Emergency Situations

Are you being forced from your home? Is your living situation putting you in danger? Are the conditions of your apartment an immediate risk to your health or safety? Emergency situations in housing do arise and you may need to take action before you are able to consult with an attorney or advocate.

My landlord gave me a five day notice to vacate.

A five day notice is the first step in the eviction process if your landlord is accusing you of not paying your rent. Please read your notice carefully and pay special attention to the date and the amount requested. If you are able to pay the TOTAL amount requested within five days of the date on the notice, that should stop the eviction process. If you choose to pay the amount requested, you should request a written receipt from your landlord and pay by money order or check to ensure you have proof of your payment. You may also want to bring a witness with you to confirm that your landlord accepted your payment. Please note that a partial payment will not stop the eviction process. Once the five days has passed, your landlord is not obligated to accept your money and can proceed with the eviction process. At that point you should consider consulting an attorney about your options.
Read more about the eviction process.

My landlord gave me a ten day notice to vacate.

A ten day notice is the first step in the eviction process if your landlord is accusing you of violating the terms of your lease. Please read your notice carefully and pay special attention to the date and the alleged lease violation. If you are able to cure (fix) the alleged violation within ten days of the notice that should halt the eviction process. If you choose to cure (fix) the alleged violation, you should write a letter to your landlord informing him or her that you are curing (fixing) the alleged lease violation and send it within the ten day period. Once the ten days has passed, your landlord may proceed with the eviction process even if you stop the alleged lease violation. At that point you should consider consulting an attorney about your options.
Read more about the eviction process.

My landlord locked me out of my apartment.

A landlord cannot legally lockout a tenant out of his or her apartment without getting a court order from a judge and placing it with the sheriff's office. Any other attempts to lock out a tenant are illegal and the police should be contacted immediately. Inform the police that you have been locked out of your apartment by your landlord and ask the office to assist you in reentering your home. If the police officer refuses to assist, you should remind the office that the landlord's actions are in violation of Section 5-12-160 of the Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance and Police Special Order #93-12. If the officer still refuses to assist, you should get his badge number and ask to speak with the watch commander. Make sure to get a copy of the police report as you may need it for further legal action against your landlord. You should consult with an attorney about your rights and options.
Read more about illegal lockouts.

I received a notice from the sheriff telling me that they are coming out to evict me from my apartment.

The sheriff’s office may send a letter informing you that the court has ordered your eviction before coming to remove you from your apartment. There is no fixed time frame after receiving that letter for the Sheriff to come out to evict you. If you are still in the property when the Sheriff comes, the Sheriff will remove you from the property and supervise your landlord in changing the locks. After this occurs, you will have to negotiate with the landlord to get any belongings that are left behind in the unit. The Sheriff will not remove your property for you, and you will not have time to remove your belongings once the Sheriff arrives for the eviction.
Read more about the eviction process.

I received an Order to Vacate Premises from the court.

In extreme circumstances, renters can be ordered to vacate a building that has been deemed unsafe or uninhabitable by the City of Chicago. This is NOT an eviction order. In these very rare situations, a renter may be removed from the property by the Police Department without having ever been summoned to court. Renters should receive notice of the imminent eviction, and sometimes, assistance in relocating. If a renter fails to relocate in the allotted amount of time, the Chicago Police Department may remove any remaining occupants. Unsafe buildings must be boarded-up and secured. You should speak with an attorney as soon as possible because the time between when you receive the notice and when you are required to vacate is often very short.

My landlord turned off my utilities.

Under the Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance you have several options if your landlord turns off one of your essential services (heat, running water, electricity, gas, or plumbing). Before you can exercise any of your rights, you must give your landlord written notice of the problem. In the letter, you must inform your landlord of the problem and ask for the essential service to be restores. You must also inform your landlord that if the service is not restored within 72 hours, you will do one of the following:

  1. Pay the outstanding utility bill and deduct the payment from your rent.
  2. Reduce your rent to reflect the diminished value of your apartment. Please keep in mind that this must be a "reasonable" reduction and that rent should never be completely withheld.
  3. Terminate your lease and move out of the apartment.

Please note that these remedies are not available if a utility is turned off because of the tenant's failure to pay a bill that is the tenant's responsibility under the terms of the lease.
Read more about utilities (essential services).

I have heat in my apartment, but it is too cold.

Between September 15 and June 1, your landlord is required to keep your apartment above a certain minimum temperature. During this time frame, your unit must be maintained according to the following guidelines:

  • 68 degrees from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
  • 66 degrees from 10:30 p.m. to 8:30 a.m.

If you have heat, but it is not at the minimum temperature required, you should call 311 and start keeping a heat diary of the temperature in your apartment. Record the temperature three times a day for a week to document the problem. Alert your Landlord to the problem in writing and include the results of your temperature testing. Request that he increase the heat to be in compliance with the Chicago Municipal Code. If this does not fix the problem, call the City’s heat hotline at 312-744-5000. If at any time it becomes dangerously cold in your apartment, you can call 311 and ask to be transported to one of the city's heat shelters.
Read more about utilities (essential services).