Landlord/Tenant Law

If you're planning to rent property for the first time, you may have questions and concerns. The following tips will help you prepare to become a tenant.

In addition, 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 at 815-753-1701 for a free consultation.

Tips for First-Time Renters

Document the Condition of the Property

The main complaint we hear is that a landlord did not return a renter's security deposit. Document the condition of the property when you move in and when you move out by making a written list of all problems and taking pictures or making a video recording. Do a walk-through with your landlord when you 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.

Contact Your Landlord for Repairs

Contact your landlord immediately if repairs are needed. Follow up by sending your landlord a letter or email. Keep a copy of the letter for your records. If repairs are not made in a timely manner, call the City of DeKalb Building and Code Compliance Division at 815-748-2070.

Communicate With Your Roommate(s)

Good communication with your roommate(s) is important. Disagreements are inevitable, but they don’t have to turn into a disaster.

You Have a Right to Privacy From Your Landlord

Your landlord must give you one hour's notice before entering your apartment for any reason, unless there is an emergency.

Ask Your Landlord Before Subleasing

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.

Your Landlord Is Prohibited From Discriminating Against You

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.

Get Renters Insurance

Renters 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.

Your Landlord Is Often Responsible for Pest Control

Your landlord is often responsible for taking care of any infestation problems caused by outside conditions, such as cockroaches, termites or mice. Beware of bed bugs as well.