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By Rusty Payton | Broker in Chicago, IL
  • Know Your Landlord

    Posted Under: Rent vs Buy in Chicago, For Rent in Chicago, Rentals in Chicago  |  October 25, 2013 7:45 AM  |  454 views  |  No comments
    "A Huge Billion Dollar Slumlord." That is how one tenant describes her landlord - one of a new crop of investment firms buying and renting residential homes by the tens of thousands across the United States. This article from the Huufington Post is eye opening. The lesson here is to know your landlord. These days it is well worth your time to do a little due dilligence of your own to learn who is the atual owner of the property you wish to rent.  Are they local?  What is their reputation for maintenance and repair? Do they have local offices and management and maintenance personel? These are important questions that if you take the time to ask can make your rental home an enjoyable experience.

  • Chicago Adds New Protections for Tenants in Foreclosed Properties

    Posted Under: Foreclosure in Chicago, For Rent in Chicago, Rentals in Chicago  |  October 17, 2013 11:11 AM  |  381 views  |  1 comment
    In response to a wave of foreclosures that threatens thousands of Chicago tenants, the city council has passed an ordinance requiring foreclosing banks to treat tenants with extreme care. 

    The new law, titled “Keep Chicago Renting,” forces banks that are filing foreclosure on rental properties to offer tenants a rent-controlled lease renewal, or pay a hefty relocation fee to tenants who prefer to move.

    The ordinance will have a significant impact on area tenants, as more than 50,000 rental units in the Windy City went into foreclosure over the past three years, sources say. 

    Foreclosing Lenders Must Protect Existing Tenants
    The city council passed the new law because it wants to keep existing tenants in foreclosed buildings. In theory, occupied buildings keep neighborhoods stable and help prevent crime. 

    But the new rules, set forth in Section 2-25-050 of the Chicago Municipal Code, could be a major headache for owners of foreclosed properties. These owners must now:

    • Give notice. New owners of foreclosed properties must post notices about the ownership transition within 21 days of taking over the property. The notice must appear in four languages: English, Spanish, Polish, and Chinese. 
    • Option to renew. Owners must give tenants the option to renew their leases for 12 months, or extend their current lease. And if the owners try to hike the rent, they can only raise it 2 percent above the tenant’s current payments. 
    • Relocation payment. If the tenant declines the option to renew, owners of foreclosed properties must pay up to $10,600 per unit for the tenant’s relocation costs. 

    Owners must also pay $250 to register each new property with the City Commissioner. Failure to follow the new ordinance will result in a $1,000 fine for each day of violation. The ordinance will become effective on September 13, 2013. 

    New Ordinance a Victory for Tenant Advocates
    The new ordinance is a major victory for tenant advocates, who have been fighting against banks for several months to pass sweeping tenant protections.

    One activist, Maria Elena Sifuentes, who works with the Albany Park Neighborhood Council captured the mood of her colleagues after the ordinance was passed by telling WBEZ that she was “overwhelmed, excited, and speechless.”

    And community leaders are excited keeping more tenants in foreclosed properties. According to sources, crime in Chicago’s abandoned buildings has increased 48 percent over the last 7 years. The new measure could help reduce this problem.

    Rusty Payton is real estate broker and attorney with the law offices of PaytonDann.  Contact Rusty at 312-702-1000 or by email: payton@paytondann.com 
  • New Law Protects Chicago Tenants in Foreclosed Buildings

    Posted Under: Foreclosure in Chicago, Rental Basics in Chicago, Rentals in Chicago  |  October 17, 2013 11:03 AM  |  332 views  |  No comments
    Chicago tenants received a dose of good news recently when Gov. Pat Quinn signed a law protecting renters in multifamily developments that are going through foreclosure, according to a report from Crain’s Chicago Business.

    The new law requires all investors who buy residential properties in a foreclosure sale to honor their adopted tenants’ existing leases or give the tenants at least 90 days to find a new home. The measure, which takes effect in late November, will replace an older law that offered weaker protection for tenants.

    In an official statement, Gov. Quinn observed that the foreclosure crisis has been a burden on homeowners, but it has also caused uncertainly for “families living in rental homes who are at risk of losing their home due to no fault of their own.” The new law will “ensure renters are protected from sudden forced moves that can be costly and disruptive.”

    In a legislative body riddled with constant bickering, the new foreclosure law proved to be remarkably popular, passing through the Senate and the House by an overall vote of 172-0.  So thanks to a rare bout of bipartisanship in the state legislature, Chicago tenants will be able to sleep a bit easier at night. 

