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Home » Chicago Laws, Chicago-specific Guide, Rental Laws

Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance

last updated on November 23, 2010 – 11:17 AM198 comments

This Ordinance applies to residences within the city of Chicago only. Please see the Exceptions to the RLTO to ensure the law applies to you.
For tenants in suburban Chicagoland, please click here for the law as it applies in your town.

For specific advice on your situtation, you can call our free tenants rights hotline at 773.292.4988 Monday – Friday, 1 – 5pm or email your question to us here.

CHAPTER 5-12
Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance (RLTO)

5-12-010 Title, Purpose And Scope.
This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the “Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance”, and shall be liberally construed and applied to promote its purposes and policies.

It is the purpose of this chapter and the policy of the city, in order to protect and promote the public health, safety and welfare of its citizens, to establish the rights and obligations of the landlord and the tenant in the rental of dwelling units, and to encourage the landlord and the tenant to maintain and improve the quality of housing.

This chapter applies to, regulates and determines rights, obligations and remedies under every rental agreement for a dwelling unit located within the City of Chicago, regardless of where the agreement is made, subject only to the limitations contained in Section 5-12-020 This chapter applies specifically to rental agreements for dwelling units operated under subsidy programs of agencies of the United States and/or the State of Illinois, including specifically, programs operated or subsidized by the Chicago Housing Authority and/or the Illinois Housing Development Authority to the extent that this chapter is not in direct conflict with statutory or regulatory provisions governing such programs. (Prior code § 193.1-1; Added Council Journal of Proceedings, September 8, 1986, page 33771; Amend. Council Journal of Proceedings, November 6, 1991, page 7198; Amend. Council Journal of Proceedings, March 31, 2004, page 20938 )

5-12-020 Exclusions.
Rental of the following dwelling units shall not be governed by this chapter, unless the rental agreement thereof is created to avoid the application of this chapter:

(a) dwelling units in owner-occupied buildings containing six units or less; provided, however, that the provisions of Section 5-12-160 shall apply to every rented dwelling unit in such buildings within the City of Chicago;

(b) dwelling units in hotels, motels, inns, bed-and-breakfast establishments, rooming houses and boardinghouses, but only until such time as the dwelling unit has been occupied by a tenant for 32 or more continuous days and tenant pays a monthly rent, exclusive of any period of wrongful occupancy contrary to agreement with an owner. Notwithstanding the above, the prohibition against interruption of tenant occupancy set forth in Section 5-12-160 shall apply to every rented dwelling unit in such buildings within the City of Chicago. No landlord shall bring an action to recover possession of such unit, or avoid renting monthly in order to avoid the application of this chapter. Any willful attempt to avoid application of this chapter by an owner may be punishable by criminal or civil action;

(c) housing accommodations in any hospital, convent, monastery, extended care facility, asylum or not-for-profit home for the aged, temporary overnight shelter, transitional shelter, or in a dormitory owned and operated by an elementary school, high school or institution of higher learning; student housing accommodations wherein a housing agreement or housing contract is entered into between the student and an institution of higher learning or student housing wherein the institution exercises control or supervision of the students; or student housing owned and operated by a tax exempt organization affiliated with an institution of higher learning.

(d) a dwelling unit that is occupied by a purchaser pursuant to a real estate purchase contract prior to the transfer of title to such property to such purchaser, or by a seller of property pursuant to a real estate purchase contract subsequent to the transfer of title from such seller;

(e) a dwelling unit occupied by an employee of a landlord whose right to occupancy is conditional upon employment in or about the premises; and

(f) a dwelling unit in a cooperative occupied by a holder of a proprietary lease. (Prior code § 193.1-2; Added Council Journal of Proceedings, September 8, 1986, page 33771; Amend. Council Journal of Proceedings, November 6, 1991, pages 7198 — 7199; Amend, Council Journal of Proceedings, September 4, 2003, page 7130)

5-12-030 Definitions.
Whenever used in this chapter, the following words and phrases shall have the following meanings:

(a) “Dwelling unit” means a structure or the part of a structure that is used as a home,
residence or sleeping place by one or more persons who maintain a household, together
with the common areas, land and appurtenant buildings thereto, and all housing services,
privileges, furnishings and facilities supplied in connection with the use or occupancy
thereof, including garage and parking facilities.

(b) “Landlord” means the owner, agent, lessor or sublessor, or the successor m interest of any of them, of a dwelling unit or the building of which it is part.

(c) “Owner” means one or more persons, jointly or severally, in whom is vested all or part of the legal title to property, or all or part of the beneficial ownership and a right to present use and enjoyment of the premises, including a mortgagee in possession.

(d) “Person” means an individual, corporation, government, governmental subdivision or agency, business trust, estate, trust, partnership or association or any other legal or commercial entity.

(e) “Premises” means the dwelling unit and the structure of which it is a part, and facilities and appurtenances therein, and grounds, areas and facilities held out for the use of tenants.

(f) “Rent” means any consideration, including any payment, bonus, benefits or gratuity, demanded or received by a landlord for or in connection with the use or occupancy of a dwelling unit.

(g) “Rental agreement” means all written or oral agreements embodying the terms and conditions concerning the use and occupancy of a dwelling unit.

(h) “Successor landlord” means any person who follows a landlord in ownership or control of a dwelling unit or the building of which it is part, and shall include a lienholder who takes ownership or control either by contract, operation of law or a court order. However, a “successor landlord” shall not include a receiver pursuant to a court order.

(i) “Tenant” means a person entitled by written or oral agreement, subtenancy approved by the landlord or by sufferance, to occupy a dwelling unit to the exclusion of others. (Prior code § 193.1-3; Added Council Journal of Proceedings, September 8, 1986, page 33771; Amend. Council Journal of Proceedings November 6, 1991, page 7199, Amend, Council Journal of Proceedings, May 12, 2010, page 91084)

5-12-040 Tenant Responsibilities.
Every tenant must:

(a) comply with all obligations imposed specifically upon tenants by provisions of the municipal code applicable to dwelling units;

(b) keep that part of the premises that he occupies and uses as safe as the condition of the premises permits;

(c) dispose of all ashes, rubbish, garbage and other waste from his dwelling unit in a clean and safe manner;

(d) keep all plumbing fixtures in the dwelling unit or used by the tenants as clean as their condition permits;

(e) use in a reasonable manner all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning and other facilities and appliances, including elevators, in the premises;

(f) not deliberately or negligently destroy, deface, damage, impair or remove any part of the premises or knowingly permit any person on the premises with his consent to do so; and

(g) conduct himself and require other persons on the premises with his consent to conduct themselves in a manner that will not disturb his neighbors’ peaceful enjoyment of the premises.
(Prior code § 193.1-4; Added Council Journal of Proceedings, September 8, 1986, page 33771)

5-12-050 Landlord’s Right Of Access.
A tenant shall not unreasonably withhold consent to the landlord to enter the dwelling unit:

(a) to make necessary or agreed repairs, decorations, alterations or improvements;

(b) to supply necessary or agreed services;

(c) to conduct inspections authorized or required by any government agency;

(d) to exhibit the dwelling unit to prospective or actual purchasers, mortgagees, workmen or contractors;

(e) to exhibit the dwelling unit to prospective tenants 60 days or less prior to the expiration of the existing rental agreement;

(f) for practical necessity where repairs or maintenance elsewhere in the building unexpectedly require such access;

(g) to determine a tenant̓s compliance with provisions in the rental agreement; and

(h) in case of emergency.

The landlord shall not abuse the right of access or use it to harass the tenant Except in cases where access is authorized by subsection (f) or (h) of this section, the landlord shall give the tenant notice of the landlord’s intent to enter of no less than two days. Such notice shall be provided directly to each dwelling unit by mail, telephone, written notice to the dwelling unit, or by other reasonable means designed in good faith to provide notice to the tenant. If access is required because of repair work or common facilities or other apartments, a general notice may be given by the landlord to all potentially affected tenants that entry may be required. In cases where access is authorized by subsection (f) or (h) of this section, the landlord may enter the dwelling unit without notice or consent of the tenant. The landlord shall give the tenant notice of such entry within two days after such entry.

The landlord may enter only at reasonable times except in case of an emergency. An entry between 8:00 A.M. and 8:00 P.M. or at any other time expressly requested by the tenant shall be presumed reasonable. (Prior code § 193.1-5; Added Council Journal of Proceedings, September 8, 1986, page 33771)

5-12-060 Remedies For Improper Denial Of Access.
If the tenant refuses to allow lawful access, the landlord may obtain injunctive relief to compel access or terminate the rental agreement pursuant to Section 5-12-130(b) of this chapter. In either case, the landlord may recover damages.

