Action Alert: Save Renters’ Security Deposits!

*UPDATE* The subcommittee meeting has been rescheduled for Wednesday, June 16th at 10am at City Hall. Meet on the 2nd floor.

*UPDATE* MTO has learned that the subcommittee meeting scheduled for Monday has been canceled. Check back soon for updates.

On Monday, May 24th, at 10am, Alderman Shiller’s newly formed subcommittee will be hearing testimony from landlords and tenants regarding the two amendments that were considered at the Building Committee meeting in April. The subcommittee meeting will be held at City Hall, on the 2nd floor, in room 201A.

The first amendment, proposed by Alderman Stone, would circumvent the current penalties landlords face for not paying security deposit or interest back to the tenant. If this amendment were to pass, landlords would face absolutely NO penalties for violating the all the security deposit laws set forth in the Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance. Once the landlord has violated their tenants’ rights, then the tenants would be required to remind their landlord that their rights have indeed been violated – in writing, and only then could the tenant even consider pursuing other legal remedies.

The second amendment, proposed by Alderman Shiller, allows landlords who miscalculate interest to be given a second chance to correct the problem before facing legal penalties. This amendment would protect landlords who make innocent mistakes from frivolous lawsuits while simultaneously keeping loopholes closed for bad landlords who intentionally violate their tenants’ right to their own money. MTO is in support of Alderman Shiller’s amendment. Alderman Stone’s amendment does not differentiate between good landlord and bad landlords.

There are more tenants than landlords in the city of Chicago and on May 24th, we want the Alderman on this subcommittee to hear tenant voices. MTO is looking for renters to testify about their rental experiences to this subcommittee. If you want to speak out or have your story told, please contact Loreen Targos at 773.292.4980 x 231 or by email at loreen@tenants-rights.org.

Renters Win Round 1

Round 2 is on Monday, May 24th.

Tenants and activists gathered in the second floor lobby of City Hall Tuesday April 27th before the Building Committee meeting to express their support of Mayor Daley’s amendment to hold banks accountable for tenants’ security deposit in the case of foreclosure. Among them was Peter Mclennon, representing Cook County Clerk David Orr (the Residential Landlord and Tenants Ordinance sponsor in 1986). He urged rejection of the Chicagoland Apartment Association’s amendment being put forth by Alderman Stone. According to Charlotte Starks, a tenant and hotline counselor, “Security deposits being kept by landlords is as prevalent as domestic abuse, in that it does not have a face, does not have a color, it doesn’t have an address. It’s done city-wide, in all of the wards.”

Following the press conference, participants went to room 201A to prepare to testify before the Buildings Committee. The presence was so large that the meeting was moved to the City Council Chambers to accommodate everyone.

Alderman Shiller started the hearing by proposing a subcommittee that would be able to address problems brought forth by landlords and tenants. Alderman Stone chose to hear all testimony from landlord and tenant groups. Approximately 30 people testified to the committee, including Joel Rivera, a tenant turned volunteer counselor for MTO’s Renter’s Rights Hotline, testified “By providing the LL with a 14 day notification prior to any lawsuits regarding the deposit, its basically contradicting a law that the landlord should already know. Upon signing a lease, the landlord is obligated to the RLTO to provide each tenant with a copy of the ordinance summary. So off the bat, the landlord should already be responsible for what his rights are towards the tenant.” John Bartlett, Executive Director of MTO, explained MTO’s desire to work with good landlords on their concerns with the law while simultaneously ensuring loopholes are not opened in the current law that would make it easier for bad landlords to take advantage of their tenant’s money.

Three hours later, after everyone had had their say, Alderman Latasha Thomas stated her support of forming a subcommittee to resolve the issues brought up by those that had testified. Alderman Hairston believed a happy medium could be found between landlords and tenants in a subcommittee. Deputy Commissioner Ellen Sahli explained Mayor Daley’s proposal, specifically that his proposal does not tip the delicate balance in the RLTO away from landlords – instead, it would only affect lien holders, such as banks and only in the case of a foreclosure. Deputy Commissioner Sahli stated her support of a subcommittee and her opposition to Alderman Stone’s amendment.

