"Intent to Vacate" in Illinois of Chicago? Any landlords or renters with experience?

  1. Hi ladies,

    I loathe my apartment. I live in an ancient Chicago brownstone above a psychotic neighbor who screams obscenities, I don't have either central heat or air conditioning (just a radiator that's turned on only long enough so that the water doesn't freeze in the pipes), my telephone jacks have been painted over so when I chipped the paint out to plug in my phone and internet connection neither of them would work, my landlord is a complete jerk who refuses to fix anything AND raised my rent despite the fact that I've been a model tenant who has never paid rent a day late. When I tell people how much I pay, they invariably say that I have been incredibly ripped off.

    I renewed my lease during a period when I was working 100 hours a week including weekends and couldn't even begin to think about packing up my stuff. Like, it literally wasn't going to happen because I was sleeping at the office. And he wouldn't extend my lease: it was a year or nothing. I think he knew he had me between a rock and a hard place.

    Anyway, I am not willing to move if this can affect my credit. However, I saw an "Intent to Vacate" form on my landlord's website. I've done some research online but am having a hard time finding out whether or not I can fill out this form and simply leave, or if he can still go after me?

    By the way, I have no deposit. So I'm not afraid of losing any money, just having my credit wrecked. I had a HUGE move-in fee that was nonrefundable, which was completely stupid becasue when I moved into the apartment, the previous renter had just moved out that morning, and nobody had even swept the place. His hair was in the shower, nails were still in the walls, and the oven hadn't been cleaned for what looked like a year.

    Any advice? I just want out, but not if it will hurt my credit. Can a landlord go after you for leaving a lease if you fill out an intent to vacate form?

    Thank you.
  2. Well, we used to rent in Chicago and have rented in Philadelphia and my MIL rents here in the burb of DC and they all have the same policy. You can ALWAYS leave your lease, but they can and will hold you responsible for the rent until the apt. is rented again. For high demand apts., it's not usually a problem because there are waiting lists and you can pretty much KNOW that someone will be back in that apt. within a month, but... if it's a hard to rent place or the landlord isn't motivated to rent, he can hold you responsible for the rent. Now, how LONG he can hold you responsible varies. In Philly our lease had a 3 month cap on the lease penalty.

    But... I know there are laws that protect tenants from crappy landlords and you can get out of leases that way. Like, if you can verify your heat isn't right or that things aren't being repaired. It gives the landlord a chance to repair things, but it also gives you an out if he doesn't hold his end up.

    How much of your lease do you have left?
  3. ^^
    Hi berryblondeboys, my lease is up in October. I'm looking through the "Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance Summary with Addendum" but it says nothing about what happens when you leave before a lease is up.

    I have no idea if my apartment is "high demand" or not, or how motivated my landlord is to rent (he doesn't really seem to be, since his office is supposed to be open from 9 - 5 everyday but rarely is anyone ever there) .My apartment is in Lincoln Park, in a desirable yuppie neighborhood, but as I said, it's a very old Chicago brownstone walk-up.

    From prior experience, my friends who have ditched leases have never been penalized. I don't want to count on having the same luck. Furthermore, I'm not interested in screwing my landlord or anything like that. My parents also own rental properties (but in another state) so I wouldn't want to do anything to anyone else that I wouldn't want done to my parents.
  4. In your copy of your lease it should say what happens if you break the lease. I would start there.
  5. Thanks, I'm looking at it online. Believe it or not, it actually doesn't say anything. It's only 3 pages long and they attached the summary of the Residential Ordinance. I did find the full-length Ordinance on City of Chicago's website, it it says that I have to pay

    (a) rent until he rents it to someone else
    (b) advertising costs
    (c) "redecorating" costs

    Umm, yeah. That sounds a little too open-ended to me. And there's no cap: just until my lease is up, so I could very well end up paying a full year, or a few months, plus his advertising costs and redocorating costs (of which my apartment needs A LOT).

    Maybe I should just stay put!
  6. By the way, I never got a check-list, never had a walk-through, nothing... so I assume I won't be held liable for the damages that were actually caused by the previous tenant. He put some weird things in the wall that I've never even see before. It looks like they're meant to HOLD nails... like, he nailed something in the wall that's meant to hold nails. Weird. Anyway, those are everywhere!
  7. I would have a chat with your landlord - tell him you're not happy and why. Then, say you'll help him find a tenant, or maybe say he can list the apt. and you will vacate when he finds someone or something like that (but you would need a notice (2-4 weeks). That way he's not out of a tenant and you aren't necessarily STUCK where you are either. It's a win-win situation. Give him a list of broken things too.

    For future reference (I used to run residence halls, so i got good at this stuff!) if they don't do a walk through, cover your butt and do one by yourself and have it duplicated and notorized and turned in to the landlord within a week of moving in. List EVERYTHING you find wrong so that he can't hold you responsible for it afterwards.
  8. I don't think that you can complain now about the move-in condition or whether the lack of amenities was hardship to you. That's all after the fact and you signed the lease agreeing to move in as it was.