If the landlord makes an unlawful entry or a lawful entry in an unreasonable manner or makes repeated unreasonable demands for entry otherwise lawful, but which have the effect of harassing the tenant, the tenant may obtain injunctive relief to prevent the recurrence of the conduct, or terminate the rental agreement pursuant to the notice provisions of Section 5-12-110(a). In each case, the tenant may recover an amount equal to not more than one months rent or twice the damage sustained by him, whichever is greater. (Prior code § 193.1-6; Added Council Journal of Proceedings,
September 8, 1986, page 33771; Amend. Council Journal of Proceedings, November 6, 1991, page 7202)

5-12-070 Landlord’s Responsibility To Maintain.
The landlord shall maintain the premises in compliance with all applicable provisions of the municipal code and shall promptly make any and all repairs necessary to fulfill this obligation.
(Prior code § 193.1-7; Added Council Journal of Proceedings, September 8, 1986, page 33771;
Amend July 28, 2010 (Doc. No. 02010-3654)

5-12-080 Security Deposits.
(a) (1) A landlord shall hold all security deposits received by him in a federally insured interest-bearing account in a bank, savings and loan association or other financial institution located in the State of Illinois. A security deposit and interest due thereon shall continue to be the property of the tenant making such deposit, shall not be commingled with the assets of the landlord, and shall not be subject to the claims of any creditor of the landlord or of the landlord’s successors in interest, including a foreclosing mortgagee or trustee in bankruptcy. (Amend July 28, 2010 (Doc. No. O2010-3654)

(2) Notwithstanding subsection (a)(1), a landlord may accept the payment of the first month’s rent and security deposit in one check or one electronic funds transfer, and deposit the check or electronic funds transfer into one account, if within 5 business days of the acceptance of the check or electronic transfer, the landlord transfers the amount of the security deposit into a separate account that complies with subsection (a)(1). (Amend July 28, 2010 (Doc. No. O2010-3654)

(3) The name and address of the financial institution where the security deposit will be deposited shall be clearly and conspicuously disclosed in the written rental agreement signed by the tenant. If no written rental agreement is provided, the landlord shall, within 14 days of receipt of the security deposit, notify the tenant in writing of the name and address of the financial institution where the security deposit was deposited. (Amend July 28, 2010 (Doc. No. O2010-3654)

If, during the pendency of the rental agreement, a security deposit is transferred from one financial institution to another, the landlord shall, within 14 days of such transfer, notify the tenant in writing of the name and address of the new financial institution. (Amend July 28, 2010 (Doc. No. O2010-3654)

(4) Notwithstanding subsection (a)(1), a landlord shall not be considered to be commingling the security deposits with the landlord’s assets if there is excess interest in the account in which the security deposits are deposited. “Excess interest” means the amount of money in excess of the total amount of security deposits deposited into the account plus any interest due thereon. (Amend July 28, 2010 (Doc. No. O2010-3654)

(b) (1) Except as provider for in subsection (b)(2), any landlord who receives a security deposit from a tenant or prospective tenant shall give said tenant or prospective tenant at the time of receiving such security deposit a receipt indicating the amount of such security deposit, the name of the person receiving it and, in the case of the agent, the name of the landlord for whom such security deposit is received, the date on which it is received, and a description of the dwelling unit. The receipt shall be signed by the person receiving the security deposit. Failure to comply with this subsection shall entitle the tenant to immediate return of security deposit. (Amend July 28, 2010 (Doc. No. O2010-3654)

(2) Upon payment of the security deposit by means of an electronic funds transfer, the landlord shall give the tenant a receipt that complies with subsection (b)(1), or an electronic receipt that acknowledges the receipt of the security deposit. The electronic receipt shall set forth the date of the receipt of the security deposit, the amount of the deposit, a description of the dwelling unit and an electronic or digital signature, as those terms are defined in 5 ILCS 175/5-105, of the person receiving the deposit. (Amend July 28, 2010 (Doc. No. O2010-3654)

(c) A landlord who holds a security deposit or prepaid rent pursuant to this section shall pay interest to the tenant accruing from the beginning date of the rental term specified in the rental agreement at the rate determined in accordance with Section 5-12-081 for the year in which the rental agreement was entered into. The landlord shall, within 30 days after the end of each 12-month rental period, pay to the tenant any interest, by cash or credit to be applied to the rent due. (Amend. Council Journal of Proceedings, November 6, 1991, page 7203; Added Council Journal of Proceedings, May 14, 1997, page 4516; Amend. Council Journal of Proceedings, March 31, 2004, page 20939, July 28, 2010 (Doc. No. O2010-3654))

(d) The landlord shall, within 45 days after the date that the tenant vacates the dwelling unit or within 7 days after the date that the tenant provides notice of termination of the rental agreement pursuant to Section 5-12-110(g), return to the tenant the security deposit or any balance thereof and the required interest thereon; provided, however, that the landlord may deduct from such security deposit or interest due thereon for the following: (Amend July 28, 2010 (Doc. No. O2010-3654)

(1) any unpaid rent which has not been validly withheld or deducted pursuant to state or federal law or local ordinance; and (Amend July 28, 2010 (Doc. No. O2010-3654)

(2) a reasonable amount necessary to repair any damage caused to the premises by the tenant or any person under the tenant’s control or on the premises with the tenant’s consent, reasonable wear and tear excluded. In case of such damage, the landlord shall deliver or mail to the last known address of the tenant within 30 days an itemized statement of the damages allegedly caused to the premises and the estimated or actual cost for repairing or replacing each item on that statement, attaching copies of the paid receipts for the repair or replacement. If estimated cost is given, the landlord shall furnish the tenant with copies of paid receipts or a certification of actual costs of repairs of damage if the work was performed by the landlord’s employees within 30 days from the date the statement showing estimated cost was furnished to the tenant. (Amend July 28, 2010 (Doc. No. O2010-3654)

(e) In the event of a sale, lease, transfer of ownership or control or other direct or indirect disposition of residential real property by a landlord who has received a security deposit or prepaid rent from a tenant, the successor landlord of such property shall be liable to that tenant for any security deposit, including statutory interest, or prepaid rent which the tenant has paid to the transferor.

The successor landlord shall, within 14 days from the date of such transfer, notify the tenant who made such security deposit by delivering or mailing to the tenant’s last known address that such security deposit was transferred to the successor landlord and that the successor landlord is holding said security deposit. Such notice shall also contain the successor landlord’s name, business address, and business telephone number of the successor landlord’s agent, if any. The notice shall be in writing. (Amend July 28, 2010 (Doc. No. O2010-3654)

The transferor shall remain jointly and severally liable with the successor landlord to the tenant for such security deposit or prepaid rent, unless and until such transferor transfers said security deposit or prepaid rent to the successor landlord and provides notice, in writing, to the tenant of such transfer of said security deposit or prepaid rent, specifying the name, business address and business telephone number of the successor landlord or his agent within 10 days of said transfer.

(f) (1) Subject to subsection (f)(2), if the landlord fails to comply with any provision of Section 5-12-080 (a) — (e), the tenant shall be awarded damages in an amount equal to two times the security deposit plus interest at a rate determined in accordance with Section 5-12-081. This subsection does not preclude the tenant from recovering other damages to which he may be entitled under this chapter. (Prior code § 193.1-8; Added Council Journal of Proceedings, September 8, 1986, page 33771; Amend. Council Journal of Proceedings, November 6, 1991, page 7204; Added Council Journal of Proceedings, May14, 1997, page 45168, Amend Council Journal of Proceedings, May 12, 2010, page 91084, Added July 28, 2010, Doc. No. O2010-3654)

(2) If a landlord pays the interest on a security deposit or prepaid rent within the 30-day period provided for in subsection (c), or within the 45-day period provided for in subsection (d), whichever is applicable, but the amount of interest is deficient, the landlord shall not be liable for damages under subsection (f)(2) unless:

(A) the tenant gives written notice to the landlord that the amount of the interest returned was deficient; and

(B) within fourteen days of the receipt of the notice, the landlord fails to either:
(i) pay to the tenant the correct amount of interest due plus $50.00; or
(ii) provide to the tenant a written response which sets forth an explanation of how the interest paid was calculated.

