Oliver Jury, our Landlord-Tenant Liaison, receives an average of 47 calls per month. Here are some tips from him to help tenants to be proactive rather than reactive in their dealings with landlords:
1. Always pay your rent. At any point that rent goes unpaid, landlords have the right to issue a notice for payment. If rent is unpaid, landlords can file for possession of the unit in court. In other words, they can begin the eviction process. The mere filing for possession does not automatically result in eviction, but future landlords and lending institutions will see that there was legal action taken, which can damage your credit and can prevent you from accessing housing. If your unit needs repairs, and the landlord is not addressing them despite proper notice, depending on the severity, you may have the right to make repairs yourself (keep the receipts) and deduct that cost from your rent. Call Oliver for more information on “repair and deduct.” Make sure you get written receipts for your rent payments if you pay in cash or by money order.
2. Scrutinize your potential landlord. They say that when you interview with a potential employer, you should also be doing a little interviewing of your own. It is the same with landlords. They are assessing you, as they should be. But you should also be assessing them. And one of the main characteristics of a good landlord is someone who is actively involved with her or his property.
3. Read your lease before you sign it! Often, there are lease provisions added to a standard lease that clarify gray areas. For example, who is responsible for shoveling snow? Paying utilities? You never know what you’ll be held accountable for if you don’t read every clause. Reading your lease will also ensure you get your security deposit back in full. It’s the best way to avoid costly deductions from your deposit.
4. Remember that landlords cannot evict you for standing up for yourself. Learn your rights as a tenant and how to exercise them.
Oliver can be reached at (847) 501-5760, ext. 411 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
He has hours in Evanston at the Levy Center on the first Thursday of every month from 9am-12pm.
He also has hours at the Civic Center in Evanston all other Thursdays (except the first Thursday of each month) from 9am-12pm.