Chairman Stone explained that his intent with the amendment was to “correct the rigidity of the ordinance.” Alderman Shiller responded that she wanted to address this, but that the “14-day cure” changes economic incentives and changes consequences to landlords if they do not follow the security deposit law as written. Chairman Stone responded that he did not want to be a block on the Mayor’s ordinance. The Buildings Committee then voted unanimously to pass the Mayor’s ordinance onto the full council without any amendments attached. The two amendments will be considered in the new subcommittee headed by Alderman Shiller.

Alderman Shiller’s subcommittee is tentatively scheduled for Monday, May 24.  The committee will continue to look at the amendments proposed by Aldermen Stone and Shiller.  It is important for renters to continue to come attend hearings as we expect the Chicagoland Apartment Association to continue to press for a weakening of Chicago’s ordinance.  Tenants need to inform the alderman of problems they face with security deposits.  If you are interested in testifying at the next hearing please contact  Loreen Targos at 773-292-4980 x 231 or by email at loreen@tenants-rights.org.

Lawyers, Low-Income Housing & Other Resources

This is an informational resource list. None of the following organizations have affiliation with the Metropolitan Tenants Organization.

Legal Organization Referrals

Evictions (tenant must be low-income)

Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing (referral must be faxed)…………..312-784-3527

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

Chicago Legal Clinic (retaliatory eviction only) (serves Spanish speakers)………773-731-1762

Advice before court or to get an extension to stay:

CARPLS Advice Desk Room 602, Daley Center located at Station 7 – Pro se defendants only

Kent Law School Advice Desk Room 602, Daley Center – Pro se defendants only

Illinois Legal Aid Online Pro Se  www.IllinoisLegalAid.org  www.AyudaLegalIl.org

Tenants in CHA or HUD housing or on a Section 8 program

LAF (must fit under income guidelines)…312-341-1070

(unit conditions ONLY)……………….312-229-6093

Cabrini Green Legal Aid……..312-738-2452

Security Deposit Defense

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

Cabrini Green Legal Clinic (income guideline & $20.00 fee)……….312 738 2452

Lawyers Committee for Better Housing……(312) 784-3527

Tenants over 60 years of age

Chicago Department on Aging………312-744-4016

Tenants with Disabilities And Seniors

Mayor’s Office for People with disability up to age 59 ……….312-744-6673

Legal Clinic for the Disabled and seniors (must receive referral from Chgo. Dept. Of Aging)……. 312-908-4463

Center for Disability and Elder Law (they also cover legal issues beyond Tenant/Landlord)………312 376 1880

Community Counseling Centers of Chicago (C4)…………………………………………………………………..773-769-0205

National Alliance on Mental Illness of Chicago HELPLINE………………………………………………….312-563-0445

Tenants living in Logan Square or surrounding neighborhoods:

Micah Legal Aid……… …….773 463-6768

Tenants living in or around Uptown area 60640

Uptown People’s Law Office (Eviction Defense Only) ………… ………773-769-1411

Suburbanites with questions

CARPLS (Cook County, serves Spanish speaking tenants too)…… …..312-738-9200

Open Communities (North & Northwest Cook County Suburbs)…847-501-5760

Prairie State Legal Services DeKalb & Kane………..630-232-9415

Du Page……… ..630-690-2130

Kane………….…630-232-9415

Lake & McHenry………847-662-6925

Will………………815-727-5123

Peoria…………….309-674-9831

MTO Lawyer Referral List

PRIVATE ATTORNEYS

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

Berton N. Ring (class action & appellate, Mold Inspectors)…………..312-781-0290

Brian Gilbert (eviction, security deposit, and consumer defense)….872-216-4615

Daniel M. Starr (security deposits, evictions and class actions)………….. 312-346-9420

David Morris (security deposit, affirmative RLTO, class actions, retaliation, lockouts, illegal entry, trespass, and utility theft if $3000 or more is owed to tenant) Chicago, Mt. Prospect, Oak Park and Evanston………………312-986-3200

Hall Adams (bed bugs, must demonstrate via paper trail that the bed bug issue has occurred)……………….. 312-445-4900

Joan Fenstermaker (security deposit, retaliation, foreclosure, illegal lockouts and illegal late fees)…….312-371-6473 or http://givemebackmydeposit.com/

John Norkus (security deposit, unit conditions, evictions, consumer)…312-600-7457

Joseph F. Vitu    ……….312-726-2323

Susan Ritacca …………… 872-222-6960

Michael A. Childers (security deposit, other legal advice)………..312- 641-1900 (speak or leave message with Beverly Hadley)

Mike Radzilowsky (primarily evictions)   …………312-986-0600

Morgan Cook (tenant-landlord law, debt collection defense)…………………….312-880-7215 or www.legalmcfirm.com

Paul Bernstein (security deposit).…1-866-769-2892

William Moore (security deposits, affirmative RLTO) ……………….. 708-268-3495

Chicago Bar Association (for other Attorney referrals)…………….312-554-2001
(Free Legal Advice every 3rd Saturday of the month & no income guidelines.)