If the tenant disagrees with the calculation of the interest, as set forth in the written response, the tenant may bring a cause of action in a court of competent jurisdiction challenging the correctness of the written response. If the court determines that the interest calculation was not accurate, the tenant shall be awarded damages in an amount equal to two times the security deposit plus interest at a rate determined in accordance with Section 5-12-081. (Amend July 28, 2010 (Doc. No. O2010-3654)

5-12-081 Interest Rate On Security Deposits.
During December of each year, the city comptroller shall review the status of banks within the city and interest rates on savings accounts, insured money market accounts and six (6) month certificates of deposit at commercial banks located within the city. On the first business day of each year, the comptroller shall announce the rates of interest, as of the last business day of the prior month, on savings accounts, insured money market accounts and six (6) month certificates of deposit at the commercial bank having the most number of branches located within the city. The rates for money market accounts and for certificates of deposit shall be based on the minimum deposits for such investments. The comptroller shall calculate and announce the average of the three rates. The average of these rates so announced by the comptroller shall be the rate of interest on security deposits under rental agreements governed by this chapter and made or renewed after the most recent announcement. (Added Council Journal of Proceedings, May 14, 1997, page 45168; Amend. Council Journal of Proceedings, May 14 2008) * Current rate — January 1, 2010 through December 31, 2010 is 0.073%. (Prior Year Interest Rates)

5-12-082 Interest Rate Notification.
The city comptroller, after computing the rate of interest on security deposit governed by this chapter, shall cause the new rate of security deposit interest to be published for five consecutive business days in two or more newspapers of general circulation in the city. The mayor shall direct the appropriate city department to prepare and publish for free public distribution at government offices, libraries, schools and community organizations, a pamphlet or brochure describing the respective rights, obligations and remedies of landlords and tenants with respect to security deposits, including the new interest rate as well as the interest rate for each of the prior two years. The commissioner shall also distribute the new rate of security deposit interest, as well as the interest rate for each of the prior two years, through public service announcements to all radio and television outlets broadcasting in the city. (Added Council Journal of Proceedings, May 7, 1997, page 45169)

5-12-090 Identification Of Owner And Agents.
A landlord or any person authorized to enter into an oral or written rental agreement on the landlord’s behalf shall disclose to the tenant in writing at or before the commencement of the tenancy the name, address, and telephone number of:

(a) the owner or person authorized to manage the premises; and

(b) a person authorized to act for and on behalf of the owner for the purpose of service of process and for the purpose of receiving and receipting for notices and demands.

A person who enters into a rental agreement and fails to comply with the requirements of this section becomes an agent of the landlord for the purpose of (i) service of process and receiving and receipting for notices and demands and (ii) performing the obligations of the landlord under this chapter under the rental agreement.

The information required to be furnished by this section shall be kept current and this section extends to and is enforceable against any successor landlord, owner or manager.

If the landlord fails to comply with this section, the tenant may terminate the rental agreement pursuant to the notice provisions of Section 5-12-110(a). If the landlord fails to comply with the requirements of this section after receipt of written notice pursuant to Section 5-12-110(a), the tenant shall recover one month’s rent or actual damages, whichever is greater. (Prior code § 193.1-9; Added Council Journal of Proceedings, September 8, 1986, page 33771; Amend, Council Journal of Proceedings, November 6, 1991, page 7205)

5-12-095 Tenants’ Notification of Foreclosure Action.

(a) Within seven (7) days of being served a foreclosure complaint, as defined in 735 ILCS 5/15-1504, an owner or landlord of a premises that is the subject of the foreclosure complaint shall disclose, in writing, to all tenants of the premises that a foreclosure action has been filed against the owner or landlord. An owner or landlord shall also disclose, in writing, the notice of foreclosure to any other third party who has a consistent pattern and practice of paying rent to the owner or landlord on behalf of a tenant.

Before a tenant initially enters into a rental agreement for a dwelling unit, the owner or landlord shall also disclose, in writing, that he is named in a foreclosure complaint.

The written disclosure shall include the court in which the foreclosure action is pending, the case name, and case number and shall include the following language:

“This is not a notice to vacate the premise. This notice does not mean ownership of the building has changed. All tenants are still responsible for payment of rent and other obligations under the rental agreement. The owner or landlord is still responsible for their obligations under the rental agreement. You shall receive additional notice if there is a change in owner.”

(b) If the owner or landlord fails to comply with this section, the tenant may terminate the rental agreement by written notice. The written notice shall specify the date of termination no later than thirty (30) days from the date of the written notice. In addition, if a tenant in a civil legal proceeding against an owner or landlord establishes that a violation of this section has occurred, he shall be entitled to recover $200.00 in damages, in addition to any other damages or remedies that the tenant may also be entitled. (Added Council Journal of Proceedings October 8, 2008, page 39857)

5-12-100 Notice Of Conditions Affecting Habitability.
Before a tenant initially enters into or renews a rental agreement for a dwelling unit, the landlord or any person authorized to enter into a rental agreement on his behalf shall disclose to the tenant in writing:

(a) Any code violations which have been cited by the City of Chicago during the previous 12 months for the dwelling unit and common areas and provide notice of the pendency of any code enforcement litigation or compliance board proceeding pursuant to Chapter 13-8-070 of the municipal code affecting the dwelling unit or common area. The notice shall provide the case number of the litigation and/or the identification number of the compliance board proceeding and a listing of any code violations cited. (Amend. Council Journal of Proceedings, November 6, 1991, page 7205)

(b) Any notice of intent by the City of Chicago or any utility provider to terminate water, gas, electrical or other utility service to the dwelling unit or common areas. The disclosure shall state the type of service to be terminated, the intended date of termination, and whether the termination will affect the dwelling unit, the common areas or both. A landlord shall be under a continuing obligation to provide disclosure of the information described in this subsection (b) throughout a tenancy. If a landlord violates this section, the tenant or prospective tenant shall be entitled to remedies described in Section 5-12-090. (Prior code §193.1-10, Added Council Journal of Proceedings,
September 8, 1986, page 33771; Amend, Council Journal of Proceedings, November 6, 1991, page 7206)

5-12-110 Tenant Remedies.
In addition to any remedies provided under federal law, a tenant shall have the remedies specified in this section under the circumstances herein set forth.

For purposes of this section, material noncompliance with Section 5-12-070 shall include, but is not limited to, any of the following circumstances:

failure to maintain the structural integrity of the building or structure or parts thereof;

failure to maintain floors in compliance with the safe load-bearing requirements of the municipal code;

failure to comply with applicable requirements of the municipal code for the number, width, construction, location or accessibility of exits;

failure to maintain exit, stairway, fire escape or directional signs where required by the municipal code;

failure to provide smoke detectors, sprinkler systems, standpipe systems, fire alarm systems, automatic fire detectors or fire extinguishers where required by the municipal code;

failure to maintain elevators in compliance with applicable provisions of the municipal code;

failure to provide and maintain in good working order a flush water closet, lavatory basin, bathtub or shower or kitchen sink;

failure to maintain heating facilities or gas-fired appliances in compliance with the requirements of the municipal code;

failure to provide heat or hot water in such amounts and at such levels and times as required by the municipal code;

failure to provide hot and cold running water as required by the municipal code;

failure to provide adequate hall or stairway lighting as required by the municipal code;

failure to maintain the foundation, exterior walls or exterior roof in sound condition and repair, substantially watertight and protected against rodents;

failure to maintain floors, interior walls or ceilings in sound condition and good repair;

failure to maintain windows, exterior doors or basement hatchways in sound condition and repair and substantially tight and to provide locks or security devices as required by the municipal code, including deadlatch locks, deadbolt locks, sash or ventilation locks, and front door windows or peep holes;

failure to supply screens where required by the municipal code;

failure to maintain stairways or porches in safe condition and sound repair;

failure to maintain the basement or cellar in a safe and sanitary condition;

failure to maintain facilities, equipment or chimneys in safe and sound working conditions;

failure to prevent the accumulation of stagnant water;

failure to exterminate insects, rodents or other pests;

failure to supply or maintain facilities for refuse disposal;

failure to prevent the accumulation of garbage, trash, refuse or debris as required by the municipal code;

failure to provide adequate light or ventilation as required by the municipal code;

failure to maintain plumbing facilities, piping, fixtures, appurtenances and appliances in good operating condition and repair;

failure to provide or maintain electrical systems, circuits, receptacles and devices as required by the municipal code;

failure to maintain and repair any equipment which the landlord supplies or is required to supply; or

failure to maintain the dwelling unit and common areas in a fit and habitable condition.

(a) Noncompliance By Landlord. If there is material noncompliance by the landlord with a rental agreement or with Section 5-12-070 either of which renders the premises not reasonably fit and habitable, the tenant under the rental agreement may deliver a written notice to the landlord specifying the acts and/or omissions constituting the material noncompliance and specifying that the rental agreement will terminate on a date not less than 14 days after receipt of the notice by the landlord, unless the material noncompliance is remedied by the landlord within the time period specified in the notice. If the material noncompliance is not remedied within the time period so specified in the notice, the rental agreement shall terminate, and the tenant shall deliver possession of the dwelling unit to the landlord within 30 days after the expiration of the time period specified in the notice. If possession shall not be so delivered, then the tenant’s notice shall be deemed withdrawn and the lease shall remain in full force and effect. If the rental agreement is terminated, the landlord shall return all prepaid rent, security and interest recoverable by the tenant under Section 5-12-080.

(b) Failure To Deliver Possession. If the landlord fails to deliver possession of the dwelling unit to the tenant in compliance with the residential rental agreement or Section 5-12-070, rent for the dwelling unit shall abate until possession is delivered, and the tenant may:

(1) upon written notice to the landlord, terminate the rental agreement and upon termination the landlord shall return all prepaid rent and security; or

(2) demand performance of the rental agreement by the landlord and, if the tenant elects, maintain an action for possession of the dwelling unit against the landlord or any person wrongfully in possession and recover the damages sustained by him.

If a person’s failure to deliver possession is wilful, an aggrieved person may recover from the person withholding possession an amount not more than two months’ rent or twice the actual damages sustained by him, whichever is greater.

