 773-292-4988.

  18. I have been living in my apartment for 5 1/2 months, and several requests to fix a leaking roof have gone unresolved. The landlord made one poor attempt at fixing it and many promises after, but it’s still not fixed. Are the text message conversations with him sufficient notice to break the lease or does there need to be a paper letter that specifically says “I’m going to move if the problem is not fixed in 14 days”?

    I also did not receive a copy of the tenants’ ordinance, so i will use that if necessary. I don’t want to stay with this landlord even if he does suddenly decide to fix the roof.


    1. The Chicago law allows tenants to terminate a lease if the landlord did not provide the renter with a summary of the ordinance. You would need to be out of the unit within 30 days of giving the notice.

  19. I have lived in my apartment for almost three months. The only paperwork that I have completed is a basic information sheet. I have not signed a lease. My boyfriend and I now feel that the apartment is too small and would like to move. When I asked the landlord if he had another apartment avaliable he threatened to put an eviction on my credit report. Do I have the right to move out if I provide a letter with a months notice (I pay rent monthly)? Can he do anything to my credit report?

    Also, none of the rear doors (there are four) have locks and the fire escape has a broken window which we can not open to gain access. It is the only other exit in my apartment. The windows do not have screens and the front closet is missing a door.

    1. In answer to you first question about moving, if you have a month to month agreement (verbal agreements in most all cases are month to month agreements) the law allows you to terminate the agreement and move out by giving at least a 30-day written notice to terminate the agreement and move out. The notice must coincide with the rental period, meaning if you pay rent for the first to the first then you have to give the notice at least 30 days prior to the first and the day the landlord receives the notice does not count.

      As for the repairs, you can call 311 and request an inspection. The window should open. Screens are only required in Chicago on the third floor and below.

  20. I gave my Landlord 14 days notice that I was not renewing my lease when it expired. There were 4 of us on the lease. 3 moved out, one tenant stayed. It is now over 70 days and my landlord will not return our security deposit until the 4th tenant moves out next month. I did not renew the lease, it expired, and did not sign a new lease. No notification was given to us at the end of our lease (or even 45 days later) regarding damages. Is the landlord legally allowed to keep our security deposit and apply it to the 4th tenants lease extension?

    1. In most cases, when multiple people sign a lease they are jointly and severably liable for fulfillment of the contract. Is the 4th tenant paying rent and living month to month on lease that you signed. Has the 4th tenant allowed the landlord in to assess damage and make repairs? What arrangements were made with the 4th tenant and what has the 4th tenant told the landlord?

      Has a new lease been signed by the new people living there? If so this would demonstrate that the lease is finished.

      You will need to contact an attorney to go over the details of what has happened and who is responsible.

  21. I signed a 1 year lease for an apartment June 1 2012. When the place was shown to me on a move-in date, switch plate covers were missing, walls/doors/baseboards were dirty and the back door lock was not functioning (the landlord asked me to not open the door). All of the above were present when I was shown the place by realtor but he ensured me they would be fixed before I move in.

    After living there for a few days and spending lots of hours cleaning the place, I discovered: dirty dishes in the dishwasher from previous tenants, AC was not working (simple battery replacement), light bulb needed to be replaced, etc. A week after my move in, the baseboard and door painting was scheduled so the landlord HAD to open the back door, and it took 2 men and lots of time to close it.

    On that day I specifically requested that he made repairs to the back door/lock that is apparently not working properly. Finally, and only after my angry emails/texts 2 weeks from the date of painting, a carpenter showed up to determine the necessary repairs. I asked him what happened, and his answer was “looks like someone was trying to break in”. This kind of news doesn’t make anyone feel safe and comfortable… So my question is – can I ask for rent reduction due to the condition of the place? Is my landlord in any way responsible for not repairing the back door for 3+ weeks? Do I need to send him a 14-day notice letter?

    Also, given all of that, I have a suspicion he never changed the locks upon the previous tenants’ move out.

    I don’t feel safe at my own apartment and still have all of my stuff in the storage because I’m afraid someone is going to break in…

    What are my options here?

    1. If the unit is not fit to live in then you could and ask the landlord to terminate the tenancy. If there are minor repairs, the law allows a tenant to make repairs and deduct the cost from the rent after giving the landlord the a written notice. As for the keys to the unit, there is no law that requires the landlord to change locks in between tenancies. Have you asked the landlord whether it would be possible to change the locks.

  22. Can my landlord force me out of my apartment if he just gave me a notice of nonrenewal on June 19, 2012 and my lease ends June 30, 2012? That it’s not enough time for me to find a place. Then my landlord sends me an email last night after ten at night and says he rented out my apartment and the new tenant wants to move in on July 1, 2012. Do I have to move?

    1. If you pay rent on a monthly basis, live in Chicago and are covered by the Chicago Landlord and Tenants Ordinance, then the landlord must give you at least a 30 day written notice when not renewing the lease.

  23. We just recently moved into a home. The neighborhood is absolutely terrible. It did not appear. That bad when my husband came to view the house. There is groups of guys selling drugs in front of the place all the time. We signed a 2 year lease and need to break it asap. Do we have any leg to stand on?

    1. There is no simple solution to this. MTO always suggests that tenants observe the neighborhood at night prior to signing a lease as that will generally offer a better glimpse of the area to see if you will feel safe. Have you spoken with the landlord about this situation. You did not mention where this home is and whether the landlord lives on the premises. There could potentially be some ways to terminate the lease if the landlord did not follow Chicago’s lease laws.