    Rusty Payton is real estate broker and attorney with the law offices of PaytonDann.  Contact Rusty at 312-702-1000 or by email: payton@paytondann.com
  • Chicago's New Bed Bug Ordinance: What Does It Mean for YOU?

    Posted Under: General Area in Chicago, For Rent in Chicago, Rentals in Chicago  |  July 23, 2013 11:35 AM  |  1,408 views  |  No comments
    Chicago Bed Bug Ordinance Triggers New Duties for Condos
    Most condo associations keep a vigilant watch for bed bugs in their buildings, but a new Chicago ordinance looks to ensure that no pests fall through the cracks. To combat a wave of bed bug terror, the city of Chicago recently passed a law forcing condos to promptly resolve bed bug infestations, or face a $1,000 daily fine. The ordinance, which boldly labels bed bugs a “public nuisance,” also requires each condo association to draft a plan of attack for potential insect invasions. 

    New Bed Bug Regulations for Condo Associations 
    In order to comply with the new rules, nestled in Section 7-28-840 of the Chicago Municipal Code, condo associations must:
    ·         Prepare a pest treatment plan. Every condo must draft a plan for the “detection, inspection, and treatment” of bed bugs by September 5, 2013. While this sounds awfully vague, the city health department has promised to post a sample plan on its website soon. 
    ·         Publish the plan of attack. After creating a comprehensive pest control plan, each building must also post its strategy on the city health department’s website.  
    ·         Report any bed bug incidents. If a single creepy crawler appears in the building, condos must immediately report the problem to the department of health. 
    ·         Treat the infestation. If a bed bug enters the premises, condos have a duty to hire a licensed pest control service to “totally eliminate” the problem, even if this requires multiple treatments. The most surprising requirement is the pest treatment plan, which must incorporate the “best practices” currently used in the war against bed bugs. And condo associations face a potential fine if they fail to create a suitable pest control strategy.  

    Condos Must Report and Record Every Bed Bug Incident
    Alas, the duties don’t stop after treatment. After each bed bug incident, condo associations must also keep a written record of the treatment. These reports must remain accessible for city health inspectors to review. And if any resident of a condo reports a bed bug problem, city officials reserve the right to inspect the interior and exterior of the entire building to check for signs of the hungry critters.  The ordinance certainly creates a new burden for condo associations, but if the rules help thwart the bed bug epidemic, residents will be able to sleep more soundly at night. 
    Chicago Bed Bug Ordinance Places Extra Burden on Landlords
    Bed bugs, as far as we know, aren’t interested in politics, but they certainly created a stir this spring in the stately halls of Chicago’s City Council.  After months of negotiations, the council has passed an ordinance labeling bed bugs a “public nuisance,” which spells doom for the nightmarish critters, but could also take a bite out of landlords’ wallets. 
    Under the new rules, Chicago landlords who fail to promptly treat and report bed bug infestations face a $1,000 fine for every day of noncompliance.
    Landlords Must Treat and Report Every Bed Bug Incident
    The ordinance creates several new responsibilities for local building owners. Under Section 4-4-332 of the Chicago Municipal Code, landlords must now:
    ·         Completely eliminate the pests. Upon notification of a bed bug issue, landlords must immediately hire a licensed pest control service to “totally eliminate” the bugs, even if this requires multiple treatments.
    ·         Report all treatment. Landlords must keep a written report of all bed bug troubles, and store receipts for every pest treatment. These records may be viewed at any time by city health officials. 
    ·         Check neighboring units. Building owners also have a duty to inspect all units next to the infested location to make sure the bugs haven’t made travel plans. The most important language of the ordinance is the new duty to “totally eliminate” any bed bug problem. This means landlords cannot rest until every last critter is killed. 

    Tenants Also Have a Duty to Cooperate and Report
    While landlords certainly hold more responsibility than tenants, the new ordinance also enlists tenants in the fight against the tiny merchants of sleeplessness.
    The rules require tenants to notify landlords of the presence of bed bugs, cooperate with treatment efforts, and dispose of personal property that has not been treated by a pest control service. 
    But the primary burden clearly rests on landlords, who must eliminate bed bug colonies as fast as possible or face thousands of dollars in fines.  

