Sixty percent of Chicago residents live in rental housing, including condos and single-family homes. Broken pipes and appliance leaks are the most common and expensive problems landlords encounter, and can drastically alter property value.
If you’re a landlord and you’re dealing with water damage at your Chicago rental property, you might be wondering if your tenant is responsible for the repairs.
At ServiceMaster of Lake Shore, we come across these situations daily when providing water damage restoration services to Chicago homes and businesses. So, we’re familiar with how tricky this situation can be and what you should do.
Read on to learn about the laws and rights that apply to Chicago landlords and tenants as well as how to deal with the water damage and get your rental back to pre-damage condition.
Tenants vs Landlords: Who is Responsible for Water Damage in Chicago rentals?
Neither the tenant nor the landlord wants the expense involved in dealing with the aftermath of a water-damage event.
Both sides would prefer the financial burden to fall on the other. The landlord usually feels that the damage is a result of the tenant’s carelessness, while tenants feel that the landlord is responsible because they own the property.
Within the city of Chicago, The Residential Landlord and Tenant (RLT) Ordinance governs most rental agreements.
When landlords and tenants understand their individual rights and responsibilities, it can help keep a good relationship between tenants and landlords in water damage events.
What are the owner’s Responsibilities?
According to the Illinois Implied Warranty of Habitability state law, the property owner must:
- Keep the property fit to occupy
- Stay in compliance with state and local housing and health codes
- Make repairs for items for which they are responsible within 14 days of a written request from the tenant
- Give notice of repair work that requires access
Keeping the property fit to occupy means that the landlord should maintain essential plumbing needs, such as a working toilet, hot and cold water, a shower or tub, and other standard necessities.
According to the Illinois Retaliatory Eviction Act, the landlord cannot retaliate with eviction or lease renewal denial if a tenant complains to government authority for violating building or health codes.
If the tenant does not remove their belongings out of the way of the water leak, the landlord is not responsible for covering the damage to the tenant’s personal property.
When looking for landlord insurance, it’s important to find one that covers legal liabilities, water damage, and tenant injury related to water damage events.
However, it’s important to note that landlord insurance generally doesn’t cover damage from negligence, like not taking care of a leak for months.
While landlord insurance may cover damage to tenant property in some cases, requiring your renters to have renter’s insurance can prevent the headache of having your renters attempt to come to you to cover their personal property damage.
What are the Tenant’s Responsibilities?
The tenant has a few obligations in relation to the rental property and water damage events:
- Use equipment and facilities reasonably
- Not damage the rental property deliberately or through negligence
- Send a request for the repairs to the landlord in writing
- Provide the landlord with access to the property so that they can make repairs
- Remove personal property out of water’s way to avoid damage
The tenant may be responsible for the water damage if they are not proactive or don’t inform the landlord of a water leak or plumbing problem within a reasonable amount of time.
The tenant may be responsible for the damage if they do something intentional or unintentional to cause the damage.
For example, they would be responsible if the tub overflows and causes a leak in the downstairs ceiling or if they flush solid items down a toilet and cause a blockage.
The tenant may also be responsible if they don’t do anything to minimize the water damage, such as not trying to shut off the water when water is leaking from an appliance.
What are Legal Rights for Chicago Tenants?
In Chicago, renters have extensive rights. If the landlord has not maintained the property, the tenant has several legal options:
- Withhold rent if the landlord doesn’t make repairs in a timely matter, beginning on day fifteen from the request until the landlord makes repairs
- Repair the problem and deduct the cost from rent based on the Residential Tenants’ Right to Repair Act (if under $500 or doesn’t exceed half the monthly rent)
- Sue for damages that result from issues with the property not being habitable
- Report landlords to housing inspectors or other government authorities if they are violating housing codes
Does your Chicago, IL, Rental Property Have Water Damage? We’re Here to Help!
Dealing with water damage doesn’t need to be a stressful undertaking. ServiceMaster of Lake Shore is here to help restore your property to its original condition.
We’re available to make repairs, remove water, clean, disinfect, and repair water damage in your rental property.
We take care of a variety of situations that cause water damage in Chicago, such as:
- Drain blockages
- Sewage backups
- Flooded basements
- Plumbing problems
- Leaking water heaters
- Frozen, leaking, and burst pipes
- Roof ice dams
- Water damage from putting out a fire
No job is too big; we’ve seen it all. We’ll bill your insurance directly so that you have less to worry about and don’t have to pay out of pocket.
Chicago rental property owners who need certified water damage repair have trusted the experts at ServiceMaster of Lake Shore for years. You can, too!
Call us for emergencies at 312-707-8597 to solve your water damage problems.