  24. My brother rented an apartment to a friend of his, the building is a two flat in Chicago. The friend two weeks later brought his girl friend to live with him. A few months later the girl friend brought two of her children, one child a daughter twenty years old came on occassion and began staying more regularly after becoming pregnant. The other child eighteen brought his pregnant girlfriend who stayed several nights a week. His friend finally could not deal with a the girl friend and her daughter and decided to move; leaving the girl friend and her children. He originally had an oral agreement to rent to his friend. The so called friend told my brother that’s not his problem any more.

    1. It seems like your brother is going to need an attorney. Did your brother know about the people moving in? If so that may be a problem. Your brother’s friend is not off the hook. The law requires that a tenant provide a 30 day written notice to terminate a tenancy. Did the friend do that? It could be argued that the friend will be liable for the rent until the unit is vacated and returned to your brother. Is your brother receiving rent? Has he been paid for June? If not then your brother can give the people there a 5 day pay or vacate notice. Has your brother spoken with the people there?

  25. I rently signed a lease which begins on June 1st. I have a 4 bed 4 bath apartment and there are two current occupants of two of the bedrooms. One is signing a sublease with me the other was on a month to month with the landlord. The landlord told me that their lease was void when i signed the lease. I want the month to month residents room for my friend and told him that I need the room by july 1st. What rights do i have in getting him out in 30 days or sooner?

    1. he basically said he wasnt leaving until August and that he has an agreement with the landlord

    2. This is not an easy problem to give you advice on partly because I do not know what actions the owner has taken regarding the tenant who will not move. The previous tenant’s right to occupy do not end with you signing a lease. The landlord needed to have given the tenant a termination notice. Was this done? If not then the tenant needs to be given a notice to vacate. If the tenant was served with a notice to vacate and did not vacate then the tenant needs to be taken to court and legally evicted.

      A larger legal question arises once you move in and take over control of the unit, and that is are you now responsible for evicting the tenant. There would be fewer legal complications if you not move in and demand that the landlord fulfill the contract. In answer to your question about rights to get him out sooner than July 1. That all depends on the notice the landlord has given the tenant. the rental agreement the tenant has with the owner. It is probably unlikely. You should really see an attorney.

  26. Hello John,

    We would like to consult you about the “move in-out” related problem.

    We recently sign a contract for our new place in Chicago. There is currently another tenant lives in our prospective apartment. He is moving out on 6/30 and we are moving in 7/1. We have to move in by 7/1 because we don’t have any other place to stay.

    We are wondering what are the owner’s responsibilities for their new tenants? Does the owner require to clean/paint the apartment before new tenants move in? We are expecting a baby and sterility is our major concern for our new place.

    Please advise,



    1. As for painting that should be negotiated with the owner prior to signing the lease. There are no laws that require an owner to paint unless there is chipping or peeling paint or if there are lead hazards present.

      The owner should provide you with a sanitary unit. There is no definition. I would encourage you to take photographs of the unit when you move in. Have you spoken with the landlord about their plans for cleaning. Maybe the current tenants will do a good job. Have you spoken with the tenants to find out what their intentions are?

      You mentioned that you are expecting a newborn. Congratulations! I do not know the age of the building but lead poisoning is still a problem in Chicago. Lead hazards are closely associated with older wooden windows that have lead paint. It is not just chipping paint. The friction from opening and closing windows can create dust which can poison your child.

  27. I reside in my childhood home, a two-flat that I’ve lived in all my life. I’ve been paying rent each month on time. I don’t have a witten lease. I gave my 30 day notice however the place I am moving to is not ready. I had/have every intent on moving by the first of this month. I”m hoping to be moved out soon. My landlord wants me out and has threatened me. I’m also physically handicapped, I use a wheelchair beacuse I can’t walk. If she forces me to leave, I will have no place to go. I’m waiting on the place due to some issues being rsolved with my paperwork. What rights do I have as a tenant uder these unique conditions? Because I haven’t left yet, do I owe her rent and a late fee?

    1. The landlord cannot just throw you out. The landlord would still have to take you to court even though you gave notice. The landlord may be able to say that you are a hold over tenant and charge you double. The landlord would have to demonstrate that it was intentional. Yes the law would require that you pay rent for the time that you are there. What is up with your new apartment?

  28. Our landlord has raised the price for two bedroom apartment to $45.00 more per moths. Both of us is on SSI ( supplemental social security), . This year Social Security raised $25.00 from $674.00 to $698.00/months. When we signed the lease, there was no explanation( perhaps, we don’t understand) as of why our subsidized rent went to $50.00 more.Actually, all Social Security increase ($25 for each) went to the paying for the apartment. WE are not working, and have no additional source of income. They take into account 3% of income, what what percent they used, we don’t know
    Is that correct calculation toward renewing lease?

    1. There are many different types of subsidy programs. Without knowing the type and whether the rent is tied to your income it is impossible to answer such a question. A landlord does not have to have a reason for increasing the rent. Many do it on principle. The landlord is required to give you written notice of the increase.

  29. Hello John,

    I submitted this inquiry to the hotline online, though perhaps it belongs in this forum for others to see. My fiance and I are renting a 2 bedroom apartment in Chicago. She was offered a job in Minneapolis with 4 months left on the lease. After informing the landlord, he stated that we are responsible for finding a subtenant and would need to perform a credit and background check.

    Bottom line: we have found the perfect subtenant with great credit and no evictions, liens, bankruptcies or criminal record. We have a sublease ready to go, but our landlord has suddenly gone silent on the issue and refuses to answer our repeated written and e-mailed inquiries to move this along and provide his consent. Question: how long can he withold consent on this very reasonable sublease, and if he doesn’t respond what are our remedies? Can we move forward on a sublease without his consent, or do can we vacate the unit?

    I would appreciate your thoughts on the matter.


    1. Under the Chicago Ordinance the landlord must accept all reasonable sub-tenants. If the landlord does not then the landlord would be in violation of the Landlord and Tenants Ordinance. It is best to have everything documented, including credit checks, notification of the landlord, etc.

