Saturday, September 20, 2008

Mount Prospect Renter Rights

It's not great, but it's unique. The village of Mount Prospect in Illinois has its own local code governing the landlord tenant relationship: Title 18, Chapter 23. It applies to all rentals with few exceptions, even covering single-family homes, condo units, duplexes, and owner-occupied buildings.

RENTAL AGREEMENTS IN MOUNT PROSPECT

All rental agreements and renewals in Mount Prospect have to be in writing, signed and dated by everyone, and given to everyone at the time of exection, according to section 23.1804(A)(3) which mandates that:

"All rental agreements between landlords and tenants, including renewal rental agreements to the extent not otherwise excepted in subsection B of this section, must be in writing, dated and signed by both parties with signed copies provided to both at the time of signing."

The rest of Illinois (except DeKalb and Oak Park) recognizes unwritten rental agreements; even Chicago.

Section 23.1804 also prohibits waivers of tenants' rights under the Mount Prospect code, providing at subpart (C) that:

"1. Except as otherwise provided by this article, no rental agreement may provide that the tenant or the landlord:

a. Agrees to waive or to forego rights or remedies under this article"

This subpart can make Mount Prospect interesting because:

"2. A provision prohibited by subsection C1 of this section included in a rental agreement is unenforceable. If a landlord deliberately attempts to enforce any provision in a rental agreement which is prohibited, the tenant may recover an amount totalling not more than two (2) months' rent and such damages, costs and fees as a court shall determine and award."

The C1(a) prohibition lets a tenant or their lawyer get creative, scouring rental agreements for provisions that purport to waive any of a tenant's rights under the rest of the Mount Prospect code. If it can be proven the landlord "deliberately attempted" to enforce the waiver provision, the tenant can collect up to two months' rent as penalty damages plus their court costs and attorney fees.

SECURITY DEPOSITS IN MOUNT PROSPECT

The Mount Prospect security deposit rules are somewhat unique also, extending deposit return regulation to all units in the village (not just buildings with five or more units, like the statewide Illinois Security Deposit Return Act). The Mount Prospect code requires at section 23.1806(A)(2)-(4) that:

"2. Upon termination of the tenancy, property or money held by the landlord as security or prepaid rent may be applied to the payment of accrued rent and to the payment of actual damages, which the landlord has suffered by reason of the tenant's noncompliance with section 23.1805 of this article, provided the landlord, within thirty (30) days of the date that the tenant has vacated the rental unit, delivers upon tenant a written notice, which shall include the reason for retaining the security deposit or portion thereof, including an itemized statement for any claim of unpaid rent and an itemized statement of any damages, together with copies of the actual paid damage, repair or replacement receipts or the estimated cost therefor, and provided further that the landlord has complied with any requested walk through inspection, as provided in subsection A3 of this section, and has included, as part of such notice, any inspection checklists disclosing that the damage in question occurred while the rental premises were occupied by the tenant. If an estimated cost is given, the landlord shall furnish the tenant with paid receipts or copies thereof within thirty (30) days from the date the statement showing an estimated cost was furnished to the tenant, as required by this subsection. In the event no such notice or notices with the required statements, checklists, and evidence of estimated costs, if required, is furnished to the tenant as provided herein, then the landlord shall return the security deposit in full to the tenant within forty five (45) days of the date that the tenant vacated the rental unit. For purposes of this provision, the decorating of a rental unit after a tenant's departure, including painting and rug shampooing, shall not be considered as damage and the cost thereof shall not be charged to the security deposit unless the rental agreement specifically provides that painting and rug shampooing are included as a part of the tenant's cleaning responsibility upon vacating the rental unit.

3. Where requested by either party to a rental agreement, a walk through inspection shall be made by the landlord and tenant, prior to the commencement of the rental term and/or again at the termination thereof and an inspection checklist of all damaged or missing items shall be made at the time of the walk through inspection and a copy thereof furnished to each party. Such request shall be in writing, shall be personally served not less than forty eight (48) hours, or mailed not less than five (5) business days before the date of the requested inspection and such inspections shall be conducted, unless otherwise agreed, on the landlord's regular business days and during his regular business hours. Items, which are checked as missing or damaged prior to commencement of the rental term, shall not be charged against the security deposit of the tenant. Upon request of the landlord or tenant, a representative of the village's environmental health department may accompany the parties on such walk through inspections.

Where a walk through inspection is requested, as provided herein, no portion of a security deposit shall be applied against damages incurred to a rental unit, unless the notice of damages required in subsection A2 of this section, includes the completed inspection checklist(s) showing the occurrence of such damage during the rental term.