(c) Minor Defects. If there is material noncompliance by the landlord with the rental agreement or with Section 5-12-070, and the reasonable cost of compliance does not exceed the greater of $500.00 or one-half of the monthly rent, the tenant may recover damages for the material noncompliance or may notify the landlord in writing of his intention to correct the condition at the landlord’s expense; provided, however, that this subsection shall not be applicable if the reasonable cost of compliance exceeds one month’s rent. If the landlord fails to correct the defect within 14 days after being notified by the tenant in writing or as promptly as conditions require in case of emergency, the tenant may have the work done in a workmanlike manner and in compliance with existing law and building regulations and, after submitting to the landlord a paid bill from an appropriate tradesman or supplier, deduct from his or her rent the amount thereof, not to exceed the limits specified by this subsection and not to exceed the reasonable price then customarily charged for such work. A tenant shall not repair at the landlord’s expense if the condition was caused by the deliberate or negligent act or omission of the tenant, a member of the tenant’s family, or other person on the premises with the tenant’s consent.

Before correcting a condition affecting facilities shared by more than one dwelling unit, the tenant shall notify all other affected tenants and shall cause the work to be done so as to create the least practical inconvenience to the other tenants. Nothing herein shall be deemed to grant any tenant any right to repair any common element or dwelling unit in a building subject to a condominium regime other than in accordance with the declaration and bylaws of such condominium building; provided, that the declaration and bylaws have not been created to avoid the application of this chapter.

For purposes of mechanics’ lien laws, repairs performed or materials furnished pursuant to this subsection shall not be construed as having been performed or furnished pursuant to authority of or with permission of the landlord.

(d) Failure To Maintain. If there is material noncompliance by the landlord with the rental agreement or with Section 5-12-070, the tenant may notify the landlord in writing of the tenant’s intention to withhold from the monthly rent an amount which reasonably reflects the reduced value of the premises due to the material noncompliance. If the landlord fails to correct the condition within 14 days after being notified by the tenant in writing, the tenant may, during the time such failure continues, deduct from the rent the stated amount. A tenant shall not withhold rent under this subsection if the condition was caused by the deliberate or negligent act or omission of the tenant, a member of the tenant’s family, or other person on the premises with the tenant’s consent.

(e) Damages And Injunctive Relief. If there is material noncompliance by the landlord with the rental agreement or with Section 5-12-070, the tenant may obtain injunctive relief, and/or recover damages by claim or defense. This subsection does not preclude the tenant from obtaining other relief to which he may be entitled under this chapter.

(f) Failure To Provide Essential Services. If there is material noncompliance by the landlord with the rental agreement or with Section 5-12-070, either of which constitutes an immediate danger to the health and safety of the tenant or if, contrary to the rental agreement or Section 5-12-070, the landlord fails to supply heat, running water, hot water, electricity, gas or plumbing, the tenant may give written notice to the landlord specifying the material noncompliance or failure. If the landlord has, pursuant to this ordinance or in the rental agreement, informed the tenant of an address at which notices to the landlord are to be received, the tenant shall mail or deliver the written notice required in this section to such address If the landlord has not informed the tenant of an address at which notices to the landlord are to be received, the written notice required in this section shall be delivered by mail to the last known address of the landlord or by other reasonable means designed in good faith to provide written notice to the landlord. After such notice, the tenant may during the period of the landlord’s noncompliance or failure:

(1) procure reasonable amounts of heat, running water, hot water, electricity, gas or plumbing service, as the case may be and upon presentation to the landlord of paid receipts deduct their cost from the rent; or

(2) recover damages based on the reduction in the fair rental value of the dwelling unit; or

(3) procure substitute housing, in which case the tenant is excused from paying rent for the period of the landlord’s noncompliance. The tenant may recover the cost of the reasonable value of the substitute housing up to an amount equal to the monthly rent for each month or portion thereof of noncompliance as prorated.

In addition to the remedies set forth in Section 5-12-110 (1) (1) — (3), the tenant may:

(4) withhold from the monthly rent an amount that reasonably reflects the reduced value of the premises due to the material noncompliance or failure if the landlord fails to correct the condition within 24 hours after being notified by the tenant; provided, however, that no rent shall be withheld if the failure is due to the inability of the utility provider to provide service; or

(5) terminate the rental agreement by written notice to the landlord if the material noncompliance or failure persists for more than 72 hours after the tenant has notified the landlord of the material noncompliance or failure; provided, however, that no termination shall be allowed if the failure is due to the inability of the utility provider to provide service. If the rental agreement is terminated, the landlord shall return all prepaid rent, security deposits and interest thereon in accordance with Section 5-12-080 and tenant shall deliver possession of the dwelling unit to the landlord within 30 days after the expiration of the 72 hour time period specified in the notice. If possession shall not be so delivered, then the tenant’s notice shall be deemed withdrawn and the lease shall remain in full force and effect.

If the tenant proceeds under this subsection (f), he may not proceed under subsection (c) or (d). The tenant may not exercise his rights under this subsection if the condition was caused by the deliberate or negligent act or omission of the tenant, a member of his family, or other person on the premises with his consent. Before correcting a condition, the repair of which will affect more than his own dwelling unit, the tenant shall notify all other tenants affected and shall cause the work to be done so as to result in the least practical inconvenience to other tenants.

(g) Fire Or Casualty Damage. If the dwelling unit or common area is damaged or destroyed by fire or casualty to an extent that the dwelling unit is in material noncompliance with the rental agreement or with Section 5-12-070, the tenant may:

(1) immediately vacate the premises and notify the landlord in writing within 14 days thereafter of the tenant’s intention to terminate the rental agreement, in which case the rental agreement terminates as of the date of the fire or casualty; or

(2) if continued occupancy is lawful, vacate any part of the dwelling unit rendered unusable by the fire or casualty, in which case the tenant’s liability for rent is reduced in proportion to the reduction in the fair rental value of the dwelling unit; or

(3) if the tenant desires to continue the tenancy, and if the landlord has promised or begun work to repair the damage or destruction but fails to carry out the work to restore the dwelling unit or common area diligently and within a reasonable time, notify the landlord in writing within 14 days after the tenant becomes aware that the work is not being carried out diligently or within a reasonable time of the tenant’s intention to terminate the rental agreement, m which case the rental agreement terminates as of the date of the fire or casualty.

If the rental agreement is terminated under this subsection (g), the landlord shall return all security and all prepaid rent in accordance with Section 5-12-080(d). Accounting for rent in the event of termination or apportionment shall be made as of the date of the fire or casualty. A tenant may not exercise remedies in this subsection if the fire or casualty damage was caused by the deliberate or negligent act or omission of the tenant, a member of his family or a person on the premises with his consent. (Prior code § 193. 1-1 1; Added, Council Journal of Proceedings, September 8, 1986,
page 33771; Amend, Council Journal of Proceedings, November 6, 1991, pages 7206 — 7212)

5-12-120 Subleases.
If the tenant terminates the rental agreement prior to its expiration date, except for cause authorized by this chapter, the landlord shall make a good faith effort to re-rent the tenant’s dwelling unit at a fair rental, which shall be the rent charged for comparable dwelling units in the premises or in the same neighborhood. The landlord shall accept a reasonable sublease proposed by the tenant without an assessment of additional fees or charges.

If the landlord succeeds in re-renting the dwelling unit at a fair rental, the tenant shall be liable for the amount by which the rent due from the date of premature termination to the termination of the initial rental agreement exceeds the fair rental subsequently received by the landlord from the date of premature termination to the termination of the initial rental agreement

If the landlord makes a good faith effort to re-rent the dwelling unit at a fair rental and is unsuccessful, the tenant shall be liable for the rent due for the period of the rental agreement. The tenant shall also be liable for the reasonable advertising costs incurred by the landlord in seeking to re-rent the dwelling unit. (Prior code § 193.1-12; Added Council Journal of Proceedings, September 8, 1986, page 33771)

5-12-130 Landlord Remedies.
Every landlord shall have the remedies specified in this section for the following circumstances:

(a) Failure To Pay Rent. If all or any portion of rent is unpaid when due and the tenant fails to pay the unpaid rent within five days after written notice by the landlord of his intention to terminate the rental agreement if rent is not so paid, the landlord may terminate the rental agreement. Nothing in this subsection shall affect a landlord’s obligation to provide notice of termination of tenancy in subsidized housing as required under federal law or regulations. A landlord may also maintain an action for rent and/or damages without terminating the rental agreement.

(b) Noncompliance By Tenant. If there is material noncompliance by a tenant with a rental agreement or with Section 5-12-040, the landlord of such tenant’s dwelling unit may deliver written notice to the tenant specifying the acts and/or omissions constituting the breach and that the rental agreement will terminate upon a date not less than 10 days after receipt of the notice, unless the breach is remedied by the tenant within that period of time. If the breach is not remedied within the 10 day period, the residential rental agreement shall terminate as provided in the notice. The landlord may recover damages and obtain injunctive relief for any material noncompliance by the tenant with the rental agreement or with Section 5-12-040. If the tenant’s noncompliance is wilful, the landlord may also recover reasonable attorney’s fees.

