Tenant Rights

General Questions
Breaking a Lease
Maintenance/Repair
Security Deposit
Eviction

General Questions

Q: What is the maximum amount my rent can be raised each year?
A: There is no maximum. Illinois is not a “rent control” state; therefore, as long as your lease does not contain any explicit limitation, your landlord is free to raise the rent however much he/she wishes.

Q: When is my rent considered late?
A: If it is paid after the agreed upon date (as listed in your lease). The law in Illinois does not allow a “grace period”, even if your lease allows you a “grace period” before a late fee is imposed.

Q: How much does it cost to hire you as my attorney?
A: Nothing. While we keep accurate records of our time and bill at an hourly rate, we will seek our fees directly from your landlord—not you. There are fee-shifting provisions in the laws/ordinances at issue which allow for attorneys’ fees to be recovered from landlords. The reason for this is to allow tenants like yourself to have access to the advice and representation of an attorney, without worrying about how you will pay for it. In addition, it dissuades landlords from violating these laws/ordinances, because they know that if they do, they will not only have to pay you, but also pay your attorneys.

Breaking a Lease

Q: If I choose to move out of my apartment before the end of my lease, is my landlord supposed to help me end the lease?
A: Yes. After you move out, your landlord must actively seek out and show the apartment to prospective new tenants until it is re-rented.

Q: Can I get out of my lease without penalty if I get transferred to a job out of state or need to move out of state due to a family emergency?
A: Not necessarily. A job transfer or move due to family emergency does not by itself legally cancel your lease. There are ways to make this possible however; therefore, contact the Law Offices of Matthew W. Kiverts for a free consultation to discuss your rights.

Q: If my landlord verbally tells me I can get out of my lease without penalty, and I decide to move out, can I still legally be penalized?
A: Possibly. Any agreement made ought to be made in writing. Document everything to avoid any unnecessary confusion and/or penalty.

Maintenance/Repair

Q: Should I stop paying my rent to pressure my landlord into repairing things that need to be fixed
in my apartment?

A: No. The law only allows you to withhold a portion of your rent. You must still pay an amount equivalent to the actual reduced value of the apartment.

Q: Can I pay a reduced rent if I have already told my landlord about the repairs that are needed and he failed to make the repairs?
A: Written notice of the problems would be required first. There are city ordinances that spell this out in further detail which must be consulted and followed; therefore, contact the Law Offices of Matthew W. Kiverts for a free consultation to discuss your rights.

Q: Can my landlord evict me for complaining about problems in the apartment and repairs that are needed?
A: No. It would be a retaliatory act and is illegal.

Security Deposit

Q: Can a landlord keep my security deposit from me after I move out of my apartment and ask for it back?
A: Yes, but the law says your landlord can only do so for two reasons: (1) you owe the landlord rent; or, (2) if you caused damage to the apartment beyond normal “wear and tear”, and the landlord can prove that he spent money to repair that damage. Please note that there are steps that your landlord must follow; therefore, please contact the Law Offices of Matthew W. Kiverts
for a free consultation to discuss your rights.

Q: Does my landlord need to pay me interest on my security deposit?
A: In most properties in Chicago and Evanston you should be paid interest on your security deposit. Elsewhere in Illinois, your landlord is only required to pay you interest if the building where you live(d) has twenty-five (25) or more apartments/units.

Q: I’m moving out. Does my landlord need to return my security deposit before I move?
A: No. In Chicago, the security deposit which the landlord is holding is actually the property of the tenant. Within 30 days of moving out, the landlord should notify you, in writing, whether he is going to make any deductions from your security deposit for repairs for damages you caused. If the landlord does not notify you of damages, then the landlord is obligated to return the security deposit within 45 days of your moving out. If the landlord notifies you of the estimated cost of repairs, he has an additional 30 days to furnish you with paid receipts.

If your landlord has:
1. not returned your deposit after you moved; or
2. failed to pay interest on your security deposit; or
3. unfairly claimed your deposit for repairs; or
4. only returned part of your deposit

Please contact the Law Offices of Matthew W. Kiverts for a free consultation to discuss your rights.

Q: If my landlord is wrong (has not returned security deposit and/or paid interest on security deposit), how much does he have to pay me as punishment.
A: More than you may think. Not only that, but he will also have to pay your attorneys’ fees. Many of these cases are pretty cut and dry and can be resolved outside of court; therefore, please contact the Law Offices of Matthew W. Kiverts for a free consultation to discuss your rights.

Eviction

Q:Can my landlord throw me out of my apartment?
A: No. Only a County Sheriff can legally remove you from your apartment.

Q: Can my landlord go to County Sheriff and tell him to come throw me out of my apartment?
A: No. Your landlord first has to take you to Court and the Court has to issue an order ordering you to move out of your apartment. It is only after a court order has been issued that a County Sheriff can legally remove you from your apartment.

Q: Can my landlord change the locks to my apartment and not give me a key?
A: No. In Chicago, it is a criminal offense for your landlord to lock you out of your apartment like that. It is also improper in the rest of Illinois.

Q: Can my landlord shut off my utilities?
A: No. In Chicago, it is a criminal offense for your landlord to do that. It is also improper in the rest of Illinois.

If you have any questions or would like our assistance, please contact the Law Offices of Matthew W.Kiverts at (312) 632-1017 for a free consultation. You will speak to an attorney who will take as much time as necessary to answer any questions you may have, and discuss your rights. You may also email us or use our online request form found on this page. We look forward to speaking with you.