4. Landlord's notice of the reasons for retaining the security deposit, as set forth in subsection A2 of this section, and either party's request for a walk through inspection, as set forth in subsection A3 of this section, must be sent certified mail, receipt requested, or served personally, in which case the party receiving the request, which may include the respective landlord, landlord's agent, lessee, or member of the household over the age of twelve (12), must be requested to sign in receipt thereof on a duplicate copy of the notice or request. Evidence that the notice or request was sent certified mail and signed for or otherwise returned, or that receipt of the notice or request was acknowledged on a duplicate copy, shall create a rebuttable presumption of delivery."

Only Mount Prospect and Evanston require that a landlord account in writing for their withholding from a deposit for rent. The rest of Illinois, and even Chicago do not require this. Also, only Mount Prospect and DeKalb require that a walk-through be granted a tenant who requests it. Only Mount Prospect requires that the landlord deliver their written itemized accounting for the tenant's security deposit by certified mail, or personal delivery. Finally, like only Urbana, this village code confirms that redecorating or carpet shampooing are not to be withheld for (unless the lease expressly says they are going to be).

However, it is unclear what remedy the tenant has under Mount Prospect's code when a landlord fails to comply with any of these requirements. This is why it is worth coming up with a way that the landlord's lease waives one of these requirements (not the redecorating or carpet shampooing limitations though, since those apparently can be waived), and then coming up with an argument that the landlord deliberately attempted to enforce that lease provision. This will at least get the tenant a shot a two-months' rent penalty damages plus their costs and attorney fees.

LANDLORD ENTRIES IN MOUNT PROSPECT

The code provides at section 23.1806(E) that:

"1. The landlord shall not abuse the right of access to the rental unit or use it to harass the tenant. Except in cases of emergency, the landlord shall give the tenant reasonable notice of his or her intent to enter and if at all practical may enter the unit only between eight o'clock (8:00) A.M. and eight o'clock (8:00) P.M. The landlord may enter a rental unit only for the following purposes:

a. To conduct a necessary inspection of the premises,
b. With the Village during the authorized annual license inspection or during the investigation of a complaint of violations of this Code,
c. To make necessary or agreed repairs, decorations, alterations or improvements,
d. To supply necessary or agreed services, or
e. To show the dwelling unit to prospective purchasers, mortgagees, tenants or workers.


2. The landlord may enter the rental unit without consent of the tenant in case of emergency. For purposes of this provision, the term "emergency" shall refer to a situation wherein access to the rental unit is necessary in order to prevent damage or destruction to the unit, or to the fixtures, equipment, appliances, furniture and other personal property contained therein, or in order to protect any person from injury. Nonpayment or delinquent payment of rent shall not constitute an emergency."


If a landlord or tenant are bad, and don't follow the above rules for giving notice about, and allowing, apartment entries, then they may be subject to the civil penalties of section 23.1811(C), "Abuse of Access by Landlord and Tenant" which mandates that:

"1. If the tenant refuses to allow lawful access, the landlord may obtain injunctive relief to compel access or terminate the rental agreement. In either case, the landlord may recover an amount equal to two (2) months' rent and such actual damages, costs and fees as a court shall determine and award.

2. If the landlord makes an unlawful entry or a lawful entry in an unreasonable manner or makes repeated demands for entry otherwise lawful, but in a manner which has the effect of harassing the tenant, the tenant may obtain injunctive relief to prevent the recurrence of the conduct or terminate the rental agreement. In either case, the tenant may recover an amount equal to not more than two (2) months' rent and such actual damages, costs and fees as a court shall determine and award. "

There is a lot to remember in the access rules, but most commonly occurring are landlord entries to show a unit to prospective renters or buyers without giving the tenant at least two days' advance notice. This may entitle the tenant to the damages equal to two months' rent plus costs and attorney fees. A landlord's lease provision purporting to allow apartment showings on 24 hours' notice, for example, is a waiver of the rules under section 23.1806(E) and unenforceable.

LEASE TERMINATIONS IN MOUNT PROSPECT

Like Chicago, and to a lesser extent Evanston, Mount Prospect offers tenants a number of ways they can take advantage of their landlord's failures to comply with the code's disclosure requirements (of the landlord's address and phone number, for example) and send a written notice demanding the required disclosure in 14 days. Failures to provide essnetial services (gas, water, electric) or failure to maintain, or failure to deliver possession (former tenant is still in the unit) can all be reasons a tenant can deliver the 14 day notice. Tenants should look at section 23.1808 for details about terminating their lease in Mount Prospect.

The foregoing does not cover all of the Mount Prospect code, but highlights the most likely encountered sections when assisting renters in that village.

3 comments:

JustinBarley said...

end of tenancy cleaning But truly at the end all that matters is to get the place in really clean and tidy condition. How are you going to achieve that goal, with the help of professional end of tenancy cleaning full service, or by cleaning on your own, it’s all up to you and your resources. post tenancy cleaning

landlordchoice said...

This cannot be a great renters rights! Hope you can provide more information for landlords.

Alex Men said...

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