Important Tips for First Time Renters

  • The number one complaint we hear is the landlord did not return my security deposit.  Document the condition of the property when you first move in and then again when you move out by making a written list of all problems and by taking pictures or making a video recording.  Do a walk through with your landlord at both move in and move out.  Don’t sign anything about the apartment’s condition if you disagree with your landlord.  Your landlord can only deduct for damages beyond “normal wear and tear” and has 30 days to return your deposit.   Click here for more information and a condition report.  
  • If repairs are needed contact your landlord immediately.  Follow up by sending your landlord a letter or email.  Keep a copy of the letter for your records.  Call the City of DeKalb Building Code Enforcement Division at 815-748-2070, if repairs are not made in a timely manner. Click here for more information.
  • Good communication with your roommate(s) is important.  Disagreements are inevitable, but they don’t have to turn into a disaster. Click here to review our Roommate Survival Guide.
  • You have a right to privacy from your landlord.  Your landlord must give you 1-hour notice before entering your apartment for any reason, unless there is an emergency. Click here for more more information about your tenant rights.
  • Most leases require a landlord’s permission before subleasing, so make sure that you check with your landlord before entering into a sublease agreement.  A landlord can disapprove a sublease only for a good business reason; for example, if your potential sublessee has bad credit or a criminal record.  More information regarding subleasing can be found here.
  • Your landlord is prohibited from discriminating against you on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, military veteran, familial status (pregnant women or families with children under the age of 18), or disability by refusing to rent to you, by establishing different rules for you (such as charging you higher rent), or by providing different services or facilities for you. Read about your tenant rights and more by clicking here.
  • Renter’s insurance is a good idea and it doesn’t cost much.  This insures your personal belongings in case of fire, flood or other property damage. Click here for information on renter's insurance.
  • Your landlord is often responsible for taking care of any infestation problem (e.g., cockroaches, termites, mice) caused by outside conditions.  Beware of bed bugs too, they’ve made a comeback in the last few years.  For more information on bed bugs, click here.

Our office will perform lease reviews and act as an advocate on your behalf.  If you have any questions about your legal rights and responsibilities as a tenant, please contact our office for a free consultation at (815) 753-1701.