The Village of Oak Park | 123 Madison St.  Oak Park, IL 60302 |

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Landlord-Tenant Handbook - Best Practices for Tenants

Document all communications in writing – All repair requests should be in writing.  Always keep a copy of your communication with your landlord and proof of mailing and be sure to get copies of all documents you sign. You can prove the letter was sent and received by sending it via email, but certified mail is preferred in legal settings.  Be sure to keep a copy for your own records. You can also hand deliver the letter and ask your landlord to sign and date your copy of the letter. Document all agreements between you and the landlord and any commitments made to you, especially payment arrangements. Everything should be signed by you and the landlord.

Always get receipts for money paid to the landlord – Tenants should ask for a receipt for rent or any payment made to a landlord. Payment also can be documented by sending payments via certified mail or making a copy of the check or money order before it is sent. Whenever possible, pay using money orders or cashier’s checks instead of cash. Be sure to fill out money orders and make copies before it is separated from the stub. Mark checks and money orders for the actual month the payment is intended to cover. This documents that your payment can only be used for the rent in the proper month and is not for other fees.

Do not withhold rent if landlord is not making repairs – Tenants must be current in rent to access legal repair remedies. Even if the repairs are severe, withholding rent leaves a tenant vulnerable to eviction. Tenants can call the Neighborhood Services Division at Village Hall (708.358.5410) to discuss property standard concerns. Staff will determine if an issue is valid and may send a property inspector to investigate. The Illinois Residential Tenants Right to Repair Act governs repair-related issues (Illinois Compiled Statute 742).

Document the condition of your unit when you move in/out – Documenting the unit’s condition when moving in and moving out can help defend a tenant against wrongful damage charges. Take pictures of the unit’s condition. Some judges will not accept camera date stamps because they can be manipulated, so be judicious in how you note the date of the original photographs. Consider making a copy of the day’s newspaper visible in the frame to establish the date the photo was taken.