Wednesday, September 27, 2006

What if I want to move because of crime?

If you feel you live in an unsecure location, is it possible to move because of crime in the area or beacuse you have been the victim of crime? Ed Sacks of the suntimes answers this question.

Q. I was recently mugged on a weekday afternoon on a fairly busy corner directly outside my Hyde Park apartment building. My wife and I are looking to relocate. The management of our facility made it clear they will not cancel our lease. What are our options?

A. There are several options. Find a substitute tenant. The Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance permits tenants to provide a sublet. The landlord's written permission to switch is needed. The CRLTO requires the landlord accept the replacement as long as the new tenant meets the same criteria used to approve the existing tenant. Costs of finding the substitute are up to the current tenant.

If the lease does not contain a copy of the CRLTO Summary, the tenant can terminate the lease immediately, after written notice, and must leave within 30 days. The CRLTO also allows for lease termination when unit or building conditions are so horrible that the place is not reasonably fit or habitable. A written notice and waiting periods of 72 hours to 14 days to cure is required, depending on the condition.

Illinois landlords have limited responsibilities to their tenants when it comes to actions of third parties. Unless the landlord knew and failed to inform you that your corner was more dangerous than elsewhere in the neighborhood, you have no viable cause to break your lease.

Some streets and communities have more violence, some have less. It is the tenant's duty to determine whether the neighborhood is satisfactory and to take care. Landlords can be held liable when they make promises about security they do not keep, or fail to disclose and address known hazards likely to cause injury, or undertake voluntary actions to provide security but fail.

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