(c) Failure To Maintain. If there is material noncompliance by the tenant with Section 5-12-040 (other than subsection (g) thereof), and the tenant fails to comply as promptly as conditions permit in case of emergency or in cases other than emergencies within 14 days of receipt of written notice by the landlord specifying the breach and requesting that the tenant remedy it within that period of time, the landlord may enter the dwelling unit and have the necessary work done in the manner required by law. The landlord shall be entitled to reimbursement from the tenant of the costs of repairs under this section.

(d) Disturbance Of Others. If the tenant violates Section 5-12-040(g) within 60 days after receipt of a written notice as provided in subsection (b), the landlord may obtain injunctive relief against the conduct constituting the violation, or may terminate the rental agreement on 10 days written notice to the tenant.

(e) Abandonment. Abandonment of the dwelling unit shall be deemed to have occurred when:

(1) actual notice has been provided to the landlord by the tenant indicating the tenant’s intention not to return to the dwelling unit, or

(2) all persons entitled under a rental agreement to occupy the dwelling unit have been absent from the unit or a period of 21 days or for one rental period when the rental agreement is for less than a month, and such persons have removed their personal property from the premises, and rent for that period is unpaid; or

(3) all persons entitled under a rental agreement to occupy the dwelling unit have been absent from the unit for a period of 32 days, and rent for that period is unpaid.

Notwithstanding the above, abandonment of the dwelling unit shall not be deemed to have occurred if any person entitled to occupancy has provided the landlord a written notice indicating that he still intends to occupy the unit and makes full payment of all amounts due to the landlord.

If the tenant abandons the dwelling unit, the landlord shall make a good faith effort to re-rent it at a fair rental, which shall be the rent charged for comparable dwelling units in the premises or in the same neighborhood. If the landlord succeeds in re-renting the dwelling unit at a fair rental, the tenant shall be liable for the amount by which the rent due from the date of abandonment to the termination of the initial rental agreement exceeds the fair rental subsequently received by the landlord from the date of abandonment to the termination of the initial rental agreement. If the landlord makes a good faith effort to re-rent the dwelling unit at a fair rental and is unsuccessful, the tenant shall be liable for the rent due for the period of the rental agreement. The tenant shall also be liable for the reasonable advertising expenses and reasonable redecoration costs incurred by the landlord pursuant to this subsection.

(f) Disposition of Abandoned Property. If the tenant abandons the dwelling unit as described in subsection (e) hereof, or fails to remove his personal property from the premises after termination of a rental agreement, the landlord shall leave the property in the dwelling unit or remove and store all abandoned property from the dwelling unit and may dispose of the property after seven days. Notwithstanding the foregoing, if the landlord reasonably believes such abandoned property to be valueless or of such little value that the cost of storage would exceed the amount that would be realized from sale, or if such property is subject to spoilage, the landlord may immediately dispose of such property.

(g) Waiver of Landlord’s Right to Terminate. If the landlord accepts the rent due knowing that there is a default in payment of rent by the tenant, he thereby waives his right to terminate the rental agreement for that breach.

(h) Remedy after Termination. If the rental agreement is terminated, the landlord shall have a claim for possession and/or for rent.

(i) Notice of Renewal of Rental Agreement. No tenant shall be required to renew a rental agreement more than 90 days prior to the termination date of the rental agreement. If the landlord violates this subsection, the tenant shall recover one month’s rent or actual damages, whichever is greater

(j) Notice of Refusal to Renew Rental Agreement. Provided that the landlord has not exercised, or is not in the process of exercising, any of its rights under Section 5-12-130 (a) — (h) hereof, the landlord shall notify the tenant in writing at least 30 days prior to the stated termination date of the rental agreement of the landlord’s intent either to terminate a month to month tenancy or not to renew an existing rental agreement. If the landlord fails to give the required written notice, the tenant may remain in the dwelling unit for up to 60 days after the date on which such required written notice is given to the tenant, regardless of the termination date specified in the existing rental agreement. During such occupancy, the terms and conditions of the tenancy (including, without limitation, the rental rate) shall be the same as the terms and conditions during the month of tenancy immediately preceding the notice; provided, however, that if rent was waived or abated in the preceding month or months as part of the original rental agreement, the rental amount during such 60 day period shall be at the rate established on the last date that a full rent payment was made. (Prior Code §193.1-13; Added Council Journal of Proceedings, September 8, 1986, page 33771; Amend, Council Journal of Proceedings, November 6, 1991, page 7215)

5-12-140 Rental Agreement.
Except as otherwise specifically provided by this chapter, no rental agreement may provide that the landlord or tenant:

(a) agrees to waive or forego rights, remedies or obligations provided under this chapter;

(b) authorizes any person to confess judgment on a claim arising out of the rental agreement;

(c) agrees to the limitation of any liability of the landlord or tenant arising under law;

(d) agrees to waive any written termination of tenancy notice or manner of service thereof provided under state law or this chapter;

(e) agrees to waive the right of any party to a trial by jury;

(f) agrees that in the event of a lawsuit arising out of the tenancy the tenant will pay the landlord’s attorney’s fees except as provided for by court rules, statute, or ordinance;

(g) agrees that either party may cancel or terminate a rental agreement at a different time or within a shorter time period than the other party, unless such provision is disclosed in a separate written notice;

(h) agrees that a tenant shall pay a charge, fee or penalty in excess of $10.00 per month for the first $500.00 in monthly rent plus 5% per month for any amount in excess of $500.00 in monthly rent for the late payment of rent; and

(i) agrees that, if a tenant pays rent before a specified date or within a specified time period in the month, the tenant shall receive a discount or reduction in the rental amount in excess of $10.00 per month for the first $500.00 in monthly rent plus 5% per month for any amount in excess of $500.00 in monthly rent.

A provision prohibited by this section included in a rental agreement is unenforceable. The tenant may recover actual damages sustained by the tenant because of the enforcement of a prohibited provision. If the landlord attempts to enforce a provision in a rental agreement prohibited by this section the tenant may recover two months rent. Prior code § 193.1-14; Added Council Journal of Proceedings, September 8, 1986, page 33771; Amend. Council Journal of Proceedings, November 6, 1991, pages 7215 — 7216)

5-12-150 Prohibition On Retaliatory Conduct By Landlord.
It is declared to be against public policy of the City of Chicago for a landlord to take retaliatory action against a tenant, except for violation of a rental agreement or violation of a law or ordinance. A landlord may not knowingly terminate a tenancy, increase rent, decrease services, bring or threaten to bring a lawsuit against a tenant for possession or refuse to renew a lease or tenancy because the tenant has in good faith:

(a) complained of code violations applicable to the premises to a competent governmental agency, elected representative or public official charged with responsibility for enforcement of a building, housing, health or similar code; or

(b) complained of a building, housing, health or similar code violation or an illegal landlord practice to a community organization or the news media; or

(c) sought the assistance of a community organization or the news media to remedy a code violation or illegal landlord practice; or

(d) requested the landlord to make repairs to the premises as required by a building code, health ordinance, other regulation, or the residential rental agreement; or

(e) becomes a member of a tenant’s union or similar organization; or

(f) testified in any court or administrative proceeding concerning the condition of the premises; or

(g) exercised any right or remedy provided by law.

If the landlord acts in violation of this section, the tenant has a defense in any retaliatory action against him for possession and is entitled to the following remedies: he shall recover possession or terminate the rental agreement and, in either case, recover an amount equal to and not more than two months rent or twice the damages sustained by him, whichever is greater, and reasonable attorney’s fees. If the rental agreement is terminated, the landlord shall return all security and interest recoverable under Section 5-12-080 and all prepaid rent. In an action by or against the tenant, if there is evidence of tenant conduct protected herein within one year prior to the alleged act of retaliation, that evidence shall create a rebuttable presumption that the landlord’s conduct was retaliatory. The presumption shall not arise if the protected tenant activity was initiated after the alleged act of retaliation.
(Prior code § 193.1-15, Added. Council Journal of Proceedings, September 8, 1986. page 33771)

5-12-160 Prohibition On Interruption Of Tenant Occupancy By Landlord.
It is unlawful for any landlord or any person acting at his direction knowingly to oust or dispossess or threaten or attempt to oust or dispossess any tenant from a dwelling unit without authority of law, by plugging, changing, adding or removing any lock or latching device; or by blocking any entrance into said unit; or by removing any door or window from said unit; or by interfering with the services to said unit; including but not limited to electricity, gas, hot or cold water, plumbing, heat or telephone service; or by removing a tenant’s personal property from said unit; or by the removal or incapacitating of appliances or fixtures, except for the purpose of making necessary repairs; or by the use or threat of force, violence or injury to a tenant̓s person or property; or by any act rendering a dwelling unit or any part thereof or any personal property located therein inaccessible or uninhabitable. The foregoing shall not apply where:

(a) a landlord acts in compliance with the laws of Illinois pertaining to forcible entry and detainer and engages the sheriff of Cook County to forcibly evict a tenant or his personal property; or

(b) a landlord acts in compliance with the laws of Illinois pertaining to distress for rent; or

(c) a landlord interferes temporarily with possession only as necessary to make needed repairs or inspection and only as provided by law; or

(d) the tenant has abandoned the dwelling unit, as defined in Section 5-12-130(e).