      I cannot answer the second question because I do not know what the lease states in regards to subtenants. Some leases require a landlord’s approval in which case you cannot just go ahead and sublet without that approval.


  30. I wrote before…my landlord threatened to evict me because I told her to leave me the “f” alone. That was after she turned off the heat(she says it is to save environment but I know it’s just about the money, half of which I pay!), threatening me with eviction. Disparaging my ethnicity, etc. She also complains about me being noisy which isn’t true. I am gone from the house from 5am to 10 pm. So I am barely there.

    I now want to break the lease, the only problem is- I’m one of the exceptions and I odn’t think I am covered under the ordinance. My landlord owns a condo and I rent a room in her condo. Signed a lease until May 2013.

    I want to break it for my own sanity and happiness and the fact that having heat would be a nice thing to have.

    I recently found out that she isn’t supposed to be renting. I introduced myself to the Condo board president and she was shocked to find out that my landlord was renting when their condo laws state it is not allowed.

    Does this mean I might be able to get out of my lease since my landlord had me sign a contract she had no right to make?

    the condo board is actually behind me 100%. They all dislike my landlord…but just want to be sure my landlord can’t sue me…she loves telling me one minute she can evict me anytime and the next…she’ll sue me if I leave…

    Am hoping this little law the condo has about not allowing renters is a good reason to break the lease since having no heat doesn’t seem to be enough.

    1. You cannot break your lease with the landlord because the condo association has a rule that would not permit your landlord to rent the unit. It is up to the condo board to enforce that rule. It is not a violation of City law or of your lease. You might want to try mediation to resolve this. The Center for Conflict Resolution may be able to help. Any agreement to terminate should be in writing.

  31. Hi John,

    I live in Chicago in an apartment with my girlfriend. We signed a lease and moved in 12/1/2011. At lease signing time, we discussed doing a 15 month lease to get back on a more favorable rental cycle. My landlord accidentally wrote 3/31/12 as the lease end date instead of 3/31/13. This is actually to our benefit as we hate the apartment (it is run-down, dirty, and drafty) and want to move anyway. As long as we give 30 days notice, can we move out scot-free and recoup our security deposit? Is there any way the landlord can come after us for this, citing a verbal agreement for 15 months? Is the lease the almighty ruler in this case?



    1. I think it is best to have an attorney look over the agreement and see if there is anything else in it that might present a different perspective. The law is suppose to interpret the lease in the favor of the person who did not write it which in this case is the you, the tenant. Written agreements are suppose to take precedent over all previous verbal agreements.

  32. I live in Chicago. My landlord does not cash my rent checks in a timely manner. Currently, there are 5 rent checks uncashed; one is from over 9 months ago. One check was even sent back by the post office marked as “return to sender”! Do tenants have any rights regarding cashing checks?

    1. Have you spoken with the landlord about this problem? Does the landlord want the money? Did you receive a receipt for the payment? Always good to have. There are no tenant laws that detail the situation that you find yourself in. I believe that are some bank laws regarding from how long ago a bank will cash a check.


  33. Hi,

    I am needing to break my lease and found a suitable tenant, with less than stellar credit, but who had the financial suitability and also, received decent renter’s history and was verified by his previous landlord.

    However, my current landlord rejected their application with arbitrary requirements. They said they didn’t have a minimum credit score requirement, and wouldn’t provide any concrete terms.

    They told me I could pay two months’ rent, but I feel like I’m being taken advantage of.


    1. Did the landlord ask you for the same information and put you through the same hoops. If so then the landlord might have a right to ask for this information.


  34. I live in Schaumburg IL and I need to move out of my apartment as I am having money problems. I have 6 months left on my lease and would like to end it. I have asked the people in the leasing office is there any way I can break the lease (paying two months’ rent and leaving) and they said no. I was informed the only way is that I could sublease it out, but the person had to apply and had do to a background check and had to qualify (credit score and income) to move in. I was told that if they do meet everything then the people subleasing would be renting the apartment and would sign a new lease and my lease would be void. But the kicker is that I, the renter, would have to find the subleaser. With all the research I have been doing on subleasing I understand that the landlord needs to know and approve it but I keep running into info saying with subleasing, it the subleaser and the renter (lease holder) that has the agreements and not with the apartment complex. Is this right? I don’t want to go through the motions of finding someone and they don’t qualify and I have to start all over again, if all I have to do is let them know I am moving and they would have to find someone for me. Thanks for your help.

  35. Hi,
    I live in Chicago. When I signed my lease, I signed some kind of Illinois Rental Agreement that says that my landlord does not have to pay interest each year on my security deposit because there are only a few units in the building. But the Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance says that my landlord is required to pay interest each year or else I am owed 2 times the deposit amount. Can you tell me which agreement is valid, the Chicago one or the Illinois one says that I’m owed 2 times the deposit and the other (Illinois) says that I’m not owed it. If the Chicago agreement takes precedent over the Illinois one, should I just ask the landlord to give me twice the deposit and if he does not do it them do I just file a claim in court? Also, what is a good estimate of what “reasonable” attorney’s fees would be if I had to hire an attorney to handle this for me? Thanks for your help!

    1. If the landlord does not live on the premises, then the Chicago Ordinance applies. You can write a letter asking for twice the deposit. If the landlord does not agree then you will have to go to court. If you go to court it would be best to consult with and possibly hire and attorney. In which case you can ask for reasonable attorney fees. It us up to the judge to determine reasonable attorney fees.

  36. I signed a lease to begin on Aug1. The tenants in the apartment’s lease ends Aug31. What legal rights do I have? Do I need to contact an attorney?


