Tenants and Foreclosure – FAQ

Tenants impacted by foreclosure: Frequently Asked Questions

What is a foreclosure?
When an owner falls behind in mortgage payments, foreclosure is the court process by which a bank forces the sale of a building used as security in order to pay off the owner’s debt. In an effort to protect tenants who live in a building that is in foreclosure, the city passed the Keep Chicago Renting Ordinance (KCRO). Under the KCRO, you may be eligible for a lease renewal or $10,600 in relocation assistance. To learn more click HERE.

Who owns the building while it is in court?
Just because a building is in foreclosure does NOT mean that the building has been foreclosed on or will be foreclosed on. Until the court approves a sale and there is a confirmation of sale, your landlord still owns the building. In most cases, the bank acquires the property and becomes the owner.

What are some common signs that my building might be in foreclosure?
Maintenance suddenly stops
– Utility shutoff notices
– Banks sending notices to the landlord
– Realtors hanging around the building, or taking pictures of the building
– The landlord disappears and/or stops collecting rent.

How long does the foreclosure process take?
The court process takes an average of nine months. If the owner is not able to satisfy the bank’s requirements, the court puts the property up for sale where it is usually bought by the bank.

Where can I find out if my building is in foreclosure?
1. Get the PIN # of the property by going to www.cookcountyassessor.com and entering the building address.

2. Enter the PIN # at www.cookrecorder.com or call the Recorder of Deeds at 312-603-5050 and give them your PIN #. If the building is in foreclosure, they can provide you with the foreclosure notice (the “lis pendens”) and the associated foreclosure court case number.

3. For more information about the case go to www.cookcountyclerkofcourt.org or call the Chancery Court, at 312-603-5133. You can also go to http://www.cookcountyclerkofcourt.org – go to online case info – full docket search – and search the chancery division for the landlord’s name under defendant or using the case #.

Under the Keep Chicago Renting Ordinance (KCRO), if your building is in foreclosure, you may be eligible for a lease renewal or $10,600 in relocation assistance. To learn more about the KCRO, click HERE.

Do I still have to pay rent?
Yes. As long as you are living in the unit you must pay rent. Checks or money orders are best so that you have proof of payment. You can still be evicted for nonpayment of rent even though your landlord is in foreclosure.

What if I don’t know to whom to pay rent or the landlord stops collecting it?
Click here to find our who the owner is or contact a lawyer to assist you in determining the new owner of the property. Be sure to ask any new people claiming to be the owner for proof before giving them rent money. The law only requires that tenants make a good faith effort to pay the rent if the landlord disappears. Some examples of good faith efforts to pay rent may include:
– Holding the rent in a money order
– Using the rent on utilities your landlord was paying
– Using the rent to make repairs to the property
– Sending a letter via certified mail, requesting information from the new owner on where to send the rent. (Keep             a copy of the letter for yourself)

Do I have the right to break my lease because my landlord is in foreclosure?
No…however, if you are covered under the Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance and did not receive proper notice, please see below under Are landlords required to tell their tenants that their building is in foreclosure?

The bank has taken over the building. What do I do?
The bank is your new landlord. You must pay them rent once they have notified you as to whom and where to pay, and they are responsible for repairs, any utilities paid by the old landlord, etc. If you are uncertain of who to pay, hold your rent in escrow. Also, check to see if you’re covered by the Keep Chicago Renting Ordinance. You may be eligible for relocation assistance if the bank chooses not to renew your lease.

The sheriff posted a notice saying that my landlord or unknown occupants must vacate the building. Does this apply to me?
No. If your name is not on the notice, you do not have to move. Immediately contact the sheriff’s office at (312) 603-3365 to inform them that there are tenants in the building and contact an attorney to get legal help. If the sheriff shows up, you will need to show them identification, as well as your lease, a piece of mail, or other evidence proving that you are a tenant in the building and not the landlord.

Will I have to move? How much time will I have once a new owner takes over?
If the building is foreclosed upon and sold, the new owner must give you 90 days or until the end of your lease, whichever longer. However, if the new owner would like to use the unit as a personal residence, they do not have to honor the lease, but they must give you at lest 90 days notice prior to eviction proceedings. Once the lease expires, the owner must give you a 30 day notice in writing before proceeding in eviction court. (This is assuming that you are lease complaint and up to date on rent.)

NOTE: The sheriff’s office can and will evict tenants during the winter, with the exception if it is 15 degrees or snowing.

