All 22 Comments

  1. My walls in my bathroom and kitchen area are sinking and cracking because of water damage from an upstairs tenant letting the kids overflow water monthly. The worst of this was done in October. November 1st I sent them a letter thru the mail requesting repairs within 14 days. November 20th they came to my apartment saying they were gonna fix it and never returned. December 1st I withheld part of my rent. Here it is January and they still have not done any repairs, in the meantime an inspection was done on our building and along with other building violations, my apartment was put down as having a code violation. I will be withholding part of my rent again, but what I want to know is because my apartment have a code violation on it can I terminate my lease and move.

    1. The law states that a tenant can terminate the lease if the apartment is not reasonably fit and habitable. There is no clear definition of what it means for to be not reasonably fit and habitable. SO if you do want to pursue this method, I would definitely speak with an attorney.

      Did the landlord provide you with a summary of the Chicago Residential Landlord and Ordinance. If the landlord did not, then the law allows a tenant to terminate the lease by providing notice of the failure to provide a summary and that you as tenant will terminate the lease and be out within 30 days.

      1. Yes it was given to me. Those are the rules I have been following so far. So I will continue to pay partial rent until March when my lease is up, cause I know they will not fix anything before then.

      2. If you want to move out you can always ask the landlord to see if you can mutually terminate the lease. If you do this make sure that every aspect of the termination is in writing.

  2. I have leased an apartment, in the city of Chicago, for 19 years with the same landlord. For the last 18 yrs my apartment has had Central AC. My AC stopped working on Jun 17. My landlord does not live in the building.

    I want to deliver a reduction & repair letter. Can I back date this to the begining of the problem (as reported to the landlord) which was Jun 17th?

    Brian J

    1. What matters is when the landlord receives the notice. If you mail the notice to the landlord then there will be date that the landlord receives the notice and the time starts ticking the day after the landlord receives the notice. Backdating does not do any good.

      You can, of course, add in the letter the date the AC quit and ask the landlord for compensation and see what you get.

  3. I am on the third floor of a multi-unit walk up. The landlord does not live in the building. I have been here since March when i signed a 1 yr. lease.

    The doorbell/intercom has not worked since i moved in -The landlord has told me that it would be fixed and that we would be getting a state of the art intercom system that rings your phone, this was several months ago and still nothing has been done and landlord will not return my phone calls about this problem. I cannot receive packages or even know if i have a visitor since i have no doorbell. It has worked on and off, but then I can’t find out who is at the door without running down 3 flights of stairs, since the intercom has never worked.

    There is no access to the basement to change fuses, the only person who has a key is the store owner of a stained glass store on the street level of the building, he is not open 24/7 so if a fuse blows during non store hours, there is no way to change the fuse and have functioning electric in the apartment since the landlord does not return phone calls or text messages.

    I have recently seen cockroaches and had to contact the landlord several times to get an exterminator, he finally gave me the exterminators phone to set up an appointment with him, the only communication i have been able to have about the process is through the exterminator himself. I have had to purchase Diatomaceous Earth to put around the apartment to try to kill the bugs without being toxic to me or my dog…I have not gotten any reimbursement for this…My landlord rarely ever returns phone calls or text messages.

    The bathroom tub regularly gets clogged and i have had to purchase drano repeatedly, again no reimbursement from the landlord. The landlord has rodded it twice only after several attempts to contact him.

    The kitchen drain gurgles and bubbles on a consistent basis and lately there is a rotten egg smell that fills the apartment when this happens….landlord will not respond to requests to fix.

    The hallway has no ventilation, the windows are nailed shut and the smoke detector in the hall is constantly beeping, the hallway has only been cleaned once since i’ve moved in 6 months ago.

    There are pigeon droppings and pigeons living on the back porch.

    I have been without hot water twice this week and when it came back on after not working i had orange rusty water running from the drains…no response from the landlord about this problem.

    There is a sports bar below me in the building (I was not aware that this was an active bar when i moved in, the leasing agent told me she didn’t know what was in that space because it was papered up and looked vacant) There is constant noise at night until 2 and 3am from drunken patrons and occassionally they have a DJ and the Bass from the music vibrates the whole building. I work retail hours so I often work on the weekends…this disturbs my sleep even though i wear earplugs.

    I would like to know if I can renegotiate my rent for a reduction. I can’t afford to move again. Or is there anything else I can do? Thanks!

    I did file a complaint online with the city building code violations, I am hoping that this does not get me in trouble with the landlord, i know that there is a law against retailiation, but it is very hard to fight, I just don’t know what else to do since the landlord will rarely ever call me back. did i do the right thing?

    1. There are several steps that tenants can take.

      1. You can call 311 and request an inspection. I do not know how well the online complaint system works. Did you receive a complaint tracking number? If so you can call 311 and find out the status of the complaint. The city inspectors will cite the landlord for code violation which it sounds like there are several and force the landlord to make the repairs or face fines.

      2. You can use rent withholding or repair and deduct remedies. These remedies start with a written letter to the landlord give the owner 14 days to fix things.

