Know Your Rights: Tenant & Landlord Remedies (Part 3 of 3)

So, there's been an issue with services or the building is not up to code, here are some remedies that can be taken to fix the issues.

Tenant Remedies

For minor defects, such as refusing to fix a broken doorbell, the tenant has the right to

  1. Send a written request to the landlord asking for repairs to be made
  2. Withhold an amount of the rent that reflects the decrease in value that the lack of repair is causing, but only after 14 days of sending a written notice to the landlord. This withholding starts on the 15th day until the repairs are made.
  3. Hire someone to make the repairs (as long as they are fixing according to code) on the 15th day from the notice. The tenant can then turn in receipts for repairs made and deduct $500 or 1/2 of the rent, whichever is more. The amount deducted cannot exceed one month's rent.
  4. Sue the landlord for damages and injunctive relief.

For major issues of repair that make the house inhabitatable like a hole in the floor or ceiling the tenant can:

  1. Send a written request that repairs be done in 14 days. If they are not completed, the tenant can terminate the lease, but MUST move out completely within 30 days of giving the notice of termination.

Regarding essential services that the landlord refuses to provide (e.g. gas, electricity, etc.) or if the landlord does not maintain the building up to Code, and both previous points were not stipulated against in the lease, the tenant can:

  1. Obtain the service through other means and provide receipts to landlords. The cost can then be deducted from the rent.
  2. File suit against the depreciating value of the home that the lack of services is creating.
  3. Find substitute housing and be excused from paying rent or have the cost of the substitute housing deducted from the rent.
  4. Can start withholding an amount of the rent reflecting the depreciating value of the dwelling due to the lack of service after 24 hours of sending a written request to the landlord.
  5. Send a written request for the landlord to fix the issue, if not fixed within 72 hours, the tenant can terminate the lease, but MUST move out within 30 days.

NOTE: 4 and 5 only apply if the landlord is responsible for the lack of service not if the tenant missed payment on a utility.

Landlord Remedies

  1. If a tenant fails to pay rent,  the landlord can terminate the rental agreement., but only after giving five days notice to the tenant.
  2. If a tenant violates the Code, after sending a written request to fix the issue and waiting ten days, the landlord can terminate the rental agreement.
  3. If a tenant violates the Code or rental agreement, the landlord can also send a written request asking the tenant to fix the issue in 14 days. If not fixed, the landlord can enter the residence and fix the issue.

Here are the legal ways to go about fixing your landlord and tenant issues. Check out the first and second part of the series to know more about your rights. These posts are not exhaustive, but do cover a lot of the main issues that occur between landlords and tenants. For more information click here or here.


Read more about your rights in Chicago here:


Employment Discrimination.


Religious Discrimination.

If there's any area you would like me to write a post about email me @

Filed under: Housing

Tags: Housing Rights

Leave a comment

  • ChicagoNow is full of win

    Welcome to ChicagoNow.

    Meet our bloggers,
    post comments, or
    pitch your blog idea.

  • Advertisement:
  • Tags

  • Latest on ChicagoNow

  • Advertisement:
  • Fresh Chicago News