    1. It sounds as if the owner made a large error. What is it that you want. The landlord is responsible for the mistake. I would think it will be difficult if not impossible to get the tenants out if they have a lease through the end of the month unless they have not followed the law. I would figure out what you want and then contact the owner. Below is the law in regards to failure to deliver possession. Yes it would be a good to contact an attorney.

      Failure To Deliver Possession. If the landlord fails to deliver possession of the dwelling unit to the tenant in compliance with the residential rental agreement or Section 5-12-070, rent for the dwelling unit shall abate until possession is delivered, and the tenant may:

      (1) upon written notice to the landlord, terminate the rental agreement and upon termination the landlord shall return all prepaid rent and security; or

      (2) demand performance of the rental agreement by the landlord and, if the tenant elects, maintain an action for possession of the dwelling unit against the landlord or any person wrongfully in possession and recover the damages sustained by him.

      If a person’s failure to deliver possession is wilful, an aggrieved person may recover from the person withholding possession an amount not more than two months’ rent or twice the actual damages sustained by him, whichever is greater.

  37. Hello,
    I live in 5 unit building, and have a one-year lease, set to expire August 1st. In January, I asked my landlord to let my brother move into the apartment. My landlord agreed, with the stipulation that I give him a signed, statement agreeing that my brother would vacate by April 1st, and I would be responsible for any repercussions, should he violate the agreement. When my brother’s plan for housing fell through, I told him that he could spend the weekend, and leave Monday, April 4th. When the landlord called me on Sunday, the 3rd, he got upset, and told me that he would charge me $40 per day, for every day my brother was in the apartment. He said I could pay now, or have the money deducted from my security deposit. I haven’t spoken to him since then, and I’m worried about being able to stay in the apartment until my lease is up. This leaves me wondering…

    -If he plans to serve me with a notice to move, is he obligated to do so within a specific number of days, from the date that he was made aware that I violated my lease?

    -I plan on paying rent for the month of May. If I do so, can he accept the rent, and still give me anotice to move?

    Thanks for your help,

    -If I pay

  38. Hi,

    I live in Chicago and I have a problem. I rented a house and I never moved in and I really don’t want to. I am in a 2 year lease and I want out of the lease. I signed it on 1/26/2011 and today is 1/30/2011. The landlord said that everything in the house was new but, that’s not even close to true. I feel the floor as though it’s sinking or giving in. I’m not sure if the floor will hold me and I am fearful. I just want out so, what can I do? Once again I don’t want this place and i have not moved in. Can I get my money back?

    1. Leases are not that easy to get out of. If the unit is covered by the Chicago landlord and tenants ordinance then the landlord has to provide you with a summary of the ordinance. If you did not receive that upon signing the lease then you can terminate the lease. If the unit is not reasonably fit and habitable then you can give the landlord a letter stating the problems and giving the landlord 14 days to fix the problems and if they are not fixed then you can terminate the lease. If unit is not ready for habitation then you can send the owner a letter stating the problems and that it is not ready and therefore you are not taking possession of the unit and are in fact terminating the lease. I would suggest that you consult with an attorney to make sure that you are covered and the situations you are experiencing are serious enough that you can terminate the lease.

      1. Mr. Bartlett,

        Is it that cut-and-dry? My landlord did not give me a summary with my lease. I want to move out, but don’t think I have any other grounds at all to terminate the lease. Is the lack of a summary irrefutable grounds to terminate my lease early? I’ve read the RLTO and it does apply to my building. Thanks.

      2. The law is cut and dry. The details can sometimes be difficult to prove in that how do you prove that you did not receive the summary. I would start by reading the lease to make sure that no where does it state that you received the summary. I would make sure the summary is not written into the lease. You might want to talk with an attorney to see if there are some other ways that would help you to document the landlord’s failing to follow the law. Then you need to write a letter to the landlord stating that you did not receive a summary of the ordinance and that you are going to terminate your lease as a result. You might want to cite the citation in the law. You have to move within 30 days of the landlord’s receipt of the letter.

      3. Thanks very much for your response. In our lease, there is a section of “Further Acknowledgments By Tenant” which lists 3 other documents they supplied us along with the lease (radon and lead info, heat estimates, etc.) which we had to sign and in the Further Acknowledgments section we marked with my initials that we had received them. Do you think that because those acknowledgments are there and initialed, but there is no mention of an RLTO summary, that that might help us to prove that we never received it? I just want to be sure there’s no other technicality that our landlord could find that would result in our lease termination backfiring if he should decide to take us to court over it or something. Thanks again!

  39. Hi, thanks for this info! I just had a quick question. My landlord has an illegal clause in my lease saying that I can’t sublet the apartment. I’ve talked to them and they said that I cannot sublet directly, I must get someone to entirely take over my lease and sign an agreement with them. They further said that they will not help me find someone to replace me, even though they are supposed to under the RLTO.

    My question is, what are the consequences for them? Can I stop paying rent when I move out since they are not living up to their end of the bargain?

    1. If you are covered by the Chicago Landlord and Tenants Ordinance, then the landlord is required to accept a sublet. The landlord does not have to let you out of the lease so if the sublettor does not pay then you will be liable the rent.

      Illinois law requires that the landlord try and mitigate your damages. If they do not then you could possibly say that you are not liable for the rent. If the landlord put an ad in the paper that may be considered sufficient and you could be held liable for cost of the ad.

      If you do not pay the rent, the landlord can sue for damages (the rent).