      1. Hello,

        I did give my landlord the letter stating all of the problems and that I would be deducting rent for October, I had a meeting with another landlord (turns out 2 brother own the building and the other brother has taken over handling the situation with me) He said he would work on fixing the problems to make me happy and that i could take $300 off of October’s rent, but it would be a one time thing. He also said he had other buildings and wanted to put me in another apartment and would help me out with the moving costs. etc…He has not shown me the apartment as of yet, says he’s busy or doesn’t get back to me when i try to set up an appointment.

        The only problem that was addressed was that he rodded the bathtub drain and has had the exterminator out. he also took me downstairs to the bar to talk to the owners about keeping the noise level down.

        Nothing else has been fixed. The bar continues to have loud dj’s and i have had to call 311 at least 3 times and have talked to the alderman’s office. He has had an exterminator come out, but the problem is ongoing with the roaches.

        Since these problems have not been fixed, I took $300 off of November’s rent (rent is $700) and sent a letter stating that since these problems have not been resolved that I am deducting the reduced value from the rent as per the Tenants Rights.

        I received a voice mail to day from my landlord saying that I need to call him immediately and let him know what time he could pick up the rest of the rent TODAY. He said he’s not playing around and was trying to be nice by giving me a discount last month..

        What are my rights? What can I do? Please Help!!!


  4. My boyfriend and i are on the lease. We had starting in late may bed bugs told the landlord but nothing done. I began steaming everything, spending alot of money at the laundromat to do all mine, my boyfriends, and my six years old things. I bought bed bug spray out of my own pocket. I kept calling the land lord they finally bought two more cans of bed bug spray refusing to pay an exterminator. Could not find the landlords address the only address they have is to my apartment and it also is stated on my the 1st floor tenants lease the address where we are. We told the land lord in June that we will not pay them the full amount of rent if not taken care of. I moved out June 6th, because I could not take the bites any more. My boyfriend works 12-14 hrs daily so he never noticed them. Told me they were gone so i moved back. Now its the end of august and the first floor has them and ive got more than before and the land lord still refuses to call an exterminator. What can we do. Any help would greatly be appreciated.

    1. Is this a multi-unit building? Are there others in the building that are being impacted by the pests. If so you might want to work with other tenants to get the landlord to fix the problem. Bed bugs are hard to get rid of. Also you your boyfriend may not notice the bugs because about 40 percent of people do not react to the bites. If this is a multi-unit building and other tenants have pests then the landlord is responsible for remedying the situation. You might want to call 311 and request an inspection.

      1. If the tenant is not sure her neighbors have bud bugs but, she has already received written confirmation there is an infestation from a professional, can she still use this sample letter? Or, does it HAVE to be a problem in more than one unit?

        I am working with her to get her to ask her neighbors in the multi-unit building.

      2. The tenant should definitely contact the landlord. Currently under Chicago law, if there are bed bugs in only one unit it is not a code violation. There are efforts underway to change that.

  5. There are several issues in your letter. The first is that you sent the letter and in response the landlord fixed several items and halfway fixed others and did not fix the others. I cannot tell from here how much to reduce the rent for the items not fixed at all. Because the landlord fixed some of the problems it should change the amount of your reduction.

    As for raising the rent, are there other renters in the building? Did the landlord raise the rent on everyone else. If so then it will be harder to raise a retaliation claim.

    I would suggest that you contact an attorney.

  6. My apartment has had countless issues over the course of 1 year. To date my tub and kitchen sink drains slow, my ceiling is leaking again,the roof has yet to be properly fixed, my windows are still waiting to be weatherproofed (since I moved in), & my outlets haven’t been repaired, just to name a few. How do I determine the amount I should reduce from my rent until all of these things have been taken care of?

    1. There is no scientific way to do this. At MTO we think that the judges of City Council should set some guidelines. Short of that it may be best to consult an attorney.

  7. Do you have to give 14 days for the landlord to make the repair before you make the repair and reduce the cost from your rent? Our property manager never makes repairs, and our bathtub will not drain. Waiting for 14 more days will be very difficult. -Thanks

    1. In cases of essential services you can give less time. A bath tub drain could potentially fit that description. You should consult with an attorney. It may depend on such things as do you have another tub or shower, how bad is the drain etc.


      1. Under your standard lease, tenants are responsible for the plumbing in thier apartments. Especially clogged up drains which they usually have caused. Bath tubs catch your hair. Stick a unfolded wire coat hanger in there. Better yet, put a strainer trap in the drain and pull your hair out. Sometimes tenants drop the caps to shampoo bottles in the drain.

      2. If the landlord has rodded the bath tub drain twice already, it is most likely the people who live in the apartment who keep clogging it up. In kitchens be careful not to let food and grease go in the sink. Scrape food from plates and bowls into the garbage and wipe grease out of pots and pans before washing.

      3. I am not sure what the problem is with the plumbing. Certainly a drain should not have to rodded out that frequently. Drains should also be able to withstand the normal use of cleaning up after dinner. How much grease is being dumped down the drain? There could be problems with the plumbing that are causing the pipes to get clogged. You might want to call a specialist.


      4. Tenants are responsible if they are negligent. In general, the landlord is responsible for the plumbing. A tenant would be responsible if the sink was used for a purpose other than what it is supposed to be used for or if they were to clog the sink with a toy or a shampoo cap. The concern with tenants making repairs on their own is what happens if they accidently cause damage trying to fix something. The tenants could well be responsible for such damage which is why a tenant might want to hire a professional to deal with the situation.

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