Especially in Chicago, September seems to be the beginning of a the “new year” for renting. The huge number of Chicago leases run through the end of September and this means that October 1 is usually the biggest moving day in the city. That also means that September is the month when it is, theoretically, easiest for fast-acting tenants to find a rental or quality landlords to find a tenant because so many leases are expiring at month’s end. Those new October leases and increased demand also bring increased rents with them.
A few helpful reminders for landlords: Be aware of new laws that affect you this year (lock-change laws, fair housing changes regarding section 8 housing, bed-bug legislation, etc.). Make sure you have the right kind of lease. I can’t say it enough: there is no such thing as a “standard” Chicago apartment lease. Every lease needs customization. Landlords need to be smart when it comes to applicants. Don’t violate fair housing laws but do scrutinize and check references. Don’t jump at a bad tenant just to get a unit rented. Do things right and try to pick the best tenant which makes life as landlord much easier later on.
Landlords should also be aware that shortly after renting season cools, eviction season begins. Most landlords take a security deposit and first month’s rent. So, trouble usually begins to bubble with that first late payment or bounced check in November. Landlords, don’t wait until the problem gets worse. When a tenant pays late, serve them a five day notice. Excuses are nice. Money is better. Don’t let that tenant get too far behind before doing something about it. Remember, the Sheriff is usually backed up in December and beyond because of the cold weather. Landlords who delay taking action to remove a bad tenant risk additional delays due to holidays and the rigors of winter.
The renting season can be an exciting time for landlords and 2013 seems to be shaping up to be a good market for landlords. Landlords who have good procedures in place should find lots of great opportunities in the new season.