  40. I recently gave a deposit down for a condo that I was planning to rent but I didn’t feel comfortable with renting the place because the current tenant who was living there had about 8 people in his condo on the day of the showing and I couldn’t see the place and I didn’t feel like I saw the place properly. I scheduled another showing a week later, but because i was feeling pressured into renting the place so the same day I saw it the first saw the unit I was asked to write 3 checks to secure the unit. I wrote one check for the 1st mths rent, one check for the move in fee and one check for the condo association’s credit check. Prior to the next showing, about a week later, I decided that I didn’t want to rush into anything and I wrote and email to the realtor and the leasing agent and told them I was not interested in renting the unit and to please send me my checks back. The leasing agent told my realtor that he shredded my checks, but I didn’t believe him. The very next day after he said that, I noticed that he deposited one of my checks for $500 for the “move in fee”. when I asked him about it, he said it was for “Damages” caused because they were unable to rent the unit for Nov 1st. I found out the same day in the evening, the unit was rented by another tenant for Nov 1st. The leasing agent never informed me that he was going to deposit my check, nor did he give me any information about the owner, his address or contact information in writing and did not give me anything in writing stating he was going to deposit my check and why. Can he do that and do you think I can fight to get my money back? I’m so angry about the whole thing because the guy lied about shredding my checks and then deposited one. I never signed a lease or anything else so I never committed to anything.

    1. Without seeing all the documents that you signed it is impossible to provide you with a complete answer. In the case of credit check fees if the company ran the credit check then you are most likely liable for the cost of that fee. As for the move in fee, what did the contract you sign state the fee was for? You did not move in so did the landlord experience any costs because you said you were going to especially given that someone is moving in the same day and paying the same fee. The same goes for the first month’s rent. The landlord would only be able to charge you for costs incurred for re-renting the unit. I cannot see what those costs may be.

      There are several steps that you can take. You could start with a letter demanding the move in fee be returned immediately because you did not move in so how can you be charged a fee for something that you did not do especially considering there has been no cost to the owner as someone else is scheduled to move in the same day as you. You could seek the help of an an attorney which may cost money but when dealing with legal issues it is almost always best to seek legal advice.

      1. Thanks John,
        I actually didn’t sign any sort of contract or lease. They guy at the company who said he shredded all of my checks and then deposited one of them told me it was for “Losses and damages” incurred on the property. Later that same day, my realtor told me the unit was rented to another person for the same day I was supposed to move in. I spoke to a lawyer and we typed up a letter which I am going to send tomorrow. Hopefully they will refund my money. What jerks. They had no reason to deposit my checks without even telling me about it and lying to me about shredding them. I’ll keep you posted!

  41. Hello, Me, My wife and 2yr old moved into a Chicago apartment just last month. It is a 2 flat with our apartment being on the 2nd floor. The landlord lives in his house which is next door.

    We have a washer and dryer that is included in the rent ( it is not a coin operated one, its free and included in the rent ) that we share with the lady down stairs. Upon the 3rd day of moving in, comed shut her power off and the washer and dryer did not work, the landlord ran a extension cord and powered them off my line, from there on i noticed that the outdoor lighting, outdoor power outlets, hallways lights are all on my line ( only 2 breaker boxes in basement ) the lady downstairs pays for the washer and dryer. I was never informed of this and on top of that, they leave the outdoor lights on ALL night every night ( and these are LARGE powered lights )

    On top of that, the roof leaks in 3 places, he attempted to fix it once with some roof sealer which i know and he knows wouldnt work but he did it just to shut me up and then decided to go on vacation. The problem is still there and almost damaged all of my electronics and now i have a 12″ rotting hole in my ceiling drywall.

    Also, the apartment has no deadbolt locks, only doorknob locks, i asked him about it and he said no need for them. The apartment also has NO front entry door downstairs, just screen door. There is really no form of protection at all but a simple doorknob lock.

    Now the refrigerator is on its last leg and sounds like a dieing animal..Once again he is on vacation…

    The problem is i think is that this unit has not been rented in a long time ( months….) and it really needs a lot of work that he just covered up and now that i can see it in detail i can see all the problems it has and i doubt he is going to fix anything.

    Also, there is no lease…He says there is no need for one as long as i pay him. Also he does not give out receipts for when you pay rent, he says if you want a receipt then write a check and make a copy of the check, thats the receipt.

    Everything about him and this place is starting to really turn sour. What can i do? I put down a 2,000.00 security deposit on a place that looks like it needs 20,000.00 in work done, has no security, stealing electric and has leaking roof….. any advice?

    1. From you letter it is not completely clear if the owner lives on the same property as you or is it a totally separate lot. More to the point does the City of Chicago consider them one property. If they are considered separate properties then you are covered by the landlord and tenants ordinance. In either case you should not have to pay for the washer and dryer as that is a common utility and should be the landlord’s responsibility. You could write the owner a letter stating that it is illegal and he needs to reimburse you for the cost of the electricity.

      As for the repairs you can call the city and request an inspection. They will cite him. If you are covered by the landlord and tenants ordinance you could write the landlord a letter listing the problems and demanding that they be remedied and in the letter state that you will hire someone to make the repairs and deduct the cost from the rent. So you could hire someone to put deadbolts which are required by on your apartment doors. You do have to give the landlord 14 days from the receipt of the letter to fix things. It is best to send the letter certified.

      A dying refrigerator may not be something that you can take action on. If it keeps your food cold that is all that it has to do. You will probably have to wait until it dies.

  42. My roommate and I signed a lease electronically for an August 1 start date for a 12 month lease. I have been in the apartment for 2 years, so this was the start of the third year. She is new.

    A month after we signed the lease, the building was sold and we are now owned by a company with lots of properties and lots of bad reviews online. They are also quite disorganized.

    We just received a letter from the new management company that our old lease “expired” and we are now on a month to month basis. In fact, our lease should go until July 31, 2011. The letter essentially says that this is fine as long as we continue to pay our rent.

    My question is: is this legal? I didn’t believe that a lease could expire, and I smell a dirty trick of some sort.

