For those with a good sense for real estate, being a landlord can be a lucrative proposition. But as a landlord, you’re also entering into a legal contract with another party, and are responsible for certain things which you must deliver. Here’s an overview of a Chicago landlord’s most important legal obligations:
Keep the apartment habitable.
This basically includes providing hot water, heat, no environmental hazards, and a place that’s safe enough not to be a general liability to the tenants. If you’re conscientious and either can do repairs yourself or outsource to a good property management company, this should not be a problem.
Create a lease document that makes the proper disclosures.
You can’t use the lease to get out of your duties as a landlord (such as the habitability rule above). Your lease must also disclose any lead paint on the property. You need to be explicit about security deposit rules, any other relevant fees, potential inspections, etc. Our advice? Find an existing template you can modify for your purposes rather than trying to create a comprehensive lease document from scratch.
Follow the rules on evictions.
Evictions can get very messy quickly, so it’s important for landlords to follow the State of Illinois rules to a T. That means minding things like giving a tenant who has broken lease rules 10 days before filing for eviction.
When selecting tenants you are free to choose one based on the strength of his or her credit history, employment or references. However, you are not allowed to discriminate based on race, religion, national origin, sex, familial status (such as having children under age 18), sexual orientation, gender identity, or physical or mental disability. These are “protected categories” under the federal Fair Housing Act of 1968, as amended (42 U.S. Code § § 3601-3619 and 3631).
If all the above has you worried about fulfilling your legal obligations as a landlord, there’s help available! At Hales Property Management, we provide rental services that will keep you fully in the right as far as federal, state, and local laws go.
Reach out to us today, and get your first month of rental service FREE!