Renter Rights 101: Don’t Let them Lock You Out!

Renter Rights 101: Don’t Let them Lock You Out!






In the City of Chicago, it happens everyday.  Rent is late.  Maybe there were a few furlough days at work.  Or an emergency repair.  Whatever the reason, it happens and often to no fault of your own.  But what now?  The first step: Don’t Panic.  Understand that because a lease is a contract, it is a subject to legal proceedings.  Legal proceedings mean there are specific steps that need to be taken and these things take time.  The next step is to know what comes next.

Your Landlord MUST Give you Notice in Writing

In the City of Chicago, where there is a lease and the tenant fails to pay rent, the landlord, MUST give written notice to the tenant.  This notice must give the tenant at least five days to remedy the default.  The time period starts from the day that notice is given.  That means if rent is due on the first and the notice isn’t given until the third, the tenant cannot file eviction on the fifth.  He or she must wait until after the eight to file eviction proceedings.  If he or she files an eviction proceeding, the paperwork must be served by the Sheriff.  The Landlord cannot personally hand you the documents.  IF you are aware of an eviction proceeding, contact an attorney immediately.  Proceedings move fairly quickly, so time is of the essence

Can My Landlord Lock me Out?

The mere fact of being late with rent or even the  filing of an eviction DOES NOT give the landlord the right to  lock you out of the apartment.  In the City of Chicago, it is illegal for a landlord to lock out a tenant or change locks to keep the tenant out of the apartment.  In addition, the City of Chicago protects tenants from “constructive eviction” wherein the landlord makes the dwelling uninhabitable.  Examples include removing doors, cutting off essential utilities like heat or water.  If

I’ve Been Locket Out! What do I do?

The police are the first line of defense in lockout matters.  Make sure to call the police and retain a written copy of the incident report.  It’s very important to document the matter.  Do not counter with action, such as breaking windows or taking the door off the hinges.  While no doubt coming home to a locked apartment can stir all kinds of emotion – anger, resentment, fear  - try to stay calm.  In the long run, it will pay out because the landlord has committed an illegal act and you can be compensated for these actions.  In fact, the statute advises that the landlord shall be fined $200 to $500 for each day the lockout occurs or continues.  The statute goes on to say that the tenant may sue the landlord to recover possession of the unit and twice the actual damages sustained or two months’ rent, whichever is greater. 

Have you been locked out?  Call the Shimotake Law Firm today!

Landlords in the City of Chicago do not have the right to be cowboys and take the law into their own hands.  When a tenant is behind on rent, there is a simple procedure to follow and yet, so many landlords choose not to follow.  If you or someone you know is victim of this illegal act, don’t hesitate to call the Shimotake Law Firm today at (312) 620-6499.  Our experienced and trusted attorneys will get you the relief you need!