    Rusty Payton is real estate broker and attorney with the law offices of Payton Dann.  Contact Rusty at 312-702-1000 or by email: payton@paytondann.com
  • Disabled Rights: The Truth About Service Animals in Rental Units

    Posted Under: Rental Basics in Chicago, Property Q&A in Chicago, Rentals in Chicago  |  July 23, 2013 11:29 AM  |  517 views  |  No comments

    Disabled Rights: The Truth About Service Animals in Rental Units

    Pets can be a landlord’s worst nightmare. Dogs and cats are often noisy and dirty, and they can wreak havoc on newly finished floors. So landlords have the right to keep animals out of their units. But this right is not absolute. If a disabled tenant needs the aid of a service animal, landlords must allow the pet inside the building, even if they have a strict no-pet policy.

    Service Animals: The Landlord’s Duties

    The Fair Housing Act, a federal law that governs rental activity in every state, requires landlords to offer “reasonable accommodations” to disabled tenants. So if a landlord selects a tenant who is one of more than 10,000 Americans currently using a service animal, a few key rules apply:

    1.       Tenants who require the aid of an animal due to a “sensory, mental, or physical condition that substantially limits a major life activity” must be allowed to live with a service animal.

    2.       Service animals do not need visible identification or documentation, but landlords can ask for proof that the animal is necessary. A letter from any health care professional will usually suffice. 

     Landlords cannot force disabled tenants to pay a pet deposit, but the tenant is still liable for any damage caused by the animal.

    Building owners may also require that tenants keep their animals are well-behaved, but that’s a typical landlord right that extends to human tenants, too.

    And since most service animals are highly trained, it’s fairly rare for them to cause serious problems for landlords. Other tenants, however, are another matter.

    Other Tenants’ Right to Void Their Lease

    While the Fair Housing Act limits landlords’ right to keep service animals out of their buildings, other tenants do not face the same restrictions. If a tenant moves into a building because of its no-pet policy, and a service animal moves in next door, the tenant has a right to challenge the validity of the lease.

    Of course, objecting to a service animal won’t win anyone a Humanitarian of the Year award, but the absence of pets can be an important factor for many tenants, especially those who suffer from allergies.

    So while landlords must allow service animals to assist disabled tenants, they may also have to void the leases of tenants upset by their new neighbors. 

    Rusty Payton is real estate broker and attorney with the law offices of Payton Dann.  Contact Rusty at 312-702-1000 or by email: payton@paytondann.com

  • A Few Words of Caution About Vacation Rentals and Shared Spaces

    Posted Under: Rentals in Chicago  |  March 14, 2013 6:14 PM  |  451 views  |  No comments
    Although for many decades travelers have been welcomed into the homes of relatives and friends and offered the couch as a cheap place to stay, it was not until this decade that this tried and true option was revolutionized by the internet.  With the advent of Craigslist, Airbnb, and similar sites, almost anyone and everyone is offering up couches, spare bedrooms and even entire homes for rent as a hotel alternative.  While the notion of renting a room in a friendly owner’s home may at first glance seem appealing economically, there are a few words of caution to be offered before you jump in head first.
    Renting such accommodations pose risks to both pocketbook and safety.  Here is why.

    Hotels, motels, bed and breakfast inns are almost universally regulated by local governmental authorities.  Local statutes provide for minimum safety and health requirements. Establishments must has work smoke and carbon dioxide detectors, operating fire extinguishers, emergency exit lighting, and posted fire exit plans.  I operate a B&B here in Chicago and can personally attest to the fact that each year we get a thorough inspection by the fire department, by the department of buildings, and by the department of health.  If we don’t take appropriate measures to protect the safety and health of our guests, we do not get to operate.
    Now compare those protections to what you get when you rent a night on a stranger's couch. Has that stranger devoted the same concern and resources to your safety and health? Do you know what you would do in a fire? How would you get out? Is there anyone on-site that can help you in an emergency? Is the location, building and apartment you are renting safe? Remember, you are staying in an unfamiliar city in an unconventional alternative to a hotel, motel or B&B.  Ask yourself if the potential savings is truly worth the additional risks posed.

    You should also be extremely alert for the potential financial pitfalls of renting such accommodations. If you send money to a stranger you found on the internet, is there going to actually be a place for you to stay when you arrive? Sites such as Craigslist are fertile ground for scam artists of all types. They will often go to great lengths to make their scams appear legitimate with wonderful photos of fantastic abodes near all the sites and available just when you are looking to travel and at unbelievable prices. Beware, they are often adept at making you part with your money. Check out the business and ask for references. Legitimate places to stay in most cities like Chicago has a website, a Facebook page, are on Google+, LinkedIn and other social media sites. Determine how you will get a refund if all is not as promised. Because of recent scams and problems with unregulated vacation rentals, many jurisdictions have adopted new local laws that require registration and licensing. Check the locale you intend to visit and check with the local tourism bureau or visitors center for further information.

