Renters want to live in well-maintained apartments and landlords want to keep renters happy -- otherwise they may struggle to fill vacancies, a chronic concern and the bane of every landlord’s existence. Keeping the apartment in good shape isn’t just a matter of convenience and curb appeal; it’s a matter of safety for anyone who’s going to live in the rental unit and it affects the landlord’s bottom line. After all, renters aren’t going to pay premium prices for an apartment that’s in shabby condition.

Are Landlords Required to Make Repairs in Chicago Apartments?

Are landlords the only ones who can make repairs to the apartment? Ultimately, it does rest on the landlord’s shoulders to make prompt repairs. But some fixes are within the realm of possibility for enterprising renters to tackle on their own (of course it’s strongly advised renters check their lease agreement to see if DIY repairs and improvements are allowed). Renters who have a DIY streak can now turn to a community resource located in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood, the Chicago Tool Library.

What Is The Chicago Tool Library & How Can Renters Use It?

The Chicago Tool Library is a local nonprofit that empowers residents with access to the tools and knowledge they need to get these jobs done at minimal cost. The Tool Library’s website describes its mission as providing, “equitable access to tools, equipment, and information to allow all Chicagoans to learn, share, and create.”

The key pillars of their approach to equitable access are minimizing cost and removing the burden of storing tools. These are two of the largest barriers to most renters who are eager about delving into the DIY sphere. Sharing knowledge with the community and building confidence are two additional perks for members.

The Chicago Tool Library was started in the summer of 2019 and renters can join in a few simple steps. All it takes is proof of residence in the city and a nominal membership fee. The Tool Library charges membership fees on a sliding scale, so there’s flexibility for renters to make it work within their means and join this community nonprofit resource. 

Is It a Good Idea for Renters to Make Repairs to Their Apartments?

To reiterate, it’s always a good idea for renters to double-check the terms of their apartment lease to see whether tenants can make repairs to the property. And renters would be wise to thoroughly assess the scope of any repairs before they check out the right tools to tackle the job themselves. In case there’s any accidental damage to the apartment, say from the DIY repair going awry, then renters will be on the hook for that unexpected consequence. Tenants should check their lease agreements and scrutinize their renter’s insurance policies (assuming they have coverage) to make sure that any unintentional damage resulting from repair work will be covered. If renters inflict more damage to the apartment over the course of a repair job, then it could be a significant loss for their security deposit. Landlords will also want to double-check their insurance policies to see if damages inflicted by renters over the course of DIY repair jobs are covered.

In case tenants are restricted from doing some work on the apartment, having a resource like the Chicago Tool Library in town means that renters can always suggest their landlords get a membership instead. This may eliminate any stock excuse that landlords have about not being able to make repairs -- they can always check out the necessary tools from the library.