Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Security Deposit or No Security Deposit?

The Chicago Association of Realtors has come out against security deposits.,0,4166623.column

I am really torn about this.  Reading the article did not help me make up my mind either.   There are real risks with holding deposits and complying with the rules that the Landlord Tenant Ordinance has.  Interest is the hardest one, have you ever tried to get your tenant to cash a check for $.42?  I have, it is not easy.  In my opinion, the other rules are reasonable, but you do have to know what they are in order to comply with them.   You have to send written notice to your tenants in 30 days if you are going to keep any portion of their deposit and you need to itemize all deductions in writing at that time.  You also have 45 days in which to return the actual money, but I would stick to 30 days for everything.  Less chance of you missing a date.  If you don't know where they are then you need to send the check certified mail to the old address so you can show that you tried.   If you don't think you can handle tracking everything it might be better to just charge a move-in fee, but keep is reasonable, just a few hundred dollars a the most.

Thursday, November 21, 2013


New App for Tenants and Landlords

My friends at the Chicago Metropolitan Tenants Organization announced their new app yesterday: Square Away.  I think it is pretty cool.  It will allow your tenants to communicate a problem with you and send you a photo via their phone.  How many of us have gotten that call on a Sunday morning where you tenant tells you about a leak or lack of heat only to inform you that it has been going on for days, but they are just getting around to calling you.  I think it would be helpful if they could tell you about an issue before it got really bad.  Hopefully this will make it easier.  

Even better the app offer landlords easy links to the Chicago Landlord Tenant Ordinance, which you need to provide to your tenants and now can from your phone.  I was just checking out the landlord side of the app and realized that there is new Bed Bug Flyer that has to be shared with tenants starting December of 2013, that is only a week away!  Go to the app yourself for info about Bed Bugs and more:

Thursday, November 07, 2013


Afforable Housing

Wow sorry I have been gone for so long.  The good news is that I had a great year and got too busy to keep up on my blog responsibilities.   The real estate market really improved this year, so if you own a small apartment building you should have seen your rents and your property value climb.  If you are looking to own a small apartment building you should get a move one.  Interest rates are still low and inventory is a little bit better than it was six months ago though still down compared to demand.   Of course all real estate is local so it prices and rent depend a lot on your location.  Feel free to contact me for more info or buying, selling or market value in a give location.

The main reason I am posting today is to remind everyone that landlords cannot discriminate based source of income, better known as Section 8.  This has been true in the city for some time but now is also the case in the suburbs.  You don't have to rent to a tenant sole because they get the section 8 voucher but you also cant deny them solely because they get the section 8 voucher.  The attached letter is a lot more detailed then what I am posting here, but I think the best rule is to apply the same standards and treatment to anyone applying for a rental unit.   If their credit is bad or they get a bad landlord reference then you don't have to rent to anyone for those reasons.  Those are valid reasons.

One really important part of the new law (or old law in Chicago)  is it applies to condo buildings too.  A condo building cannot deny rental to section 8 unless it is for valid and standard reason, ie - poor credit.    If you live in a condo building that allows rentals you might want to come up with a set of standards now that applies to all future tenants in the building.  For example:  prospective renters must produce a good letter of reference from a pervious landlord no more than 2 years old and their credit score must be 650 or higher. 

Good luck and stay on the right side of the law.

Friday, February 15, 2013


Itemized Damage Statement

Public Act 97-999 (HB 5314) now allows you to email itemized damage statements in addition to mailing them.   Basically if you are going to keep any part of the security deposit, because of damage (or past due rent), you need to mail an itemized statement to your tenants within 30days.  Now you can email it as well.   This law makes it easier to be sure your tenant receives the itemized list of deductions in the time frame allowed.

Monday, January 28, 2013


Rental Market 2013

Good news for the Chicago rental market.  In the second quarter of 2012 the Chicago vacancy rate was 4% (lower than the national average of 4.5%), according to the National Association of Realtors.  Vacancy rates below 5% usually constitute a landlord's market. 

Still a great year to buy a rental property if you can find one.   If you own a building already I still recommend tenant retention whenever possible.   If you don't get along with your tenants or they are moving any way, that would be the time to consider a larger rental increase, but you might have to do some work to get more money.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Senior Citizen Real Estate Tax Exemption

If you or your tenant were born before 1946 you are probably eligible for the senior tax exemption on your real estate taxes.  If this is for a tenant the exemption can still be claimed but the tenant has to pay the real estate taxes.  I would get an accountant involved here but it might be cheaper to reduce your tenants rent, have them pay the taxes with the exemption, then to pay the higher amount yourself but get the right-off.  Once again an account would need to work the number to see if this is the case.  Worth checking out if you have senior tenants.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012


TIF Vacant Building Rehab Ordinance

The TIF Vacant Building Rehab Ordinance final passed the city council in July and there is 1 million available for rehab work but only in one TIF District so far, Ogden Pulaski District.  Read more about it:
The new ordinance allows property owners to bundle several two and three flats together for one rehab development.  I think this should make the project more appealing as most of the vacant building are smaller properties.

Or to see the exact boundaries of the Ogden Pulaski TIF District:

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