Whenever a complaint of violation of this provision is received by the Chicago Police Department, the department shall investigate and determine whether a violation has occurred. Any person found guilty of violating this section shall be fined not less than $200.00 nor more than $500.00, and each day that such violation shall occur or continue shall constitute a separate and distinct offense for which a fine as herein provided shall be imposed. If a tenant in a civil legal proceeding against his landlord establishes that a violation of this section has occurred he shall be entitled to recover possession of his dwelling unit or personal property and shall recover an amount equal to not more than two months rent or twice the actual damages sustained by him, whichever is greater. A tenant may pursue any civil remedy for violation of this section regardless of whether a fine has been entered against the landlord pursuant to this section. (Prior code § 193.1-16; Added, Council Journal of Proceedings,
September 8, 1986, page 33771; Amend, Council Journal of Proceedings, November 6, 1991, page 7218)

5-12-170 Summary Of Ordinance Attached To Rental Agreement.
The commissioner of the department of housing shall prepare a summary of this chapter, describing the respective rights, obligations and remedies of landlords and tenants hereunder, and shall make such summary available for public inspection and copying. The commissioner shall also, after the city comptroller has announced the rate of interest on security deposits on the first business day of the year, prepare a separate summary describing the respective rights, obligations and remedies of landlords and tenants with respect to security deposits, including the new interest rate as well as the rate for each of the prior two years. The commissioner shall also distribute the new rate of security deposit interest, as well as the rate for each of the prior two years, through public service announcements to all radio and television outlets broadcasting in the city. A copy of such summary shall be attached to each written rental agreement when any such agreement is initially offered to any tenant or prospective tenant by or on behalf of a landlord and whether such agreement is for a new rental or a renewal thereof. Where there is an oral agreement, the landlord shall give to the tenant a copy of the summary.

The summary shall include the following language:
“The porch or deck of this building should be designed for a live load of up to 100 pounds, per square foot and is safe only for its intended use. Protect your safety. Do not overload the porch or deck. If you have questions about porch or deck safety, call the City of Chicago non-emergency Number 3-1-1.”

If the landlord acts in violation of this section, the tenant may terminate the rental agreement by written notice. The written notice shall specify the date of termination no later than 30 days from the date of the written notice. If a tenant in a civil legal proceeding against his landlord establishes that a violation of this section has occurred, he shall be entitled to recover $100.00 in damages. (Prior code § 193.1-17; Added Council Journal of Proceedings, September 8, 1986, page 33771; Amend. Council Journal of Proceedings, May 14, 1997, page 45167; Amend. Council Journal of Proceedings, October 1, 2003, page 9191)

5-12-180 Attorney’s Fees.
Except in cases of forcible entry and detainer actions, the prevailing plaintiff in any action arising out of a landlord’s or tenant’s application of the rights or remedies made available in this ordinance shall be entitled to all court costs and reasonable attorney’s fees; provided, however, that nothing herein shall be deemed or interpreted as precluding the awarding of attorney’s fees in forcible entry and detainer actions in accordance with applicable law or as expressly provided in this ordinance.
(Added Council Journal of Proceedings, November 6, 1991, page 7219)

5-12-190 Rights And Remedies Under Other Laws.
To the extent that this chapter provides no right or remedy in a circumstance, the rights and remedies available to landlords and tenants under the laws of the State of Illinois or other local ordinances shall remain applicable. (Prior code § 193.1-18; Added Council Journal of Proceedings,
September 8, 1986, page 33771; Amend, Council Journal of Proceedings, November 6, 1991, page 7219)

5-12-200 Severability.
If any provision, clause, sentence, paragraph, section, or part of this chapter or application thereof to any person or circumstance, shall for any reason be adjudged by a court of competent jurisdiction to be unconstitutional or invalid, said judgment shall not affect, impair or invalidate the remainder of this chapter and the application of such provision to other persons or circumstances, but shall be confined in its operation to the provision, clause, sentence, paragraph, section, or part thereof directly involved in the controversy in which such judgment shall have been rendered and to the person and circumstances affected thereby. (Prior code § 193.1-19; Added Council Journal of Proceedings,
September 8, 1986, page 33771; Amend, Council Journal of Proceedings, November 6, 1991, page 7220)

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198 Comments »

  • Sleepless in Chicago says:

    Upon signing the lease, I did not receive the Chicago RLTO. Within the body of the lease declarations it says that I acknowledge receiving a copy of the Ordinance, but I have never received one. Can I hold this fact against my landlord? I am looking into terminating my lease before it expires.

    • I would consult with an attorney prior to terminating the lease. If you write the landlord a letter stating that you did not receive a summary and then terminate the lease and then leave. I would ask what will happen if the landlord decides to take you to court to sue you for the time the apartment is vacant. A judge is going to have to decide who to believe. If the landlord says that he or she provided the lease and you are saying that you did not and you signed something sating that you received the summary, I wonder who the judge or jury is going to believe. Maybe there are some other ways to document that you did not receive the summary. Maybe you could could get every tenant in the building to testify that the same thing happened to them.

  • Kristen says:

    Can you please offer any input/remedies for the following situation?

    We rent a SFH in Chicago. Our landlord inherited her childhood home when her mother passed away and subsequently rented it to my family. I believe her personal attachment to the home impairs her ability to carry out her landlord duties in a professional manner.

    We advised her last Friday that our bathroom drain was completely clogged and sewage was backing up into the tub. She said she would sen a plumber on Saturday, but did not. On Monday she called and said the plumber was coming and that she would go let him into the house because we were at work. To my surprise, when I returned home from work in Monday, it appeared she ha not only let in the plumber, but also let in herself. It appeared she must have spent several hours rearranging my personal belongings and cleaning my basement. On Tuesday, without our knowledge or consent, she returned to our house while we were at work and removed some shelves from our basement.

    What are our rights in a situation like this? We have suspected similar entries in the past, but could not come up with any proof.

    • The law regarding landlord entry is the landlord must notify tenants two days in advance of their intent to enter and that the tenant needs to provide the landlord with reasonable access. Here is the law.

      5-12-050 Landlord’s Right Of Access.
      A tenant shall not unreasonably withhold consent to the landlord to enter the dwelling unit:

      (a) to make necessary or agreed repairs, decorations, alterations or improvements;

      (b) to supply necessary or agreed services;

      (c) to conduct inspections authorized or required by any government agency;

      (d) to exhibit the dwelling unit to prospective or actual purchasers, mortgagees, workmen or contractors;

      (e) to exhibit the dwelling unit to prospective tenants 60 days or less prior to the expiration of the existing rental agreement;

      (f) for practical necessity where repairs or maintenance elsewhere in the building unexpectedly require such access;

      (g) to determine a tenant̓s compliance with provisions in the rental agreement; and

      (h) in case of emergency.

      The landlord shall not abuse the right of access or use it to harass the tenant Except in cases where access is authorized by subsection (f) or (h) of this section, the landlord shall give the tenant notice of the landlord’s intent to enter of no less than two days. Such notice shall be provided directly to each dwelling unit by mail, telephone, written notice to the dwelling unit, or by other reasonable means designed in good faith to provide notice to the tenant. If access is required because of repair work or common facilities or other apartments, a general notice may be given by the landlord to all potentially affected tenants that entry may be required. In cases where access is authorized by subsection (f) or (h) of this section, the landlord may enter the dwelling unit without notice or consent of the tenant. The landlord shall give the tenant notice of such entry within two days after such entry.

      The landlord may enter only at reasonable times except in case of an emergency. An entry between 8:00 A.M. and 8:00 P.M. or at any other time expressly requested by the tenant shall be presumed reasonable. (Prior code § 193.1-5; Added Council Journal of Proceedings, September 8, 1986, page 33771)

  • Jay says:

    Wondering about a landlord changing a building over from smoking to non-smoking. Can they do it if you have an active lease that allows for smoking. Can a ban be put in place at any time, or can it only be done upon lease renewal or never? Thanks!

  • Susan says:

    We live in a 3-flat building and have been there for almost 6 years. Our landlord, who doesn’t live in the building, hasn’t had us actually sign a renewal lease for the past 3 years, just usually a quick call a few months before our lease us “up” to see if we are staying. We are house-hunting and I’m curious if do to the lack of signed paperwork if we are automatically in a month-to-month situation and how to manage potentially breaking our lease a few months early if we find a house.

    • Was there any type of verbal agreement to stay for another year. If so the landlord may be able to make such an argument. You can also make an argument otherwise. If there was nothing said about renewing the agreement for another full year then you are just on a month to month agreement.

  • Steven says:

    Hi.

