The Residential Tenants’ Right to Repair Act
The Residential Tenants’ Right to Repair Act allows you to hire a licensed tradesman or supplier to make necessary repairs and to then deduct the cost of the repair from your rent. However, this law only applies under certain circumstances and only for certain repairs. Also, you must follow the correct procedure (described below) to comply with the Act.
What types of repairs are covered under the Right to Repair Act?
The Act only applies to repairs that are required by the lease, or by law, administrative rule or local ordinance or regulation. You cannot deduct the cost of repair from your rent if you caused the damages by a deliberate or negligent or by a failure to act in some way. Also, you cannot deduct the cost of repair from rent if your family members or other houseguests caused the damages.
Are all types of rental housing covered under the Right to Repair Act?
No. The Act does NOT apply to:
- Public housing
- Residential cooperative housing
- Commercial tenants
- Residences with six units or less, if the owner lives on the property
- Mobile homes located in a mobile home park
Is there a limit to the amount that can be spent on any particular repair under the Act?
Yes. The amount you can deduct depends on your monthly rent:
- If your rent is $999 or less, you can take up to half of your rent out for a covered repair
- If your rent is $1,000 or more, you can take up to $500 out of your rent for a covered repair
- Also, the amount you deduct cannot be more than the reasonable price usually charged for the repair
Do I have to notify my landlord before I hire someone to make the repair?
Yes. You must tell your landlord in writing that you are planning to have the repair made at the landlord’s expense. You must send the letter through registered or certified mail to the landlord’s address shown on the lease. If there is no address listed, you must send it to the most recent address you have for your landlord.
Once I notify my landlord, how soon can I have a tradesman or supplier make the repair?
After notifying your landlord in writing, you must wait 14 days to allow him or her to make the repair. If your landlord fails to do so within 14 days, then you may have your tradesman or supplier make the repair. The repair can be made immediately if there are emergency conditions, including those that will cause irreparable harm to the apartment if not immediately repaired or that pose an immediate threat to you or to your household members’ health or safety.
Do I have to follow any special rules for making the repair?
- The repair must be made in a workmanlike manner
- It must be made according to the appropriate law, administrative rule, or local ordinance or regulation
- It must be completed by a tradesman or supplier who holds a valid license or certificate as required by state or municipal law
- The tradesman or supplier must be insured to cover any bodily harm or property damage they cause
- The tradesman or supplier cannot be related to you
Do I have to give my landlord anything else?
Yes. Before you may deduct the amount from your rent, you must give your landlord a paid bill from the tradesman or supplier, as well as the tradesman or supplier’s name, address, and phone number.
Can my landlord evict me for not paying rent if I repair and deduct?
No, your landlord should not be able to evict you if you follow all of the rules explained here. If you do not give proper notice, or in some way do not follow the correct procedure, you could be responsible for the entire amount of your rent or could even be evicted. Therefore, it is in your best interest to talk to a lawyer before you take any action.
Note: This information was prepared as a public service by the Illinois State Bar Association. Every effort has been made to provide accurate information at the time of publication. For the most current information, please consult your lawyer. If you need a lawyer and do not have one, visit our lawyer referral page.
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