    You should have a conversation with your landlord and I would leave the your negativities out as it will appear offensive to him. You should ask if you would be penalized if you leave before lease end or if you can sublet your apartment.
  9. Basically, yeah...if he wanted to, he could be an ass and make you pay rent til October as well as the listing fees he paid. I'd look into what he has agreed to provide you in the agreement. Along the lines of "All utilities are to be in working order" or "all repairs will be handled within 48 hours". If he's not handling his side of the contract, then you're more than entitled to get out of the contract and it's null and void (ie, he can't make you pay anything).
  10. If you do terminate the lease early, your landlord does have a duty to mitigate as you stated above:

    § 735 ILCS 5/9-213.1. Duty of landlord to mitigate damages

    Sec. 9-213.1. Duty of landlord to mitigate damages. After January 1, 1984, a landlord or his or her agent shall take reasonable measures to mitigate the damages recoverable against a defaulting lessee.

    "Moreover, to aid in the mitigation of damages, the landlord must permit the original tenant an opportunity to find a subtenant, including advertising and showing the property to prospective tenants. If the landlord frustrates the original tenant's attempt to find a new subtenant or if the landlord misleads the abandoning tenant into believing that the efforts to find a new tenant would be useless or futile, the tenant's obligation to pay rent ceases.

    The statute imposes a duty upon the lessor to actively seek out a suitable replacement tenant, regardless of whether the tenant offers a replacement"
    (from Illinois Jurisprudence)

    Essentially I (not licensed in Illinois) think that you have 3 options:

    1) Look for any clause in lease that allows for a notice of early terminatation etc., which I think you already did. If nothing stated, speak with your landlord. They may be willing to work with you, though from what you have already said, that is doubtful.

    2) Find someone to take over the lease for you.

    3) Give the landlord some notice in writing to end the lease and be prepared to pay some sort in damages.

    Oh, and make sure you take plenty of photos when you do move out.

    Do you have any friends licensed in Illinois? They would likely know more about the specific laws in that jurisdiction. Hope that helps a little.
  11. Thank you, berryblondeboys! I didn't even think of that. I didn't have a deposit so I figured I had nothing to lose. Maybe I'm wrong.

    I definitely got myself into this so I realize it's not anyone's fault but mine! I don't want to seem like a spoiled princess who suddenly decides (a year and a half later) she doesn't like something and then just ditches it. I will try to go about it a responsible way at least...
  12. Hi lawgirl! That is really nice of you to look that up for me, I sincerely appreciate it.

    I think the Chicago laws are slightly different from the state of Illinois, hence why we have our own very lengthy Residential Ordinance Agreement between Landlord and Tenant. Or maybe the Illinois law is the higher authority? Not sure. Either way, this isn't looking too bright for me!
  13. So what I have learned moving from California to Chicago:

    1. Do not assume every apartment has air-conditioning just because every apartment in California does.
    2. That giant metal thing in the corner is called a "radiator" and it's more noisy than it is effective at heating.
    3. Do not assume the landlord is your mom. He wants your moolah!
    4. Do not live on the fourth floor of a walk-up.
    5. It really sucks when someone moves in beneath you who is constantly screaming the f-word.

    Maybe this will help someone else!
  14. No problem. Yes, took a look at the City municipal code. Essentially the same regarding the mitigation of damages:

    5-12-120 Subleases.

    If the tenant terminates the rental agreement prior to its expiration date, except for cause authorized by this chapter, the landlord shall make a good faith effort to re-rent the tenant's dwelling unit at a fair rental, which shall be the rent charged for comparable dwelling units in the premises or in the same neighborhood. The landlord shall accept a reasonable sublease proposed by the tenant without an assessment of additional fees or charges.

    If the landlord succeeds in re-renting the dwelling unit at a fair rental, the tenant shall be liable for the amount by which the rent due from the date of premature termination to the termination of the initial rental agreement exceeds the fair rental subsequently received by the landlord from the date of premature termination to the termination of the initial rental agreement.

    If the landlord makes a good-faith effort to re-rent the dwelling unit at a fair rental and is unsuccessful, the tenant shall be liable for the rent due for the period of the rental agreement. The tenant shall also be liable for the reasonable advertising costs incurred by the landlord in seeking to re-rent the dwelling unit. (Prior code § 193.1-12; Added. Coun. J. 9-8-86, p. 33771; Amend. 11-6-91, p. 7196)

    However, like you said, you could be liable for the full rents. How is the rental turnover in your area? Do you think that a replacement tenant could be found fairly easily? I'm guessing finding a friend or acquaintance to take it over is not an option with this one :smile:
    Good luck!
  15. IntlSet, I have no advice, even though I rent, here it's a month to month lease... and I've been here 17 years. I do know that after all this time, they can't get me for repairs, especially when there has been incidents with the sewer and neighbors that caused damage I'm not reponsible for...

    But I wanted you to know I'm thinking of you and hope you get out of this happily and in a way that's satisfactory for you, with NO damage to your credit. Best of luck!!