    What are some of the things we should watch out for if we choose to remain on a month to month lease? Are we safer (legally) if we sign a regular 12 month lease? I am tempted to stay month to month until I see how well this management company cares for the building and responds to maintenance requests.


    1. A problem that you could encounter by claiming that you are on a month to month agreement is what happens if the new management company suddenly finds the past lease agreement. Then you are bound by that agreement. If you want to go to a month to month agreement, you could ask the company to send you a written agreement stating that you are on a month to month agreement. This would be the safest manner. If you would prefer to be on the electronically signed lease, that lease is valid if you can document it. You could find the email that you sent or get the old management company to confirm the lease. I would start this process by sending the new management team a letter stating that you have a current lease signed in August. If you sign a new lease that would void the old lease.

  43. I currently have a friend who is in a rather unfortunate predicament. She has just moved into a three-bedroom apartment where only one of the occupants is on the lease. When she mentioned adding herself to the lease this person told her that he’d prefer to keep the lease in his name because he feels it is “his” apartment. She is worried that this leaves her with no legal support should he wish to make her move out at any time. I should also mention that the roommate with the lease is also a new occupant, meaning that he just recently signed said lease and neglected to give the other two occupants a chance to sign. So my questions are:

    Does she have a right as a fellow occupant to be on the lease?

    Does this roommate with the lease have the right to make her leave should he choose to do so?

    1. No there is no law that would require your friend to be a part of the lease.
      Your friend is on a month to month agreement and her roommate could ask her to leave by giving her a 30 day notice to terminate the tenancy. the notice has to coincide with the rental period. The roommate would have to take the her to court and follow all the rules of eviction.

  44. I am a disabled person who just had surgery on July 8th. Sometime during the recovery the landlords sent me a new lease to sign because my lease is up September 30th. I thought I signed and mailed the lease but I am not sure anymore (very difficult recovery). Today, Sept 21st I received a letter wishing me good luck on my move September 30th-in a threatening, aggressive way. According to the law below- can I pay them the month of Oct. and move November 1st since they did not give me reasonable notice of 30 days? What are my rights? I do not know if I sent the lease and they are saying they didn’t receive it obviously… I cannot move in 9 days due to health reasons.
    Thanks so much!
    (j) Notice of Refusal to Renew Rental Agreement. Provided that the landlord has not exercised, or is not in the process of exercising, any of its rights under Section 5-12-130 (a) — (h) hereof, the landlord shall notify the tenant in writing at least 30 days prior to the stated termination date of the rental agreement of the landlord’s intent either to terminate a month to month tenancy or not to renew an existing rental agreement. If the landlord fails to give the required written notice, the tenant may remain in the dwelling unit for up to 60 days after the date on which such required written notice is given to the tenant, regardless of the termination date specified in the existing rental agreement. During such occupancy, the terms and conditions of the tenancy (including, without limitation, the rental rate) shall be the same as the terms and conditions during the month of tenancy immediately preceding the notice; provided, however, that if rent was waived or abated in the preceding month or months as part of the original rental agreement, the rental amount during such 60 day period shall be at the rate established on the last date that a full rent payment was made. (Prior Code §193.1-13; Added Council Journal of Proceedings, September 8, 1986, page 33771; Amend, Council Journal of Proceedings, November 6, 1991, page 7215)

    1. A couple of thoughts: First is to let them know that you are disabled and went through serious operation. It is your belief that you in fact did sign the lease, sent it in via the US mail prior to your operation, and are planning on remaining in the unit. I would ask if that is going to be a problem. It is best to put communications like this in writing. Second you are correct that the landlord needs to provide you with a notice of termination at least 30 days before the end of the lease and that you never received such notice and therefore there is no way that you will be able to move out prior to the end of next month. Finally I would contact an attorney and might look for one that is also familiar with discrimination as there could be some issues concerning your disability that you may be able to fight this on.

  45. Hi,

    Me and my wife renting an apartment in Chicago. Our lease has a clause “Number of Occumpants: Lessee agrees that the demised premises shall be occupied by no more than 2 persons without the written consent of Lessor”. During lease signing, I asked the owner that my parents will be visiting for 2-3 months so will it be ok for them to stay with me and he agreed to that. Also just before they were coming I called and took the permission so that they can stay as guest in my apartment for 3 months. Now that my parents are about to leave in 10 days, she is asking me to pay $50 per person per day or she will take me to court.
    My question are
    – Am I in breach of my lease, eventhough I took the permission and had verbal confirmation ?
    – Can she ask any amount per person/per day especially when the lease doesn’t say anything about the consequence if I breach the lease
    – if my parents leave now can she still charge me for all those days that they lived with me?

    Your help is really appreciated.

    1. I am not an attorney and these are legal questions so you should consult with an attorney before making any decisions. In the future it is always best to have any agreements in writing. Verbal agreements are difficult to prove. Can you document the agreement in any way. Can you prove that the owner knew your parents were there prior to this. If she is going to ask for an amount it should be in the lease. It does not sound as if the $50 assessment would be enforceable. If there is no penalty mentioned then the landlord could evict you for violating the lease. In this case the landlord would have to give you a 10 day notice to come into compliance with the lease, which means if your parents leave in the 10 days the landlord would not be able to evict you.

  46. Hi,

    We rented a condo in Chicago 9 months back. The owner doesnot live in the building. 2 weeks back I noticed a bedbug problem. We showed the bedbug to janitor and then building management sent letter that a extermination will be needed. My owner called and asked me to bear the cost but I don’t know if we have caused it, unknowingly/unintentionally or it has cause by people moving in beside our apartment. Am I suppose to pay the cost for extermination when its not sure whether we have caused it or its because of somebody else ? Can I make my owner to pay this cost ? Even if she agrees to that then she might cut that amount from my security deposit by giving some other problem. Please help

  47. Hi, John.

    We have a regular lease with no special clauses or additions for termination. Also, the landlord does not live on the premises.