Can the bank or new owner put me out without a court date?
No. If anyone tries to evict you before taking you to court, then it is an illegal eviction, also known as a lockout. Call the police, file a police report (get officers name and badge #) and contact the Tenants Rights Hotline at 773-292-4988. If you receive a summons to court make sure to contact an attorney.

Will this eviction show on my record?
If you were evicted solely because of the foreclosure your attorney can petition the judge to seal the record. If you are evicted for nonpayment of rent, it will be on your record.

The bank offered me a “Cash for Keys” deal. What should I do?
Sometimes banks offer tenants a cash for keys deal in order to vacate the building more quickly. Evaluate the entire situation first and make sure you have enough time to find a safe and decent apartment. Make sure you get any deal in writing and talk to a lawyer before you sign. If the bank does not offer a settlement feel free to ask for one. However, be aware that many tenants are eligible for $10,600 under the KCRO, which is more than most banks will initially offer. Call us or contact an attorney before agreeing to any “Cash for Keys” deal.

How do I get my security deposit back?
If your tenancy is NOT governed by the Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance (CRLTO): The bank is not responsible for your deposit. If you do not receive your security deposit back within 45 days of moving you can take your landlord to court. If you know your landlord is in foreclosure court or is about to lose the building ask for written permission to live out your security deposit. If you live out your deposit without permission you can be evicted for non-payment of rent. If your tenancy is CRLTO please see below.

Additional Information for tenants who are covered under the Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance (CRLTO): If you live in Chicago, the Ordinance governs your tenancy unless you reside in:

  • An owner occupied building containing less than seven apartments;
  • A hotel, motel, inn, rooming house, or boarding house (unless you have resided there for more than 31 days and pay rent on a monthly basis); or
  • A hospital, convent, monastery, school dormitory, temporary overnight or transitional shelter, cooperative, or
  • A building owned by your employer (assuming your right to live there is conditioned upon you being employed in or around the building).

What happens to my security deposit?
In the event that the building is lost to foreclosure, the lender is responsible if the landlord fails to return the security deposit.

Are landlords required to tell their tenants that their building is in foreclosure?
If your tenancy is governed by the CRLTO: The landlord is required to tell current tenants about foreclosure filings within seven days of being served with a foreclosure complaint. The landlord must also inform any potential tenants before they move in. Tenants who were not properly informed about the foreclosure can sue for $200 in damages and/or terminate their leases.

Additional References:
Building Inspectors: Call 311 for an inspection if you have repairs that need to be made or are lacking utilities.
If you need assistance moving or with a security deposit call 311 and inform them that your landlord is in foreclosure.

Request an inspection online

Lawyers Committee for Better Housing: (312)-347-7600

Legal Assistance Foundation (Subsidized Tenants): (312)-341-1070

Sheriffs Eviction Unit: (312)-603-3365

Chancery Court: (312)-603-5133

Metropolitan Tenants Organization Tenants’ Rights Hotline: (773)-292-4988 Open: Mon-Fri, 1-5pm

Chicago Legal Clinic: (773)-731-1762

Citizens Utility Board: 1-800-669-5556

Security Deposit Interest – Sample Letter

This letter applies to residents within the city of Chicago only who are covered under the Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance (RLTO). Please see the Exceptions to the RLTO to ensure the law applies to you.
For tenants in suburban Chicagoland, please click here for the law as it applies in your town.

Security Deposit Interest

Find Your Landlord’s Contact Information

Landlord’s Name
First, you must find out the Property Identification Number (PIN) of your building. Online, you can try www.newschicago.org. If the website is down or it is not finding your building, you can call the Cook County Assessor’s office at 312-443-7550.
Once you have the PIN number, you can go to the Cook County Recorder of Deeds’ website and click the link to do a “Property Identification Number (PIN) Search.” This page can get a bit confusing, so a phone call to their office is a good alternative at 312-603-5050.

You can also find out the landlord’s name by going downtown. Begin your search in County Building (118 N. Clark Street).  First go to the Revenue Dept., Room 112, and ask someone at the counter for the Permanent Index Number (PIN number) for the address of the building.   You may also get the PIN number yourself by looking at the green books on the counter.   Go to the tract dept. of the Recorder of Deeds which is located in Room 120.   Give the person at the counter the PIN number and tell them that you want to know the name of the owner of that building.   The grantee of the most recent deed recorded is the owner of the property.   If the property is in a land trust you can send letter to the bank trustee.   They should forward the letter to the beneficiary of the trust your landlord.   The bank will not disclose the name of the beneficiary of the trust to you.   Get the document number of the deed (see below).