    I’m in a situation where my roommate and I have been threatened by our landlord to leave our apartment due to past due rent. I’ll admit we’ve been behind for quite some time now because my roommate has struggled to maintain steady employment. However, we have never been no more than a month behind. Not to mention our landlord has refuted and ignored several requests to make necessary repairs in our apartment. We are dealing with a window that has been out of frame since we’ve moved in 3 years ago I believe, a doorbell that doesn’t function, heat that does not run properly for the past 2 winters (goes on yet only occasionally emits heat. Majority, it comes on yet produces no heat and eventually cuts off after a few minutes), a nearly broken sink, short-outs in several electrical sockets, no signs of any fire extinguishers in case of fire and a basement in the building that has been flooded with sewer back up on more than 1 occasion with nails and wood all over as if there’s an incomplete construction project. Keep in mind, we’ve been dealing with these conditions almost since we moved in. Can we prevent from possibly evicting us for rent when he has failed to make decision on maintaining the apartment and most of the surrounding premises of the building? Please let me know. Thanks.

    • First it is illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant without first going to court. As for stopping an eviction due to repair issues, you will probably need the assistance of an attorney. In Chicago, judges tend to more sympathetic to landlords especially when a tenant is behind in rent. You mentioned that you have been behind in rent for a while. What has changed? It is best to document all the repair issues and to demand that the landlord make the repairs. If the landlord makes the repairs and you remain behind in your rent, the landlord will most likely be able to eviction. If you can find an attorney who will take this case, you will may be able to make the argument that you have been over paying rent for the past 3 years and that if fact the owner owes you money. You will need the assistance of an attorney to make that argument.

  • Andrea says:

    My husband and I signed a 2 year lease, and have been here for only six months when we found out we must move out of state for my husband’s work. We are in a privately owned condo, in a highrise building. Could we be stuck with the remaining 18 months rent? We have no other option than to leave, which we never thought would happen thus the two year lease.

    I also happen to know our landlord has another unit, same size and layout, for rent which has been on the market for several months, dropping in price.

    Thank you the help!

    • This is not an easy situation. You could try to sublet the unit. A landlord has to accept any reasonable sublettor. You could try and negotiate a deal with the landlord to let you out of the lease. If the landlord does not then the landlord must try re-rent the unit and you could potentially be held liable for the entire time that the unit remains vacant. My one other question is did the landlord provide you with a summary of the Chicago’s landlord and tenants ordinance. If not then the law would allow you to terminate the lease.

  • Megan says:

    H John, I’m sure you’re probably busy but I would really appreciate an answer to the question I posted on 11/9. I’ve also tried calling Tenant’s Rights and was prompted to instead send an email, which I did, but no one replied to that either. I would really like to get an answer on this. Thanks.

  • Megan says:

    My apartment building has a history of roof leaks/water damage; in fact, last spring it was raining in my living room. After several calls to the landlord, I was told they repaied the roof and that there would be no further problems. This past week I noticed that water damage has crept back into my place, this time the plaster on the ceiling and upper part of the wall are bubbling and the paint is coming off. I have no idea if there is mold (thought I would guess there is since there has been water coming in for years from what I’ve been told), but am wondering if the landlord still has to repair it if it’s just cosmetic – and how would we find out? I am planning to take pics this weekend and send to my landlord, but was just curious about my rights with respect to water in the apartment before discussing anything with them. Nothing of mine has been damaged. At this point it is simply bubbled walls and ceiling (unsightly and also annoying as I had the place professionally painted on my own dollar as well) and potentially mold, though that is just speculation. Any thoughts on this? Thanks for your help, John.

  • Holly says:

    I am a first-time landlord. I moved out of state for work and moved back to Chicago earlier than expected. I want to take back my property from my tenants of whom were in a long-term lease (18 months).

    Do I have the right to terminate lease of my tenants early? What are my rights if I want my property back?

    Do I have the ability to at the very least, terminate the lease 60-days early? For instance, if my tenants were due to vacate by May 31st, 2013 can I terminate their lease in writing now, and say that they need to be vacated by March 31st?

    What can I do? I’m confused and frustrated. Thank you.

    • I cannot answer that because I do not know if you made an addendum that allowed you to do such a thing. If not then you do not have any rights to terminate the lease early. If you want to terminate the lease early you might want to offer the tenants some compensation to move out early.

  • Gabe says:

    Hi, I just recently signed a lease to move into an apartment through an apartment rental agency. When I first sent over my application to the landlord, the cover page included a small list of things the apartment needed to be fixed, including providing a screen for a window without one, general cleaning; the extermination of insects and/or rodents if any; the replacement of a faulty/tattered bathroom mirror; the repair of an intercom/doorbell system; and the repair of the front doors’ locks. I visited the apartment today to get my keys from the landlord, and not only were none of my needs fulfilled, but I also was given the wrong keys to the unit (or the locks are so faulty that they just wouldn’t budge). I immediately called the landlord to notify him of the key/locks issues, but after several rings his phone went to voicemail.

    My lease begins tomorrow on November 1st, but I do not feel comfortable moving any of my belongings into my apartment due to the key/lock issues, let alone its general state. Can the landlord legally just disregard what I asked of him?

    What can I legally do to get him to uphold the statements I included on my initial application? And what steps can I take to ensure that he completes what I need him to do? This is my very first apartment, and I’m not sure how to proceed.

    Thank you,

    Gabe.

    • It is good that you put your requests in writing. Have you signed the lease? Here is what the law states regarding the landlord’s failure to deliver possession.

      (b) Failure To Deliver Possession. If the landlord fails to deliver possession of the dwelling unit to the tenant in compliance with the residential rental agreement or Section 5-12-070, rent for the dwelling unit shall abate until possession is delivered, and the tenant may:

      (1) upon written notice to the landlord, terminate the rental agreement and upon termination the landlord shall return all prepaid rent and security; or

      (2) demand performance of the rental agreement by the landlord and, if the tenant elects, maintain an action for possession of the dwelling unit against the landlord or any person wrongfully in possession and recover the damages sustained by him.

      It would be best to put things in writing to the landlord. If the landlord provided you with the wrong keys it is the landlord’s responsibility to fix that. I would start with the keys and demand that the landlord bring you the keys and that you will not pay rent

      • Gabe says:

        I did sign the lease, after he accepted my application ( with the cover letter wirh my list) included. Thank You for responding so quickly. I will write out my needs again and inform the landlord.

        Thanks again!

  • jen says:

    Does anyone know if a letter to terminate the lease needs a signature? Would a typed name suffice? it will be mailed correctly.

  • Eunice says:

    I’m sorry as I had just commented in “Apartment Repairs and Conditions FAQ” before realizing that this was the better forum for addressing my questions, for now.

    Seeking further clarification on
    EXCLUSION clause (a) dwelling units in owner-occupied buildings containing six units or less
    DEFINITION clause (b) “Landlord” means the …agent…

    Guessing that the property/building manager serving as an agent for the owner, is considered a “landlord” in this situation? He basically acts as the intermediary for landlord and tenants. The premise is a 6 rental unit building. Manager occupies what would be the 7th unit, which I’m not sure if that counts as a unit or not as it’s not a rental as I’m under the impression that the manager is working for landlord in exchange for the unit.

    Also how do I properly document that I was living in the unit if I’m not on a lease? Should a money order or record of personal check being cashed from my bank suffice? Which is a better form of documentation of rent being paid: money order or personal check? Would utility bills in my name to unit suffice? Should I send rent with Certificate of Mailing or with Delivery Confirmation?

    Thank you for your response and apologize if that sounds confusing because I’m just confused and just want clarity as prop manager has displayed very erratic and abusive behavior which makes me very concerned that I will be locked out of my apartment (or possibly assaulted) and want to know my rights. He made some pretty awful comments that I wish I could have recorded (does an audio recording count for anything in court?).

    Also, would emailing or the hotline be quicker? Nervous about having him trolling here but want to have situation addressed, asap.

    Thank you for any assistance.

  • deborah says:

    My landlord never told me the hows was in foreclosure prior to signing the lease. I actually had to find that out on my own 6 months later I want to terminate the lease by written letter. It says “no later than 30 days”. What does that mean do I have to stay the next month. Or can I leave in the next couple of days. He has also threatened to keep my security deposit for petty reasons. He did not tell me what account it was in. Can I include in the letter (if I must stay another month) that the security deposit be used as rent?

    • The law states the tenant can terminate the lease by giving the owner notice and leaving within 30 days. You would be able to leave in less than 30 days. You will be responsible for paying rent for the time that you are there. If you you are going to be out in 3 days then give the landlord a 3 day notice. Make sure that you give the landlord sufficient time for you to get all your property out. If you give the landlord 3 days and it takes 5 for you to move out it could nullify your notice. The deposit issue is separate.

      • deborah says:

        thanks John. also I’m almost sure that he didn’t give me a summary of the RLTO. should i include that or will I be safer just using the foreclosure complaint

        • I am not an attorney so do not want to give advice as to what is safer. The Chicago Landlord and Tenant Ordinance allows tenants to terminate the lease if the landlord fails to inform the tenant that the building is in foreclosure and it also allow the tenant to terminate the lease because the landlord failed to provide the tenant with a summary of the ordinance.

