When a Chicago renter signs a lease or a lease renewal they usually receive a whole raft of additional disclosures. Lease packets in the modern era can include as much as 50 pages of disclosures about health issues ranging from radon to sprinkler systems to bedbugs. Back in the spring of 2016 we ran a long series on the history of one of those disclosures, the summary of the Chicago Residential Landlord-Tenant Ordinance. Today we will be discussing the history of another one, the lead-based paint disclosure.
Next to the CRLTO summary, lead-based paint disclosures are probably the most consistent inclusion in a Chicago lease packet. By federal law, they must be included with every lease and lease renewal in residential buildings constructed prior to 1978 with the exception of senior housing. Most renters will also be familiar with the booklet titled “Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home,” which is published by the EPA in six languages and also must be included with every lease that requires a lead paint disclosure.
Benefits Outweighed Risks
Lead was known to cause severe health problems way back in the year 200 BCE. Descriptions of the effects of lead poisoning are found in medical texts dating back to the ancient Greeks, and reappear consistently from then on. Julius Caesar’s engineers advised against the use of lead pipes in the Roman aqueducts because of their harmful effects. But until the late 19th century, lead poisoning was common among heavy drinkers, painters, laborers, the military and high society women, all individuals who consistently and knowingly exposed themselves to high levels of the substance. Continue reading The History of the Lead-Based Paint Disclosure
At the July 25, 2018 meeting of the Chicago City Council, Alderman Moreno of the 1st ward proposed an amendment to Chapter 5, section 12 of the city code, also known as the Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance or CRLTO. The proposed change is currently in the hands of the council’s Committee on Housing and Real Estate. The amendment would require landlords to provide lease renewals to tenants with specific lead times dependent on the amount their rent will increase in the next term. The times required would be as follows:
- Less than 5%: 30 days
- 5-9.99%: 60 days
- 10-14.99%: 90 days
- 15% or more: 120 days
If a landlord fails to provide the proper amount of notice, the tenants’ existing lease would be extended at the current rate until the proper notice term has elapsed. As an example, if a landlord sends a 10% increase 45 days before the lease expires, the tenant could stay on for an extra 45 days after the lease expires at the old rent rate.
This is Moreno’s second major attempt at rent reform in the past four months. He first flirted with proposing a Good Cause Eviction ordinance in May. We found that idea be well-meant but near-sighted to the point of impracticality. This new proposal suffers from the same failings, and unlike its parent document it’s actually made it to the table of the city council. Continue reading Chicago’s Proposed Rent Increase Notification Law: Expectation vs. Reality
Before I start on this one I should warn you that this is going to be more of a thought piece than a statistical analysis. This is mostly because there is a dearth of statistical information on landlords as a group. While I will attempt to avoid any bleed through of my own personal biases I probably will not succeed entirely. I should also provide the standard disclaimer that I’m mostly speaking about the Chicago market here. Now with that out of the way, here we go.
It is a common assumption, almost a cliche, that landlords lean so far to the political right that they could tip over at any second. The old stereotype of the mustache twirling black hatted landlord who values money above all else and despises minorities, gays, and poor people is still very prominent. That’s the image that’s also been dogging the far right for years. It’s a PR standby that’s enforced by consistent media coverage. It’s easy to make a connection between landlords and conservatives based on the public stories of notorious individuals who tick both boxes. After all, when a residential landlord makes it into the news they’re usually in trouble for discrimination, or lobbying against rent control, or chilling in the Oval Office.
However, I would argue that for Chicago landlords the mental image you may have of a conservative landlord is not necessarily true. In fact, it’s my thought that your average Chicago landlord is probably a left-leaning independent. Continue reading The Elephant in the Room
Always check your lease and send a written heads up to your landlord before tinkering around in your apartment.
It’s practical to assume that the fragility of an object increases in direct proportion to the number of moving parts contained inside. This is why there are so many businesses dedicated to maintaining complex things like cars, computers and human bodies. This assumption also holds true for apartments – every additional feature is something else that can break. It is in fact quite common for landlords who specialize in section 8 housing to strip out as many moving parts as possible, since annual government inspections will fail if landlord-provided items are broken regardless of the cause.
We all know what a pain it is to ask your landlord to fix broken things. It’s time consuming, you might have to rearrange furniture, you might have to take time off from work to meet with maintenance workers, you might have to kennel your pet for a day. You might have to make multiple requests before broken items get fixed. Or you might even throw up your hands and resign yourself to living out the rest of your lease without the broken item. But many simple fixes are things you can do yourself without waiting for a landlord or their crew to show up. Doing these projects yourself can not only make your daily life more comfortable, but they keep your rent lower and can be great little confidence boosters. Continue reading 9 Cheap and Fast DIY Fixes That Every Renter Can Handle
This article contains many details that apply only to Chicago renters. If you do not live in Chicago, check your local laws before taking action based on information in this article.
There’s a huge number of Chicago renters with leases that expire on the last day of August, and just as many if not more with leases that expire at the end of September. If this describes you, you’ve probably already received a lease renewal offer. This may seem early to you, but Chicago CRLTO-compliant landlords can send out renewal offers as much as 3 months prior to your lease expiration date and still be on the right side of the law.
For some renters the stay-or-go decision is an easy choice. They love their apartment or they hate it, or they have a major life change in the works that will make it impossible to stay another year. The rest are faced with an extremely uncomfortable choice. Because many landlords tend to send out renewals around the same time, very few listings will be on the market for the appropriate date by the time they arrive in tenants’ mailboxes. This means that tenants must decide on the renewal without the assurance of knowing that they have somewhere else to go. Continue reading Five Things to Check Before Signing (or Refusing) a Lease Renewal