Landlord’s Address

  1. Take the document number of the deed to the microfiche department in the Recorders Office, down the hall from the Tract Dept.   Tell the person behind the counter you want to look at the deed to determine the grantee’s address.   Give him the document number.   Look at the deed for the grantee’s address, usually near the beginning.   This is the landlord’s address at the time he/she purchased the building.   The address could be near the bottom under “send subsequent tax bills to”.   If it is a corporation, call the Secretary of State at 312-793-3380 to get the name of the registered agent and corporation’s address.
  2. Call the Revenue Dept. 312-443-5100 or 443-6253 to find out the property taxpayer’s name.   Caution – the taxpayer is not necessarily the owner, it could be the previous one.   You can also get this info in Room 112.
  3. If you have the landlord’s phone number, call Ameritech’s Reverse Directory at 312-796-9600.   They will give you the address if the number is listed.
  4. Call the City’s Dept. of Buildings Multiple Dwelling Registration number 312-744-3452.   All apartment buildings should be registered.   They can give you the name and address of the landlord or landlord’s agent.   However, few buildings are registered even though failure to register is a building code violation.
  5. You can check to see if your landlord is being sued (defendant) by calling the three numbers listed below.   (Or use the computers in room 602 of the Daley Center 50 W. Washington Street.   Type “users” to get to the main menu.)   If he/she is, get the case number.   Then go to the appropriate floor at the Daley Center and look at the file (see below for the location of the different departments). The address where the landlord was served should be on the summons.

Chancery (foreclosure) 312-443-5133 files on 8th floor

Law 312-443-5426 files on 8th floor

Municipal 312-443-5145 files on 6th floor

Divorce Files on 8th floor

Tenant Responsibilities – FAQ

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

As a tenant, what am I required to do?
* Throw out your trash in a clean and safe manner;
* Use all fixtures (such as lights and ceiling fans) and appliances in a reasonable and safe manner;
* Don’t damage the apartment;
* Don’t disturb your neighbors;
* Make sure your family members and guests act appropriately;
* Provide your landlord with reasonable access to your unit (see below); and
* Obey all the lawful provisions of your lease agreement.

Can I be evicted for failing to do these things?
Yes
Please refer to Evictions for more information.

When must I let my landlord into my apartment?
You must let your landlord enter your apartment to:
* Make necessary repairs;
* Supply necessary services;
* Show the apartment to prospective purchasers, workmen, etc.
* Show the apartment to prospective renters within 60 days of the date on which your lease expires; or
* Determine whether you are complying with the terms of your lease agreement. Please refer to Building Security, Locks, and the Law for more information.

Must my landlord give me advance notice before entering my apartment?
Yes. Your landlord must provide you with at least two days notice, and he/she can only enter your unit at a reasonable time. An entry between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. is presumed to be reasonable.
Please refer to Building Security, Locks, and the Law for more information.

Does my landlord ever have the right to enter my apartment without giving me advance notice?
Yes, but only when:
* There is a problem in the common area of the building or in another apartment, and he/she needs to enter your unit to unit to fix this problem; or
* There is an emergency.In either case, your landlord must let you know that he/she entered your apartment within two days after the entry.

What if my landlord keeps coming into my apartment to harass me?
You can call the police. If your landlord does not have a right to be in your apartment, the police should force him/her to leave. You can also:
* File a lawsuit and ask the court to order your landlord to stop entering your apartment more often than necessary; or
* Give your landlord written notice that you will terminate your lease agreement unless he/she stops harassing you within the next 14 days. If he/she does not stop, you can terminate the lease. If you terminate the lease, however, you must move within the next 30 days. Otherwise, the lease will remain in effect.You should consult with an attorney before pursuing either of these two options.
Please refer to Building Security, Locks, and the Law for more information.

Can I refuse to let my landlord into my apartment?
Only if you have a good reason. For instance, you can refuse to let your landlord in if he/she has not provided you with the required advance notice, or if he/she is trying to enter your apartment between 8:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. (Remember, however, you cannot refuse to let your landlord in when there is an emergency). If you are not sure whether you have a good reason to deny your landlord access to your apartment, call an attorney or the Metropolitan Tenants Organization (773/292-4988).

What if, without good reason, I refuse to let my landlord into my apartment?
Your landlord can:
* File a lawsuit and ask the court to order you to let him into the apartment; or
* Terminate your lease agreement and have you evicted. Please refer to Evictions for more information.

Can I change the locks without giving my landlord a new set of keys?
No. Even when you have the right to install a new lock, you must give your landlord a key.
Please refer to Building Security, Locks, and the Law for more information.

