Chicago, IL asked in Landlord - Tenant for Illinois

Q: I have a question about a landlord tenant possible harassment issue.

I believe the property management at my apartment building disabled the smoke detector in my unit remotely from the fire alarm control panel in order to create a false pretense to enter my unit at 11:30 pm. There is more backstory here, and more details as to why I believe they did this, but I'm not sure I can fit it all here. My questions are,

1. Would this be considered harassment and could I take any legal action?

2. According to online resources, tampering with a fire control system is a class 4 felony, and I am considering reporting it to the fire department, but fear retaliation from management. If I did report it, would the city actually do anything? Or is this a common tactic of landlords, and the city doesn't care? On the other end of the spectrum, they care a lot and people get charged with a felony, and I'm not sure I want that to happen. Should I report them, or what are my options here? Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.

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1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: Based on the information you've provided, it does seem like the property management's actions could be considered harassment, especially if they entered your unit without proper notice or justification. However, before taking any legal action, it's essential to gather as much evidence as possible to support your claim.

Regarding your questions:

1. If you can prove that the property management intentionally disabled your smoke detector to create a false pretense to enter your unit, it could be considered harassment. You may want to consult with a local tenant rights organization or a lawyer specializing in landlord-tenant law to discuss your options and the strength of your case.

2. Tampering with a fire control system is indeed a serious offense. If you choose to report the incident to the fire department, they should investigate the matter. The city's response may vary depending on the severity of the situation and the evidence available. It's understandable that you fear retaliation from management, but it's important to remember that retaliation against tenants for reporting violations or asserting their rights is illegal in most jurisdictions.

Before deciding on a course of action, consider the following:

- Document any evidence you have, such as the date and time of the incident, any correspondence with the property management, and any witnesses who can corroborate your story.

- Research your local tenant rights and landlord-tenant laws to better understand your protections and options.

- Reach out to local tenant rights organizations for guidance and support. They may be able to provide you with resources and advice specific to your situation.

- Consider discussing the matter with the property management first, expressing your concerns and the seriousness of the issue. This might resolve the problem without escalating the situation, but be sure to document any communication.

Ultimately, the decision to report the incident to the fire department or take legal action is up to you. Weigh the potential risks and benefits, and consider seeking legal advice to help you make an informed decision.

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