Rentals in Chicago>Question Details

amyj_77, Renter in Chicago, IL

My landlord has failed to seal my building against rats. In 4 years, I've had them in my walls at least 7 times. What are my options?

Asked by amyj_77, Chicago, IL Fri Apr 5, 2013

I have numerous other issues, but this is the worst one. I haven't been able to find a comparable apartment for the price I pay near my neighborhood, or I would have been long gone by now. I insisted on an exterminator (which the landlord only paid for once, and I had to threaten to hire my own and bill him before he would even consider it), which corrected the problem temporarily, but they just keep getting into the walls. I can't take hearing these critters crawling around in the walls while I try to sleep. What can I do?

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0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Apr 10, 2013

That sounds bad. You do have rights in the city of Chicago. You should contact 311 and report the violation. Also, document everything. You will need to show documentation that you have tried to work with your landlord if you feel it has reach the level of needing to break your lease. Also, if you paid a security deposit and your landlord has not been paying the interest every year he has done a big no no.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Apr 7, 2013
Try contacting the Illinois Tenants Union, 773-588-3433.

Sorry you have to experience what you're going through.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Apr 6, 2013
Thank you for your answers. I have contacted Chicago Renter's Rights, and they told me I could hire my own exterminator up to $500 or half a months rent, whichever is greater. After explaining the situation to an exterminator, they said this happens a lot in Bucktown because the buildings are old and tree roots put cracks in the foundation, which is how the rats get in. Fixing that problem would cost much more than $500. It seems my choices are to move (which I can't honestly afford) or hire a lawyer and try to withhold rent until they are forced to fix the building (which, unless the lawyer works for free, I also can't afford). I'm just a single girl trying to work full time and go to grad school. It's frustrating that I can't just live vermin free since I pay almost $1000/mo in rent. I will call the other organizations that you all suggested, and post here if anything comes of it.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Apr 6, 2013
I feel bad for you, and I do understand that rats, really are very resilient and determined, if they are in
the area, because of open garbage cans, litter and other, it is hard to get rid of them for good....
And even if one closes up entrance spots they may just find another one.....

So assessing the problem, where they enter, how they get there, remember they do climb walls and are quite the acrobatics if they want to get somewhere.....

Having said that, your landlord in general should be worried about the destruction the rats will at the end
cause to the building, the attic or basements and to the walls, so it should be in the landlord;s interest to do something about it, consistently to avoid for them to return....

Now if you can not get anywhere with the landlord directly then you need to contact those who can be of assistance to you the tenant, the Metro tenants organization will give you some advice and you can also contact the city health department, as they will know how to take care of the issue.

And heed the recommendations of others below, before holding back rent or anything make sure you
get good legal advice and do everything in the right manner, in writing and in a timely manner.

Sincerely yours,
Edith YourRealtor4Life & Chicago and Northern Illinois Expert

Working always in the very BEST interest of her clients, Buyers, Sellers and Investors alike....
And always with a SMILE 
Covering for @Properties the city of Chicago, all N and NW suburbs, the fine homes on the
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0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Apr 6, 2013
I guess the landlord isn't going to qualify for landlord of the year. Talk to the landlord again and clearly explain the situation. Then call the city. Or your choice would be to move and maybe pay more rent or live with rats. The decision comes down to you. Or perhaps you could give them names and make them pets. That probably won't work though.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Apr 6, 2013
Talk to your landlord and ask for him to do something.
Notify the city
If the conditions are unbearable, you are always free to move elsewhere.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Apr 6, 2013
complain to the city or pay more and leave
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Apr 6, 2013
Dear Amyj_77,

If I were you, I'd first contact the Metropolitan Tenants Organization. They will have multiple resources for you (including potentially attorney referrals if it gets to that).

You can potentially withhold rent from your landlord until the condition is corrected (either by you or the landlord), HOWEVER you MUST make sure that you've delivered proper notice (delivered in the proper way and with sufficient time prior to your rent actually being withheld) to your landlord that you intend to withhold rent until the condition is fixed.

You can look online for a copy of the full Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance to attempt to find the specifics for yourself, but again I'd be sure to consult either the Metropolitan Tenants Organization or a tenant's attorney if I were you before I took any action against my landlord.

Good luck to you, and let me know if I could be of further assistance to you.


Christopher Thomas
Broker Associate, Keller Williams Realty Chicago Consulting Group
716 E. 47th St. Chicago, IL 60653
(773) 770-5947 (cell) (312) 577-0985 (fax)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Apr 5, 2013
If they make it unfit living conditions, you can get out of your lease, but you have to prove it.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Apr 5, 2013
if you have a lease, you may have recourse. If you do not have a written lease, you are going to end up moving, might as well be on your terms. Did it ever occur to you the low rent is associated with the building condition?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Apr 5, 2013
Call the city. You can reach them at 311
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Apr 5, 2013
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