Do I have to tell my landlord I am moving when my written lease ends?
No. Your lease sets forth the date on which it ends, and you are supposed to move on that date unless you and your landlord agree to renew your lease agreement.
Please refer to Leases for more information.

What if I do not have a written lease?
If you pay rent on a monthly basis, you must give your landlord at least one month advance written notice that you are moving out. Otherwise, you can be held liable for another month’s rent. If you pay rent on a weekly basis, you must give your landlord at least 7 days advance written notice that you are moving. Otherwise, you can be held liable for another week’s rent.
Please refer to Leases for more information.

What if I damage the apartment?
If you have paid a security deposit, your landlord can withhold whatever portion of this deposit is necessary to cover the cost of repairs. (See the pamphlet entitled Security Deposits to find out what procedure your landlord must follow before withholding all or part of this deposit). If the cost of repair is more than your security deposit, or if you never paid a security deposit, your landlord can sue you for the cost of repairs.
Please refer to Apartment Conditions and Repair for more information.

Please Note:This pamphlet, 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.

Renting & Credit Reports

Credit reports contain “information” about where you live and work and your bill paying habits; it may also state whether there has been an eviction or arrest. Landlords have the right to charge for credit reports.   Many landlords pay credit agencies for reports.   A landlord may also track credit themselves, by contacting banks, credit card companies, and checking court files for lawsuits or bankruptcies.   Either way, the landlord can charge a non-refundable fee for the check.

Landlords can set whatever credit standards they want.   They must hold that standard to all applicants.   If they do not, they may be charged with discrimination.   Some landlords may accept an applicant with a poor credit history by charging a larger security deposit or requiring a cosigner.   The cosigner is fully responsible for the costs of the apartment.

How to get your credit report?
If someone is denied housing because of a credit check, the Fair Credit Reporting Act requires that the landlord supply the name and address of the credit agency used.   If contacted within 30 days, the agency must supply the tenant with the report for free.

How to fix errors on your report?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act gives you the right to dispute information on your credit report.   Write a letter to the credit agency.   Clearly identify the items you dispute, and request deletions or corrections.   Include copies of any thing that may support your claim, such as a receipt for rent.   Send the letter certified mail and keep a copy.

If the agency feels no change to your report is necessary, file a statement of up to 100 words explaining your side of the story.   The credit agency must include this statement any time it sends out your credit report.   If you feel the agency did not properly investigate your dispute, file a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission or the States Attorney.

What collectors may and may not do
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act bans certain types of debt collection and applies to anyone who collects debts for others.   This includes property managers and lawyers.

A collector may not contact you at unreasonable times or places.   This may include your place of work.   A collector may not tell anyone else that you allegedly owe money.   Harassment is illegal.   They may not repeatedly use the telephone to annoy you, threaten you or use obscene language.   Debt collectors may not falsely imply that you committed a crime or will be arrested for not paying.   Debt collectors may not garnish wages or property without a court judgment.

How to stop a debt collector?
If you believe a debt collector has violated the law, you have the right to sue in state or federal court.   You may recover damages, court costs, and attorney fees if you win.   Whether or not you sue, you should report any problems with a debt collector to the States Attorney and the Federal Trade Commission.   Once a collector receives a letter telling them to stop contacting you, they may only contact you to say that there will be not further contact or regarding a specific action.

Thanks to the Ann Arbor Tenants Union for the credit information

Moving Out – FAQ

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

Do I have to tell my landlord I am moving if I have a written lease?
No. Your lease sets forth the date on which it ends, and you are supposed to move on that date unless you and your landlord agree to renew your lease agreement.
Please refer to Leases for more information.

What if I do not have a written lease?
If you pay rent on a monthly basis, you must give your landlord 30 days written notice that you are moving out. Otherwise, you can be held liable for another month’s rent. If you pay rent on a weekly basis, you give your landlord 7 days written notice that you are moving. Otherwise, you can be held liable for another week’s rent.
Please refer to Leases for more information.

Can I use my security deposit to pay the last month’s rent?
Not unless your landlord agrees to let you do this. If you reach such an agreement with your landlord, make sure you get this agreement in writing. A security deposit is not rent. You may get evicted if you treat like rent without your landlord’s written permission.
Please refer to Security Deposits for more information.

Is there anything I can do before I move to make sure I get back my security deposit?
Yes. Clean the apartment, repair any damage you caused, and take pictures of the apartment to verify its condition. You should ask the landlord to:

* Walk through the apartment with you just before you move out; and
* Sign a statement verifying the condition of the apartment.