Illinois Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission………….…. (312) 565-2600

Government & Other Resources

Ameritech Reverse Directory (to find landlord address)…………411

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

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

CHAC Fraud Hotline…………………………..800-533-0441

CHA………………………………312-935-2600

Chicago Dept. on Aging + (disabled & tenants over 60)…………312-744-4016

Chicago Department of Childhood Lead Poisoning….(312) 747-5323

Chicago Dept. of Community Development……………………………311 or 312.744.5000

Chicago Housing Authority (CHA Housing and Sec. 8)…………312-742-8500

CHA Hotline (for complaints about CHA management)……………………1-800-544-7139

Circuit Court Clerk’s Office (to find out if you’re being sued)…………312-603-5030

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

Condo Owners………. 312-987-1906

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

Cook County Sheriff’s Eviction Unit…………….312-603-3365

Cook County States Attorney Consumer Fraud………..312-814-3000

Department of Consumer Services (sec. deposit & utility theft complaints) …312-744-4090

Department of Human Services (emergency shelter)………312-746-5400

Eviction Court…………………..312-603-6486
Or cookcountyclerkofcourt.org (full docket search)

For Building Inspections & Emergency Rental Assistance…………..311 or 312-744-5000

HOME (Seniors needing help moving) …………..(773) 921-1332

MTO Hotline* – Tenants Rights …. 773-292-4988 (M-F, 1-5pm)

HUD Complaints about Section 8 Counselor……………….312-353-6236

HUD…………………………..312-353-7776

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

Independent Police Review Authority (to file complaint against police) ……………… 312-745-3609

Lakeside CDC (condo owners)……………………..773 381 5253

LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program)………..312-795-8800

Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly (social support for the elderly)…………312-455-1000

Pro Se Court, Rm 602, Daley Center (for claims up to $1500)……….312-603-5626

Rental Assistance & Utility Assistance………311 or 312.744.5000, ask for short term help

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

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

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

Discrimination

Access Living (disability 226-1687TDD-hearing impaired)………312-640-2100

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

Commission on Human Relations (all discrimination complaints)…312-744-4111

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

John Marshall Law School Fair Housing Legal clinic…………312-786-2267

Latinos United (referrals and trainings)………….312-226-0151

Foreclosure

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

Recorder of Deeds……………………………………312-603-5050

(Give them PIN# to see if apt. has a case #, if it has a case number call Chancery Court 312-603-5133)

Neighborhood Housing Services (landlords facing foreclosure)…………….773-329-4010

Tenants in foreclosure (income guideline & costs)

Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing (referral must be faxed).……312- 784-3507

(Statewide)……………………….855-207-8347

Low-Income Housing Resources:

www.ILHousingSearch.org

Bickerdike Apartments (low-income housing)…………………………………………773-227-6332
– Provides housing for low-income tenants.

Chicago Housing Authority…………………………………………………….. …….. (312) 742-8500
– The Housing Choice Voucher Program is a federal housing rental assistance program. It allows low-
income families to rent good housing in the private market. The voucher program pays a portion of their rent each month directly to the property owner or manager.

Cook County Housing Authority…………………………………………………………(312)542-4728
– Provides access to decent, safe, and affordable housing to low and moderate income individuals, families,
elderly and/or disabled within suburban Cook County.

Earthly Women Corp. ……………………………………………………………………..708 822 3786
– Serves women and single parents.

East Lake Management & Development Corp…………………………………..……..312.842.5500
– Offers affordable housing to tenants throughout the chicagoland area.

Habitat Corp……………………………………………………………………..…….….(312)527-5700
– Provides housing for low-income tenants.

Heartland Alliance……………………………………………………………………..….312- 660-1300
– They build and advocate for safe, high-quality housing and supportive services for people experiencing
homelessness, poverty, or chronic illness.

