Know Your Renters' Rights? - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Know Your Renters' Rights?

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Can your landlord force you out of your home? It's what residents in Dewitt, IA are asking after their landlord told them they need to be out by the end of next month. 

Landlords are required by law to provide a certain amount of notice. In Iowa, they are required to give renters 30 days' notice for apartments and other rentals, and 60 days' notice if you own a mobile home. 

In Illinois, it's 30 days' notice for all rentals if you don't have a lease, or the length of your lease. That doesn't apply to leases more than a year long. 

Legal experts say landlords can force you out without a reason if they give the proper notice. It's a lesson some are learning the hard way. 

"It's hard right now," Resident Charles Ostler says. 

He and his neighbors were shocked to get a notice last week saying they need to be out by the end of April because the property these mobile homes sit on will be sold to make way for a new development. 

"We were hurt because now everybody's got to move," he says. 

Most renters there are on a month to month lease or had no lease at all, but the rules for notice still apply. 

"I thought he would have to give us more time," Ostler says. 

Lawyer Stephen Newport says it's a common mistake among renters. 

"Not knowing the terms of the agreements and assuming things that aren't true," Newport says. 

He's taken up similar cases for 20 years and says the first thing about protecting yourself is to get a lease. 

"You have to be offered a lease," he says, "That just protects the tenant and the landlord both." 

And also know what you signed. 

"People say, ‘Well I don't have a copy of the lease, I didn't know I wasn't supposed to do that,' if the landlord wants to hold their feet to the fire they can," he says. 

If you're behind on rent, you still have rights. Landlords need to give you three days' notice in Iowa, and five in Illinois, before trying to evict you. And the eviction process can give you time to move out, about a week for apartments or longer. 

"In a mobile home, they usually give them longer than that because the judges know they can't get out by Friday, from Tuesday to Friday, that's not reasonable," Newport says. 

As for Ostler, he doesn't know where he'll go now.

"We've been looking, don't have any no luck yet, just hoping," he says. 

But he does know one thing. 

"From now on I'm going to have a lease," Ostler says. 

If you think your rights as a renter are being violated, legal experts recommend you contact a lawyer for advice and go from there. You can apply for free legal aid or get a referral to a low-cost aid office at places like Iowa or Illinois Legal Aid.

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