BERNSTEIN, ESQ., ON CHICAGO TENANTS' RIGHTS
By: Paul Bernstein, Attorney At Law
© Paul Bernstein, Esq. 1998, All Rights Reserved
Chapter 10: MORE REMEDIES AVAILABLE TO TENANTSIn chapter 9, we considered rent reduction under Section 5-12-110(d) of the RLTO. In this chapter we deal with some other sections of 110.
Failure to Provide Essential Services
Sub-Section (f) of Section 5-12-110 of the RLTO relates to the landlord's failure to provide "essential services" such as heat, running water, hot water, electricity, gas or plumbing. The tenant must provide the landlord with written notice specifying in detail the material noncompliance or failure on the landlord's part. This section does provide some guidance as to how mailing of such notice may be given, and, after such notice, during the period of time that the landlord fails to comply the tenant has a series of remedies including:
(2) recovering damages based on the reduction in the fair rental value of the dwelling unit; or
(3) obtaining substitute housing and here the tenant is excused from paying rent for the period of time the landlord is not in compliance. Further, under this subsection, the tenant may recover the cost of the reasonable value of the substitute housing up to an amount equal to the monthly rent.
There are further, more specific remedies under this section as follows:
(5) Terminate the rental agreement by written notice to the landlord if the material noncompliance or failure persists for more than 72 hours after the tenant has notified the landlord of the problems. The tenant must move out within 30 days after the expiration of the 72 hour time period.
Fire or other casualty
Subsection (g) covers the events of "Fire or casualty damage." If the damage from a fire or casualty is severe enough, the tenant, under subsection (1) of subsection (g) can immediately vacate the premises and notify the landlord in writing within 14 days thereafter of the tenants' intention to terminate the rental agreement, in which case the rental agreement terminates as of the date of the fire or casualty.
Other provisions of subsection (g) relate to the partial occupancy of a unit damaged by fire or other casualty or situations where repairs are undertaken by the landlord.
If you are faced with any of these types of problems, you should read the RLTO and consult with either a community based tenant's rights organization or an attorney or both. You have strong, alternative remedies, but you must exercise your rights carefully and precisely.
In this and the previous chapter we have taken a closer look at Section 5-12-110 of the RLTO. You have the right, under the RLTO, to take the actions allowed and provided for, but in my experience, even if tenants have properly followed the requirements of the RLTO and more particularly, if a tenant is paying an amount of rent less then the originally negotiated monthly rental, the landlord of residential units covered by the RLTO will threaten to file and file an eviction action against the tenant, even though such "Retaliatory Conduct" is prohibited by the RLTO under Section 5-12-150. I will deal with retaliatory evictions in a subsequent chapter.
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