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Every Renter Should Be A Dreamer

Renting can be a liberating experience.

Instead of viewing it as something you do until you can afford to buy, improve your outlook. The world is yours. Start by looking at what you really want… and THEN consider pricing. It’s still reality, but this approach will open your eyes to greater possibilities. Even as you get settled, keep looking at better spaces. That’s how renters turn into buyers.

Renter’s Guide / F.A.Q.

  • How can I fix my credit score?

This is the number one criteria that a landlord will be looking for, when it comes to renting you a property. This is NOT a paid endorsement: To repair my credit I used Credit Karma. It took me about 6 months to smooth things out.

  • How much rent can I afford?

The most common reason people ask this question is because they are thinking about Renting vs. Buying. This is also NOT a paid endorsement: Have a look at Rent Cafe’s Affordability Calculator.

  • What documents do I need to provide when applying for a rental?

As stated above, expect a credit check. Be prepared to pay an application fee. Of course they vary. Some landlords require letters of recommendation. Try to line up some reputable sources for that. You will also need proof of income and picture ID at the very least. Always ask about the security deposit, so you aren’t caught off guard.

  • Can a landlord legally refuse to rent to me because of my race, religion, or sexual orientation?

This is absolutely not allowed.

  • What is a security deposit, and how much can a landlord legally charge?

A security deposit is money a tenant pays a landlord at the start of a lease to protect against damages or unpaid rent. In Illinois, landlords can charge up to ONE month’s rent as a security deposit for unfurnished apartments and ONE 1/2 month’s rent for furnished apartments, and they have to pay interest on it.
NOTE: It is not the same as a pet deposit.

  • How often can a landlord increase rent?

In Illinois, there is no limit on how often a landlord can increase rent. The terms should be listed in the lease. If there is no lease agreement or if the lease is month-to-month, the landlord must give the tenant at least 30 days’ notice (in writing) before increasing the rent.

  • Can a landlord enter my apartment without my permission?

In Illinois, landlords are required to provide tenants with at least 48 hrs. notice before entering a rental unit. The notice must specify the date, approximate time and the reason for entry. Exceptions are in case of emergency, or if renters abandon the unit.

  • What happens if I break my lease early?

Read the lease thoroughly. If you break it you might still be held responsible for paying the remaining rent, for the lease term, or at least until a new tenant is found. You may also be required to pay additional fees or advertising costs. In some cases you could lose your security deposit or suffer damage to your credit rating. It’s important to ask if you can sublease before signing. You might be able to just rent to someone else. In that case though you are still responsible for paying the landlord.

  • What are my rights if my landlord doesn’t make repairs?

If a landlord fails to make necessary repairs you have the right to withhold rent, make the repairs and deduct the cost from rent. You can even file a complaint with the municipality, or terminate the lease altogether. Before taking any of these actions, notify your landlord in writing about which repairs are needed, and give a reasonable amount of time for the repairs to be made.

  • What is renters insurance, and do I need it?

Renters insurance provides coverage for a tenant’s personal property and personal liability. In the event of a natural disaster, fire, or even a break-in it might prove useful. It is not required by law, but is still highly recommended. Make sure to read the policy thoroughly, to make sure you know what’s covered.

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  1. Kaplan, J. (2021). The Ultimate Guide to Renting an Apartment. Forbes.
  2. O’Connor, C. (2021). Renters Insurance: What It Is and Why You Need It. U.S. News & World Report.
  3. Perez, W. (2020). Renting vs. Buying: Pros and Cons. Realtor Magazine.
  4. DiCaprio, L. (2021). How to Negotiate Rent with Your Landlord. Apartment Therapy.
  5. Massey, S. (2021). The Top 7 Things Renters Need to Know About Tenant Rights. Real Simple.
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