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Photograph: CC/Flickr/Adam Jones

A Chicago landlord honestly answers tenant questions

Written by
Nick Kotecki

For every good landlord in Chicago, there's one that's not good at all. Luckily, we have one of the good guys on our side.

Every season we release a print magazine (find your own free hard copy here), and we ask our trusty landlord the hard questions so you don't have to ask your own. All questions are sourced from readers just like you.

Got a burning question? Email or message us on Facebook.

How long do I have to review a lease renewal? My landlord says I have to respond but hasn’t shown me a lease. —June, Albany Park

Sixty days notice is standard. Be proactive. Ask if any terms are changing or if rent is increasing, and that can help you decide quickly. If the landlord gives you the new lease after 60 days, ask for more time to decide. 

I’ve been updating my place for years, but now I’m moving. I’ve replaced a ceiling fan, door, faucets and window screens. Can I get any money back? —Steve, Noble Square

Unless the work was detailed with receipts, probably not. Electrical or plumbing work may need to be checked or redone, which may add cost, leading your landlord to become less inclined to reimburse you. Typically, unless you have an understanding with your landlord, you should assume any updates probably won’t be reimbursed.

I’ve asked about a garden, but my landlord hardly gets back to me and lives out of state. Can I plant then put sod over it when I leave? —Stephanie, West Ridge

Similar to painting a room and getting charged for repainting out of your deposit later, you may be charged a fee for yard repair. Conversely, maybe your landlord or the next tenant likes a garden as a selling point. It sounds like your landlord is mostly absentee and won’t even notice, though.

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