  48. Hi, John.

    My husband and I are in a Chicago apartment building that has just been sold. We had signed a two-year lease which is not up until April 2011. I received a text message from the landlord’s agent stating that we will be receiving a formal letter from the landlord on August 1 and that the closing will more than likely take place at the end of August.

    What are our rights as tenants in this case? Should we contact an attorney? If so, can you recommend one?

    1. My first question is what does your lease state? Does it allow the landlord to terminate the lease? Does the lease allow you the tenant to terminate the lease with a shorter notice. Finally if the landlord does not live on the premises and the lease allows the landlord to terminate the lease and not the tenant is it on a separate sheet that you have initialed and not buried in the numerous lease clauses?

  49. Hi,

    I recently moved into a new apartment on June 1 of this year on a 12 month lease. Since then, we have found roaches in the apartment. The first time we tried to contact the landlord, they left a can of bug spray on our door. It took two more weeks of myself and my roommates telling them that a can of roach spray was not sufficient, and finally they had an exterminator come in and spray the building. We started seeing the bugs again about four days after the spraying.

    What can I do to get out of the lease? The landlord’s remedies are not working and they are very hard to get a hold of, and the situation is causing undue stress on myself and my roommates, as we are afraid to eat/cook/sleep/be in the apartment due to the bugs popping up, and I can’t have my cat here due to the poison.

    We do have letters from our doctors stating that the situation is causing severe mental and physical stress.

    What can we do, if anything, to get out of the lease legally?


    1. You did not mention if this building is in Chicago and whether the owner lives on the premises. It makes your question harder to answer. In Chicago if a problem makes the unit not reasonably fit and habitable, then you can terminate the lease. You can do this by sending the landlord a 14 day written notice asking them to repair the problem and it is not completed in 14 days then you can terminate the lease. Here is a link to the sample letter

  50. Hello,

    I have a sticky situation with my management company and need your help!

    Me and my roommate moved in August 1st, 2009. This is the first apartment we have rented, and we got it through Chicago Apartment Finders, and were told it was a 12 month lease. We have made plans and arrangements to move out at the end of this month. I found a copy of my lease over the weekend and saw that the lease end date is marked “9/30/2010.” Underneath the box, it says “13 month lease,” but it was dated for 14 months. And then under the Notice of Conditions Affecting Habitability, the clause states “previous 12 months” of the resident before us, which one would conclude that the prior residents had a 12 month lease.

    The dates on the lease are inconsistent and all over the place. Yes, they had our our signatures on the document, but there’s major mistakes on the management’s end as well – and they signed it, too. I finally got a hold of the property manager to explain the situation, and we asked if the lease could be amended for us to move out at the end of the month (July 31st, 2010) with out penalty or loss of our deposit since there were so many loopholes in the lease. (We had already made living arrangements for August and couldn’t afford to pay two more months there!)

    At first they said we are still obligated to pay, but after explaining our personal situation, he said that he would knock off the 14th month, but we still had to pay August rent. He said we could use our deposit to pay for it.

    I’m glad he at least met us halfway, but I just want to make sure that I’m not getting screwed over here and that this is legal. Any input or information would be more than appreciated!

    And believe me – we have definitely learned many lessons through all of this!

    Thank you so much!

    1. It sounds like a sticky situation. I am assuming that you live in Chicago and if so there may be other laws that you could use to terminate the lease. You mentioned that there are a lot of inconsistencies with the lease. You could contact an attorney to look over the lease. An attorney may be able to get you a better deal. You will have to pay an attorney so it is hard to say. Your question regarding 13 month leases is not the only that we have received. If there are confusions in a lease it is suppose to be read in favor of the person who did not write the lease. As for the deal you have worked out it is impossible for me to say if it is a good one. If the landlord rerents the unit prior to the end of August then I would ask for money back and might put that in any agreement that you sign. Once again you may want to check with an attorney on that wording. So what have you learned?

  51. My lease ends on July 31st, 2010 but I decided to break our lease on/before June 30th, 2010.

    Our family truly likes this apartment but we have decided to leave for several matters.
    We have rented the unit about 16 years. I have noticed that there’re a number of problems in the unit that needs to be repaired (old carpet, water-leaking from the ceiling, water- leaking from the A/C vent, etc…) The owner hasn’t changed our carpet and it’s really dirty and bad conditions. Also, we have bugs/ants crawling… ( We took some pictures for evidence)
    Also, every year, there’s water leaking from the ceiling and it never has been repaired correctly and efficiently. Therefore, we could not live this apartment anymore because of the bad conditions.

    We mailed out a 60-days notice to the seller so we can move out June 30th, 2010.
    Now, the owner wants us to pay the July rent payment and they do not want to pay our security deposits..

    Can I break the lease?? We do not want to move out but our apartment is really in bad conditions for living..

    1. If you live in Chicago, the Chicago Landlord and Tenants Ordinance allows renters to terminate a rental agreement if the repairs make the unit not reasonably fit and habitable the tenant can terminate the lease by giving the landlord a written notice giving them 14 days to make the repairs. If the repairs are not made within 14 days of the landlord receiving the letter then the tenant can terminate the lease and move out. I cannot advise as to whether the repairs make the apartment not reasonably fit and habitable. It is a phrase open to some interpretation. You may want to see an attorney. If you want to stay there and get the unit fixed there are other remedies and you can call the city of Chicago at 311 and request an inspection.

