Landlord Problem Attorneys in Chicago
Protecting Your Rights as a Tenant
Tenants sometimes feel powerless when they have a problem with their landlord. When you are facing a dispute or issue with your landlord, the Chicago consumer protection attorneys of Edelman Combs Latturner & Goodwin, LLC can stand by your side. Unlike some other firms, we refuse to represent landlords in cases against tenants. Our attorneys have an in-depth understanding of rental ordinances – like the Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance – and use that knowledge to our advantage when resolving disputes.
Experienced Representation for Complicated Landlord Situations
The attorneys of Edelman Combs Latturner & Goodwin, LLC have years of experience protecting tenants’ rights. We understand that disputes with your landlord can be tricky and stressful.
We assist tenants who have encountered the following illegal landlord-tenant situations:
- Landlords in large buildings failing to pay or credit interest every year on security deposits
- Landlords failing to return security deposits in a timely manner or deducting charges from security deposits without proper documentation or cause
- Landlords billing for utilities without individual metering, without disclosing the formula used in writing, or adding fees for processing utility charges
- Landlords depositing security deposits in the same accounts as rent money or not telling you where your security deposit is being held
- Landlords and new purchasers converting buildings to condominiums without proper notices to tenants
- Credit reporting and collection with landlords
Clients who have encountered illegal landlord situations need to make sure they hire an attorney with experience in this area of the law. The lawyers of Edelman Combs Latturner & Goodwin, LLC know how to handle these cases effectively. If you are having a problem with your landlord, contact us for a free consultation.
Your Right to Have Your Security Deposit Returned
If you follow the rules in your lease and move out at the proper time without owing your landlord for rent or other charges (such as late fees or unpaid utility bills), your landlord is required to return your security deposit within 45 days. If you owe the landlord less than the amount of the security deposit, the landlord must return the balance.
We have noticed an increasing number of landlords refusing to return security deposits by charging tenants for a variety of items, including cleaning, painting and carpet replacement. Landlords can deduct the cost of actual damage you caused to the apartment, however, under Illinois law, landlords cannot deduct for “ordinary wear and tear.”
To protect yourself from this type of abuse, we recommend that you:
- Thoroughly clean your apartment at move-out, including the walls, inside of cabinets, stove, refrigerator and carpet.
- Request that the landlord conducts a move-out inspection in your presence to review the condition of the apartment and any possible damage or problem areas.
- Take photos of the condition of the apartment when you left, including the walls, carpet, insides of cabinets, bathroom, etc. If possible, have another credible person witness the condition of the apartment before you leave.
- Follow the landlord’s procedures for returning keys by the deadline in your lease or date your landlord has agreed to. Make sure to leave a forwarding address!
- Get in touch with your landlord if he or she does not return your security deposit within 30 days. Call them and send them a letter by certified mail requesting that they return your security deposit.
- Contact a Chicago consumer protection attorney if the landlord does not respond to your letter and return your deposit, or if they have deducted amounts from your security deposit which you believe are unjustified.
Illinois landlords are also required to pay interest on security deposits every twelve months in most cases if the tenant is not in default. In the City of Chicago, landlords must pay interest in all non-owner occupied buildings and in owner-occupied buildings that exceed six units. Outside of Chicago, if there is no local ordinance, state law requires landlords of all complexes that exceed 25 units to pay interest on security deposits. In Chicago, most landlords must also keep security deposits in a separate bank account. If you believe your landlord has not paid you security deposit interest or has deposited your security deposit into the same account as your rent payment, contact Edelman Combs Latturner & Goodwin, LLC for a free consultation.
Your Rights Regarding Utility Bills
If the landlord is billing tenants for building-wide utilities such as heat and water without individual meters, the landlord must disclose in writing the formula it is using to allocate the charges among the tenants. The landlord also cannot add additional amounts to what the utility company is charging. We have seen landlords charge tenants for “utility processing fees” and we believe such charges violate Illinois law.
If the landlord is not paying the utility bills and the utility company is threatening to cut off services to the building, tenants have rights under both Illinois law and in Chicago under the Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance (“RLTO”).
Repairs & Maintenance
Getting a landlord to make timely repairs is a constant struggle for many tenants. If you are in Chicago, in a building covered by the Chicago RLTO, the RLTO provides you with many remedies if your landlord does not make repairs. If your building is covered by the RLTO, your landlord is required to provide you with a summary of your rights under the Ordinance with your lease. In Chicago, you also have the right to be informed about any building code violations the City has found in your building.
If you are outside of Chicago, sometimes there is a local ordinance that may grant you some rights. It is illegal for Illinois landlords to retaliate against tenants for calling local authorities to complain about problems in a residential apartment. Chicago tenants have even further protection against retaliatory conduct.
If your landlord is not making necessary repairs or providing crucial services such as heat or water, you may want to:
- Complain to the local building code enforcement department. In the City of Chicago, building complaints can be reported through the City’s 311 number. However, keep in mind that if the problems are extremely severe, there is a chance the building inspector might declare the building unfit for occupancy.
- Take pictures of the problems. If there is a heating issue, keep a log of temperatures in the apartment in order to document your complaints.
- Send a letter to your landlord requesting that the repairs be made.
- Follow all RLTO requirements. In Chicago, the RLTO provides a number of different remedies depending on the severity of the problem, including terminating your lease early; making small repairs yourself and deducting the cost from your rent; and reducing your rental payments. You must follow all of the RLTO’s requirements to be successful, however, so we recommend speaking with an attorney or a tenants’ rights organization about the proper procedures to follow before taking any of these actions.
If you are seeking a tenants’ rights lawyer in Chicago to represent you in a landlord/tenant situation, count on Edelman Combs Latturner & Goodwin, LLC. Our experienced legal team has helped countless Illinois residents take action against illegal landlord activity.
We offer free initial consultations to discuss your rights and legal options. Call us at (312) 626-3585 today. Se habla español.