3 Things You Need to Know Before You Sign A Apartment lease In Chicago!

Posted by Leo Clark. on Wednesday, February 7th, 2024 at 4:33pm.

Signing a lease on an apartment in Chicago can be daunting. There is a plethora of paperwork, legal ease, and decisions you have to make on the fly.  So here are 3 things you need to know before you sign on the line that is dotted!

1. Lease Renewal Option
Let’s say you love the place and before you know it you're coming up on your renewal period. You reach out to your friendly landlord to extend for another year and he tells you he would love for you to stay, however, the rent will go up $200.00+ a month!  So now what do you do?  It's expensive to move and you love the place so you pay it.  

Let’s go back to the beginning, if you had written a clause into the lease that gave you an “
Option” to renew and included in that option was a specific “Rent Bump” which could be a percentage or a fixed amount.  This would do two things, it would give you security knowing that you can stay for 2 years if you elect to and it also locks in the rental rate.  Now you can sleep peacefully at night. 

2. Condition Of The Unit Before Possession
The number 1 issue we run into when one of our clients moves into a unit, or should I say attempt to move in is the condition of the unit. "Here are just a few examples:

  • The unit was not professionally cleaned i.e. it's filthy dirty.
  • Items from the previous tenant were left i.e. couch, chairs, table, pictures, etc. 
  • The apartment was not Professionally painted, instead, they did “half-assed” touch-ups.
  • Appliances are not working i.e. Sink, Dishwasher, Shower, Frig
  • No electricity or gas, they never told you they turned it off.

So the key here is to write into the lease very specific details regarding what it is you expect the landlord to perform before your move-in date.
  • The following Items will be completed before move-in at the expense of the Landlord. 
  • Unit to be Professionally cleaned, receipt to be provided by the landlord. 
  • The unit will be empty
  • Unit to be Professionally Painted, receipt to be provided by the landlord.  
  • A new faucet is to be installed in the master bathroom

3. Get the Move-in/Move-out fees in writing! 
If you moving into a condo building beware of the high fees condo associations charge.  They have thought of everything as it is a revenue stream used to build up the reserves and keep renters out as they don’t like them.  Here are just a few,
1. Credit checks $100.00 - $500.00 per person,
2. Admin fee $100.00 - $500.00,
3. Pet Fee $0.00 - $200.00
4. Elevator Fee $100.00 - $500.00 each way i.e. Move-In, Move-Out
5. Elevator/hallway security deposit of $100.00 - $500.00 (refundable but you still have to come up with it.) 
Some Associations bundle it together, take Trump Tower Chicago for example, this is straight off a current listing “Lessee responsible for all Trump lease processing fees: $1,200 lease processing fee, $1,000 move-in fee, & $1,000 refundable move-in deposit. So in total, you're in for $2,200.00!  Crazy! 

The bottom line is, get it all in writing before you sign as you may decide to go elsewhere.  If you are a good negotiator see if the Landlord will split it with you.  Happy Hunting!

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