New Door Locks for Tenants: Out Of The Frying Pan And Into The Fire
You are trying your best NOT to become a “foreclosed condo in Chicago” statistic. You cut back your expenses, still not enough income to pay the mortgage. You contact your lender and attempt to become a “Short Sale Homes in Chicago” statistic…yeah, no need to get into the details on what happened or more likely did not happen with those conversations. (Do not worry, it was not you, they treat everyone that way.) You even meet with the free HUD counselors. They confirm there is not any special program for which you qualify.
As the last resort, you rent out your condominium (thank goodness there are all those other “foreclosed condo in Chicago” statistics that have the money to pay you rent). You are now living (fill in the blank):
- in a smaller/cheaper rental place
- with friends, with your parents
- with your ex-wife or ex-husband
- in the street
Not the best case scenario but at least the rent you are getting from the third party keeps you from becoming a “foreclosed condo in Chicago” statistic.
What you might not have realized, however, is while you are paying – or more accurately, while your tenant is paying — your mortgage, association dues, taxes, etc.; you are now officially a Landlord. Since you have a tenant, you are accountable for your actions or inactions with regard to that tenant under all the landlord/tenant statutes that apply.
One of those statutes, the Illinois Landlord and Tenant Act, created a new Landlord obligation, effective January 2012. You — the landlord, must change the door locks for each new tenant. If you choose not to comply with this law, you could be found liable to the tenant for damages sustained where the tenant’s property is stolen and it seems that the person gained access because they had a key. To read the specific language of the law, do a search using “765 ILCS 705/15” as the search term and the statute will pop right up.
While there are some exceptions to this rule, please do not take any chances. If you are renting out your unit, become familiar with the statutes for which you are now responsible. In addition, by all means – change the locks for each new tenant. You certainly do not want to give up your home to a tenant so you stay out of foreclosure court only to have the tenant sue you.