Hispanic Housing Development Corporation………………………………………… (312) 602-6500
– Provides housing for low-income families and the elderly.

Housing Opportunities and Maintenance for the Elderly (H.O.M.E.)………….……. 773-921-3200
– Committed to improving the quality of life for Chicago’s low-income elderly, Housing Opportunities and
Maintenance for the Elderly (H.O.M.E.) helps seniors remain independent and part of their community by
offering opportunities for intergenerational living and by providing a variety of citywide support services.

Housing Opportunities for Women…………………………………………….………(773) 465-5770
– Their goal is to help homeless women and children exit the homeless shelter system as quickly as possible
by providing rental subsidies to secure permanent housing. They also offer employment services.

IL Housing Development Authority……………………………………………….…… (312)836-5200
– Help create and fund affordable housing programs across the state.

Mercy Housing Lakefront Office………………………………………………………….312.447.4500
– To create stable, vibrant and healthy communities by developing, financing and operating affordable,
program-enriched housing for families, seniors and people with special needs who lack the economic
resources to access quality, safe housing opportunities.

Landlords seeking assistance

Chicago Rents Right…….………………312-742-7369

Spanish Coalition for Housing…………773-276-7633

Community Investment Corporation……………312 258 0070

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

Neighborhood Housing Services (landlords facing foreclosure)…………….773-329-4010

Resources for Homeowners:

Partners In Community Building, Inc…………….312.328.0873
– Financial Literacy, Credit Repair, Other services

Translation Services:

Chinese American Service League (Translation, Southside)…………………312-791-0418

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

Polish American Association……………………………………………..773-282-8206

Resources for writing letters or other areas of support (citywide)

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

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

Action Alert: Save Our Security Deposits

There are 550,000 renter households in the city of Chicago. On Tuesday, April 27th, 2010, they’ll all have a serious matter at stake: their security deposits.

In response to the foreclosure crisis, Mayor Daley has proposed a bill that would make banks that foreclose on a building responsible for the security deposits.  Chicagoland Apartment Association (CAA) has responded by attaching an audacious and dangerous amendment to this bill.

The CAA amendment would allow landlords and management companies to keep the security deposit and interest of their tenants, penalty free, unless the tenant requests their money back in writing.

In 1986, aldermen debated how to get landlords to comply with the RLTO’s security deposit requirements. The consensus was strong penalties for violations as the most cost effective method to get landlords to comply. The CAA amendment sharply limits those penalties by eliminating consequences for mismanagement of the tenant’s money until the tenant writes a letter.

This amendment puts the burden on the tenant to annually notify the landlord to fulfill their legal obligations. It will have a disparate impact on the most vulnerable tenants, particularly those with literacy, writing, and language issues, and for those tenants with landlords who are hard to contact. MTO and renters in the city of Chicago will not allow this to happen.

  • Today: Call Mayor Daley and thank him for protecting tenants impacted by foreclosure. Ask him to oppose the Chicagoland Apartment Association’s unreasonable amendment. Call him now at 312-744-3300.

  • Call Alderman Stone, Chairman of the Buildings Committee, and ask him to strike down CAA’s amendment to Chicago’s security deposit laws.  Call him now at 773-764-5050.

  • Call your Alderman and ask him or her to be a champion for your rights.

  • Tuesday, April 27th: Come and show City Hall that you will not tolerate your security deposit rights taken away.
    Where: City Hall, 121 N Lasalle St, 2nd Floor Lobby
    When: 9:30am-11:30am this Tuesday, April 27th

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 Deposits – 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.

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

What happens if my landlord refuses to return my security deposit?

The Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance states that when a tenant moves out, the landlord has 30 days to give the tenant an itemized list of any repairs or deductions they intend on withholding from the security deposit, including receipts/estimates. The landlord has a total of 45 days to return the remaining amount of the deposit, plus interest. If the landlord does not provide the tenant with a list of deductions within 30 days of vacating the unit, they must return the full deposit amount with 45 days of move-out. If they fail to comply, you can sue the landlord for twice the amount of the deposit, plus courts costs and attorney fees. To request your deposit, use Squared Away Chicago to send your landlord a legal notice. If your landlord still does not return the deposit, contact MTO for an attorney referral.

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 Chicago’s Municipal Code. It is meant to inform, but not to advise. Before enforcing your rights, you may want to seek the advice of an attorney who can analyze the facts of your case and apply the law to these facts.

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