    Traveling to a new city is always an adventure.  Make it a pleasurable, memorable one by heeding these few words of caution.

    Rusty Payton is an attorney http://www.attorneypayton.com and real estate brokerhttp://www.iMovechicago.com in Chicago, Illinois. He operates House 5863, a bed & breakfast located in the Andersonville neighborhood of Chicago. Take a virtual tour of the B&B and make resevations at http://www.House5863.com.
  • A Few Tips Before and After Moving Into Your Rental Home

    Posted Under: Rental Basics in Chicago, Property Q&A in Chicago, Rentals in Chicago  |  February 1, 2013 4:26 PM  |  710 views  |  No comments
    Before Moving into a rental - 
    1. Check out the neighborhoods with an eye to what is important to you: transportation (Is it near public trains, buses expressways), area attractions (food, activities, entertainment), parking (on-street, garage, congestion) and safety (crime stats are available here on Trulia and through local police department sites). 
    2. Determine if you are getting value for your rental dollar. Compare similar properties. Look at price per square foot and the amenities offered by the rental property. Many properties offer a wide variety of amenities, from 24-hour doorman, on-site health clubs or gyms, business centers, concierge services, on-site dry cleaners, groceries (and eve a 24 hour Walmart at one downtown Chicago building). Of course, these amenities add costs and if you need few, your cost will be less. 
    3. Check out your landlord. Are they an established property owner/manager that takes care of their properties. Look closely at building common areas. Are they clean? Are there obvious signs of neglect ? If so, that may be a warning sign that the owner does not give great importance to maintenance and upkeep. If you are dealing with a small landlord or individual, have your agent check to see if the property that they are renting is in foreclosure. The economic recession turned many property owners into first time landlords. The last thing you want to happen is for the sheriff to show up at your door seeking to evict because the owner was foreclosed. 
    4. Work with a good agent to prepare a lease that properly reflects your agreement to rent. The importance of this cannot be overstated. The lease is the written agreement that will govern your relationship with the landlord. Get everything in writing. If the landlord has agreed to paint, make repairs, or has offered any discounts or incentives, make sure your lease reflects any such terms. Review your lease carefully to determine that there are no errors (dates, rental amounts, etc.) Be cognizant of miscellaneous fees: late charges, move-in or move-out fees, pet fees, subletting fees, etc. These can sneak up and cause you trouble down the road. Make sure you have been provided with proper disclosures as required by state or local ordinances, such as recent building code violations, radon, lead based pain, etc. 
    5. Shortly before moving, change your address with the postal services, your credit card accounts and other vendors, call to schedule new utilities (electric, gas, cable, internet and phone - tip: shop around for deals.) Make sure to cancel services at your old home.

    After moving in- 
    1. Sit back a take a breather and enjoy your new home. Moving can be stressful so don't get overwhelmed by trying to set up your new home all in one day. Take some time for yourself. 
    2. Before undertaking projects, such as painting, alterations, check with your landlord or consult your lease, and seek out neighbors and friends to get good recommendations for contractors and suppliers. 
    4. Inspect smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors and determine if they are in working order and if the batteries need to be changed. 
    5. Ask if your locks have been re-keyed and if not get your landlords permission to have this security measure done immediately. Make sure all doors close securely and that all locks are operable 
    6. Get familiar with your neighbors and your neighborhood. Learn where the police and fire stations are located, where you would go if you were injured, where groceries and pharmacies are located. Seek out knowledgeable neighbors and learn the ins and outs of your new homestead. Get the local perspective. 
    7. Let friends and family know you have moved and provide your new address and contact numbers.

    These are just a few thoughts and I am sure that the Trulia community will have many more to offer. 

    Welcome to your new home. 

    Rusty A. Payton, Broker 
    iMove Chicago 
    1225 W Morse 
    Chicago, Illinois 60626 

    773-856-6200 [Office] 
    773-856-6201 [Fax] 
    773-682-5210 [Mobile] 

    e. payton@iMoveChicago.com 


    blog: iMoveBlog.com
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