Please refer to Security Deposits for more information.

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

What if I leave my property behind when I move out?
Your landlord must leave the property in the apartment or store it somewhere safe for 7 days. If the property is not worth the cost of storage, however, he/she can throw it away immediately.

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

What if my landlord doesn’t let me break the lease, but I still move out before the lease ends?
Your landlord must make a good faith effort to re-rent the apartment. If he/she’s unsuccessful, you remain responsible for the rent. If he/she rents it for less than what you were paying, you remain responsible for the difference.
Please refer to Leases for more information.

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

What if my subtenant does not pay the rent?
You become responsible for it.

What happens to my security deposit when I Sublet?
The landlord is entitled to hold your security deposit until the end of the lease, so you should either:

* Ask your landlord to return your deposit and collect a new one from the subtenant; or,
* Collect a security deposit from the subtenant yourself.

The landlord cannot keep a deposit from both you and the subtenant if the total amount of the deposit exceeds the amount listed on the lease.
Please refer to Security Deposits for more information.

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.

Moving In – FAQ

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

Does my landlord have to give me him/her or anyone else’s name, address and telephone number when I move into the apartment?
Yes. Your landlord must give you the names, addresses and telephone numbers of the:

  • Owner or manager of the building; and
  • Person who can receive, on your landlord’s behalf, your notices and demands.

Must I have a written lease agreement?
No. You and your landlord may, if you want,enter into an oral lease agreement. If you have an oral agreement and pay rent on a monthly basis, you have a month-to-month tenancy which either you or your landlord can terminate with at least one month written notice. Please refer to Leases for more information.

What is the advantage of a written lease agreement?
It clearly sets forth the terms of your agreement with the landlord. Furthermore, it states how long your tenancy will last. (IMPORTANT: Your landlord cannot terminate your lease early unless you violate one of the lease provisions). Please refer to Leases for more information.

After I sign a written lease agreement is there a grace period during which I can cancel it?
NO

What if my landlord promises to make certain repairs before I move into the apartment?
Get the landlord to sign a written agreement stating that he/she will complete these repairs by a certain date.

Must my landlord give me a summary of Chicago’s Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance?
Yes. If you do not have a written lease, your landlord must give you a copy of the summary. If you do have a written lease, your landlord must attach the summary to your rental agreement.

What if my landlord does not give me this summary?
You can send him/her a letter stating that you are terminating your tenancy. This letter must specify the date of termination (which cannot be more than 30 days after the notice is sent). You may also sue your landlord for $100.

What if the landlord will not let me move in to the apartment?
You have two choices.

  • If you no longer want the apartment, you can send the landlord a letter stating that you are canceling the lease because he/she refused to let you move in. Keep a copy of your letter. If your landlord does not return your security deposit and prepaid rent, you can sue her.
  • If you still want the apartment, you can send the landlord a letter stating that you want to move in. Keep a copy of your letter. If the landlord does not let you move in, you can sue him/her and ask the court to order him/her to let you move in. You can also recover whatever money you had to spend on temporary housing while waiting to move in.

Can a landlord refuse to rent to me an apartment just because I have children?
No, If a landlord does this, call a lawyer.

Can the landlord tell me how many people can live in my apartment?
The landlord can only insist that you comply with local law, which provide that tenants cannot live in apartments (or sleep in bedrooms) that are too small for the number of people who live there. For instance in Chicago, two tenants cannot live in an apartment that has less that 250 square feet of floor area, three tenants cannot live in an apartment that has less than 350 square feet of floor area, and so on. As long as you are following local laws, the landlord cannot tell you which rooms your family can use as sleeping areas. If you think the landlord’s rules are more restrictive than local law, contact an attorney.

Is it illegal for a landlord to discriminate against me?
Yes, but only if your landlord is discriminating against you on the basis of your:

  • Sex
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Nationality
  • Mental or physical disability;
  • Marital status;
  • Parental status;
  • Age (if you are at least 40 years old);
  • Unfavorable military discharge;
  • Sexual orientation;
  • Source of income;
  • Status as a current or former CHA resident; or
  • Participation in a Section 8 housing program.

What should I do if a landlord discriminates against me?
You should call an attorney or organization that specializes in discrimination complaints.

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. Please refer to Leases for more information.

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 written notice. If you pay rent on a monthly basis, you must receive at least one month advance notice. If you pay rent on a weekly basis, you must receive at lease 7 days advanced notice.

Please refer to Leases for more information.

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.