|What Can I Do If There Is a Problem With the Condition of My Apartment?||
Last updated: July 2009
Your landlord must provide you with a safe and livable apartment. That means:
• Making necessary repairs to the plumbing, heating, and electrical systems.
• The landlord should maintain walls, windows, and roofs and make sure they are in good condition.
• Your landlord must also follow the laws in the state of Illinois building codes.
Tell your landlord right away that you have a problem:
• Make sure you tell the landlord in person and by sending a letter. Make sure, too, that you date the letter and keep a copy for yourself.
• If the landlord agrees to repair the problem, ask when the repair will be made. The repair should be made within 14 days after you request the repair.
• Keep track of each time that you have asked your landlord to fix the problem.
• Take pictures of the apartment to show what needs to be fixed.
If you think that the problem is serious enough, contact the state building inspector.
• Depending on the situation, it may take up to three weeks for the building inspector to come and check the problem.
• If there is an emergency; for example, if you have no heat, tell the building inspector that it is an emergency and they will respond sooner. They should respond within 24 hours.
• After the building inspector comes to your apartment, be sure to ask for a copy of the report, to use against the landlord, if necessary in a small claims suit.
No. Your landlord cannot evict you for complaining to the state building inspector. It is against the law for your landlord to evict you for seeking repairs of problems that violate the building code. If your landlord tries to evict you within a year of your complaint, you will have a defense against the eviction. If you get court papers for an eviction case, you should contact a lawyer immediately.
For tenants living in most types of apartment buildings, you can have a professional contractor repair violations of the local building code, and deduct the cost from your rent. This is called “repair and deduct.” To do so, you must:
• Send your landlord a written notice stating that you intend to correct the conditions at the landlord’s expense.
• Send this notice by certified mail with return receipt.
• Wait 14 day for your landlord to send someone to perform the repairs.
• If your landlord does not respond, you may have a professional perform the work. Keep a copy of the paid bill for your records.
• Submit a copy of the paid bill to your landlord. You may then deduct the cost of the repair from your next month’s rent. The reasonable cost of the repair must not exceed $500 or half of your rent, whichever is less. For example, if your rent is over $1,000, you can only spend $500 on the repairs.
You do not have the right to use “repair and deduct” if you live in one of the following types of buildings:
• Owner Occupied Rental Properties Containing 6 or Fewer Units
• Public Housing
• Co-op Housing
• Commercial Buildings
• Mobile Homes located in a Mobile Home Park
For a list of organizations in your area that may be able to help you, enter your zip code.
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