  52. Hi there. My spouse and I need to get out of our lease a month early because we are closing on a house end of July, lease ends end of August. The only contact number we have for the landlord is a woman’s cell phone (we assume this is the landlord’s assistant)- we originally signed our lease with a management company that has since gone out of business. We have verbal agreement from this woman that if we find a new tenant, they can sign a new lease and we can leave early, penalty free – were told they would send a letter stating as such. However, we have yet to receive any letter and no one will return our phone calls anymore. We have no idea who our landlord is or how to get in touch with them directly because the phone number they provided us is actually a fax machine (we got the lady’s cell phone number from the maintenance guy). I have listed the apartment on craigslist and have found plenty of people that are interested in it but we don’t have a blank lease for them to sign or anyway to put them in touch with the landlord because again, they won’t answer our calls or return our voicemails. They have also breached our contract in a number of ways over the last 2 years, but we accepted rent abatements for some of the violations. Is there any legal way to break our lease a month early if they are not cooperating?

    1. Without knowing in what city this building is located it is difficult to answer the question. Have you tried writing a letter to the owner? I would begin there. In Illinois the landlord is required to mitigate damages meaning they have to try and rerent the unit. In the letter I would state when you are leaving, that you have found people who are interested but have to lease for them to sign and therefore cannot sublet the unit because they are not cooperating.

  53. I recently was told i was going to be laid off and my last day will be June 1st of this year. i told the manager/janitor who i pay rent to about 2 weeks ago. i have no other way of income so i absolutley cannot pay rent for june. he said that i couldnt break my lease, i told him to keep the security deposit. i have 3 months left on the lease, i dont want to be evicted… he did say if i dont pay that i can end up in court. is there anything i can do?

    1. Illinois law requires that the owner try and mitigate your damages if you move out early. you can remain liable for time that the unit is vacant. Do you live in Chicago? If so the law allows you to sublet the apartment. The landlord needs to take any reasonable sublettor. I am not an attorney but I think that eviction is for cases where the unit is occupied. If you owe money then I think the landlord can still sue you but it is not in eviction court.

  54. How much notice does my landlord need to give me that the rent is being raised at the end of my current lease? I’m on a 1-year lease that ends May 31.

    I just received notice on Friday May 14th that the rent is increasing by $100/month (over 10% increase) and that I need to decide by May 23rd if I’m staying. This doesn’t seem like an adequate time frame for me to find a new place to live, pack and move. Please advise. Thanks. Oh, and I live in Chicago.

    1. If you are on a month to month agreement, the landlord would need to give you a 30-day written notice to change the terms of the lease. If you are covered by Chicago’s Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance, the landlord has to give you a minimum of a 30-day notice to terminate the lease. I would suggest that raising the rent $100 is terminating the agreement and thus requires a 30-day notice. I would contact an attorney to let them look over your agreement to make sure. You can also start by informing the landlord in writing that at this time you are not agreeing to the rent increase and that a 30-day notice is needed to terminate the lease therefore any rent increase or termination of the lease will have to wait until July 1 and that you will be moving out at that time. If you think that you may want to stay in the unit you may want to inform the landlord that you are unable to decide on such short notice whether you can stay or not. You have been a good tenant and can you have until June 1 to decide. The rent increase or termination cannot go into effect until July 1.

  55. 20 year old brother and girlfriend applied for an apartment in Chicago (Cook County) in February 2010. I am guessing they were approved for the apartment and in turn signed a month to month lease on or around April 1, 2010. Upon moving into the apartment the lights were not on, meaning no power. Due to Easter holiday weekend no one was available to assist. As of Tuesday, April 6, 2010, the lights are on however; on Wednesday, April 7, 2010 my brother came home to find a 30 day notice to vacate the apartment. He phoned the management office only to be told the ‘manager’ wrote up the notice and is the only person able to divulge the mysterious explanation. I suspect this may be in retaliation due to the lack of power, which was no fault of his, in the apartment upon moving in. I also, suspect this may be an issue of discrimination due to their age. Please advise if my brother has a legal right to his security deposit and April’s rent being refunded in full. The management company representative or front office worker is a piece of work; great customer service is not the best quality.


    1. This is a question bettered answered on MTO’s tenants hotline see the bottom of the page. In Chicago before answering any question it is essential to know the size of the building and if the owner lives on the premises. A couple of general issues. It is not illegal to discriminate based on someone being too young. The only discrimination is for people over 40. Why do you suspect retaliation? Did the tenant call a governmental agency? As for the security deposit, your brother is entitled to get it back as long as he leaves the building in same condition minus normal wear and tear. Finally the 30 day notice should go til the end of May as a month to month agreement can only end at the end of lease period.

  56. Hello,
    I have subletted a room in my apartment. There is no lease agreement. She gave me a security deoposit of $600.00.
    I have had no issues with bugs of anysort before she moved in. 3 weeks after she moved in she brought stuff into the apartment out of storage. She started getting bites.
    She refused to wash her sheets or clean the room to see if the problem would grow and she could find evidence of a bug. The bites continued.
    I now have to hire an extetrminator. I have writen to her and stated that I am givintg her 2 weeks notice to move out. Becuase I have arranged an agreement w/ the property management company (whom I have a lease with) the cost to me is $125.00.
    I would like to deduct $125.00 from her security deposit as this problem only came after she lived in the room and brought her belongings into the room.
    Is this legal? Can I keep the $125.00 from the rent. My apartment company has stated that they do not have to pay for the bedbugs since the building has never had an issue until this girl moved in.

    1. Bed bugs are a growing problem and are hard to treat as well as hard to assign blame. Bed bugs can come hotels, used furniture, spread through the apartment etc.

      As for the notice to vacate in two weeks. That is probably illegal. If the subtenant pays rent on a monthly basis then they are most likely on a month to month agreement and then you would have to provide them with a 30 day written notice.

      As for the cost of extermination, that is a trickier issue. Tenants are generally liable for the damage that they cause. So it could be possible. The extermination of bed bugs usually require more than one application because you will need to kill the eggs.


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