Top Tips for Being a Proactive Renter

Savvy Renter

(1) Know Your Neighbors

  • Speak in the hallways, elevators, or laundry room. This will help you to stay on top of any new developments in the building, i.e. foreclosure, renovations, rent increases, etc.
  • For elderly renters, knowing your neighbors can be very beneficial in the case of an emergency or if you need someone close by to check on you occasionally.
  • Learn if your building already hosts regular meetings or has some has some sort of tenant’s union. If so, join this group. If not, start one.

(2) Know Your Landlord (or Building Manager)

  • It will be easier to ask for help or be up front with your landlord if you have any trouble with the building or your unit.
  • If you understand your landlord’s demeanor you will be more able to avoid conflict.
  • Even if your relationship with your landlord is not great, difficult landlords are often more willing to work with people that they know.

(3) Know Your Rights and Responsibilities

  • Invite a housing agency or neighborhood organization to do a renter rights training.
  • Know you rights regarding repairs, retaliation, lockouts and the eviction process - these are all things that every renter should know.
  • If you live in Chicago, review the copy of the RLTO (Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance) that was attached to your lease, or pick up a copy at City Hall, or read it online.

(4) Know Your Remediation Options

  • When your landlord is not listening to your requests you may have to take the next step by writing letters, taking pictures and documenting what’s happening.
  • If the issues are repairs that you cannot or should not be fixing or cannot afford to fix on your own then review the 14 day letter methods outlined in the RLTO and the Illinois Residential Tenants' Right to Repair Act.
  • Do NOT stop paying rent completely unless you receive written authority to do so by the landlord or a judge.

(5) Know When to Seek Legal Assistance

  • When all else fails, seek legal assistance, especially if you fear that you are at risk of eviction.