      • deborah says:

        also if someones name is also on the lease do they have to sign the letter as well. they moved out after one month, but ive been paying rent alone since then.

        • It would be best. There is a possibility that if you do not pay rent then the landlord could go after the other person on the lease to demand payment. Also there is a chance that the other person could try and say that he or she lives there and wants back in. It is always best to have changes to the lease put into writing. Then there is always the question to what if the landlord does not agree to the change because all parties to a contract need to agree to the change.

  • Felicia says:

    Myself and another individual have been living in an apartment on the North Side of Chicago since the end of August. We need to break the lease due to several issues:
    1. My roommate has lost her job
    2. I am unable to find a job with my degree in the area
    3. I have fallen ill. I was just in the hospital for 5 days.
    4. Since we moved in, we have struggled to pay the rent and have been late in paying every single time.
    5. I am moving back to my parents due to being ill and not having the money to continue to pay for rent. I am even quitting grad school due to being ill.
    6. The crime rate has increased. There are gang-related shootings right near our apartment at least once a month. We are afraid to come out of our apartment after dusk.
    7. Our apartment smells terribly from what we believe is one of our neighbors. Also, we have found some cockroaches in our apartment. Not enough to suggest they are from us.
    8. Our back door to our building was kicked in completely and was not fixed for at least 2-3 days.
    9. There have been other maintenance issues that we have asked the maintenance guy to take care of but he just ignores it.
    -These are just some of the reasons why we are wanting to break the lease. We did seek out free legal advice from someone, but we were unsure of what they were saying. I believe he had said that if we had not received a copy of the Chicago RLTO, that it was ground for lease termination.
    Can you please help us out? We need to leave the apartment, but we do not know what to do. Rent is due by November 5. We cannot afford rent this month. If we do not pay and we get the 5 day notice, should we just leave then and let the landlord terminate the lease? We are so confused.
    Thank you.

    • Most of the issues you raised are not sufficient to terminate the lease legally. The law states if the landlord does not provide a tenant with a summary of the ordinance then the ordinance allows you to terminate the lease and you have to be out of the premises within 30 days from the notice.

  • Hugo says:

    My son lives on a month to month oral lease in a Chicago rental apartment in a building otherwise occupied by the owner and his extended family. He is current on his rent. After timely paying the October rent to the old owner told my son on October 1 the building had been sold and he would have to vacate at the end of the month. He got a phone call October 12 from the new owner who wants him out at the end of October so he can start making major changes. Does my son have to vacate on such short notice?

  • Jessica says:

    This is semi-complicated:

    The building I live in has a duel door system. The outside door (which was UNLOCKED) opened to a little entryway where the mailboxes are. Then there is a second LOCKED door that lets u into the rest of the units.

    Due to homeless people peeing and smoking drugs in the entryway, the management company has put a lock on the outside door. We now has lost access to our buzzer, which is on the inside, next to the mailboxes.

    We also have not been able to receive mail bs the Post Office does not have a key. Guests have no way of buzzing our units. We cannot receive packages from UPS.

    I have called the management co. that told me they are going to get the Post Office a key, we just have to wait. They said we are kinda s.o.l. about the buzzer bc the owner of the building doesn’t want to pay to have it moved to the outside.

    What can I do? I have called 311 and they are sending inspectors. I’m not sure what they can inspect when they can’t really get into the building unless they have someone’s number. Is it against any codes not to have an accessible buzzer so units inside the building can receive guests or packages?

    Thanks for your time :)

  • Adam says:

    I moved out of a house at the end of August and was told over the phone by my landlady that there was mold damage beneath the kitchen sink and that she would be deducting money from my security deposit, claiming negligence on the part of me and my two roommates.

    She has not provided me with any written documentation like receipts for repair work (nor has she sent me my deposit yet) and since it has been more than 30 days since I have moved out, am I entitled to my entire deposit, regardless of whether or not I and my roommates can be deemed responsible for the damage?

    • There are several issues here. It is impossible to provide you with good information without knowing if the landlord lives on the premises. Another question I would have is about the mold damage and how did it occur and were you aware of the problem. For instance if the problem is the result of a leak in the pipes or sweating pipes you may not be liable for the damage if you did not know about it or if your reported the leak to the landlord.

      If the landlord does live on the site then the landlord must provide you with documentation about any costs. If the landlord did not do this then it is a violation of the law. The landlord could be liable for not only the deposit but damages equal to twice the deposit plus attorney fees. You might want to send the landlord a letter stating what the law is and you would prefer to settle this out of court.

  • Shannon says:

    I am three months behind in rent, due to financial troubles. On October 4, my landlady confiscated my possessions and left a note (which I have kept). She has since returned 98% of my possessions (after being reminded that this move was illegal, and possibly constituted larceny under Illinois and Chicago law), but today changed the locks to the apartment.

    Thanks to my roommates, I was able to gain entry into the apartment. However, I won’t be able to go to work tomorrow until she gives me a new key. I know that the landlady changing the locks is illegal under Chicago and Illinois law, so what are my next steps? I have received no tenancy termination notice, nor eviction court papers. I have no written lease either (month-to-month situation).

    • Can you make a copy of the key? A letter to the landlord might help. The letter could go over what has happened and that it is illegal to lock any person out of their unit without going to court. You can call the police if she does this again. Does she live on the premises?

  • infini sanner says:

    Does the tenant have a right to a key to all locks on the property that allow for access to the apartment, front and back doors? Also there is a lock on the gate leading to the garbage dumpster in the alley that we have not been provided a key to, should we have been provided a key? Also our fuse box is in the basement and we have not been given access to this either and our power has gone out twice already in a month, shouldn’t we have access to this as well? What is my course of action that I can take?

    • The tenant needs to have keys that allow access to their unit. For instance if there is a front door that you have to pass through in order to get to the unit then the landlord will be required to provide a key. If you live on the first floor and there is a lock to the second floor, then the landlord may not be required to provide a key.

      As for garbage, the law states that the landlord is responsible for ensuring that garbage and trash do not build up. I do not know how you can dispose of trash if you do not have a key. Is there a place to leave trash? What has the landlord told you to do regarding the trash?

      As for access to the fuse box, how large is this building and is there an onsite manager. If there is an on site manager the owner may not have to provide a key. If there is not onsite manager and the owner cannot provide reasonably immediate access then the landlord will have to provide key or at least access to your fuse box.

      If there are violations of the law, it may be best to call 311 and request an request an inspection. You can also write a letter to the owner stating the violation and requesting that the landlord resolve the issue within 14 days.

  • Josh says:

    I recently re-signed a lease at a high rise in downtwon Chicago. Prior to the new lease, my old lease billed utilities by apartment usage i.e. you pay for what you use.

    On the new lease, it was explained that the utilities provided by the building would now be billed, not by usage, but by sq. footage of the apartment i.e. the total usage of the building is allocated to tenants based on the size of their apartment.

    Obviously, this was of a concern to me. However, the office manager assured me that any increase in my monthly utility bill would not be significant. Unfortunately, this turned out to be completely not true. From the last month on the old lease (June) to the first month on the new lease (July), I saw a 250% increase in my utility bill. When I confronted the office manager about this ridiculous increase in the utility bill, he openly admitted that he didn’t have the full information of what the increases would be and therefore didn’t know the increase would be that much, but he didn’t know if there was anything he could do about it now.

    I beleive this practice by the apartmet’s management company is abusive, and potentially fraudulent. What recourse do I have as a renter in Chicago?

    Thanks for your help!

    • Did other tenants receive equally high bills. One place to start is ask your neighbors if they are upset by this large jump in costs. If they are you should consider forming a tenants association in order to negotiate with the landlord. Secondly, I would begin by demanding to see how the bill was calculated. I would also see how the landlord calculated common space costs which should be the landlord’s responsibility to pay.

  • Kelly says:

    Hello,

    My fiance and I are in the middle of a year lease and are looking at our options to break our lease for a number of reasons with lack of management staff failing to fix our lack of drawers in the kitchen, to a unlockable patio door and water damage caused by a flood in the unit above ours in the master bath. We have their promises to fix these things in emails. Emails dating back to July 2011 when we first moved in for a number of other items, and re signed our lease with them following their promise to fix hese three remaining items. Do we have any ground to break our lease without being penalized? Our lease is pretty vauge on this topic. We live in a high rise condo building that is about 50/50 renters vs owners, our landlord does not live in the building.

    Please advise.
    Thanks!

    • The law states if the condition makes the unit not reasonably fit and habitable a tenant may terminate the lease after giving the landlord a 14 day written demand letter to fix the problem. These situations sound fairly serious so you may have grounds to terminate the lease. In the end it is up to a jury or a judge to decide whether the problems are serious enough. It would be better if the Chicago law was more clear in this regards. As for the flood, I do not know when that happen nor how serious it was but the law around flooding is as follows:

      (g) Fire Or Casualty Damage. If the dwelling unit or common area is damaged or destroyed by fire or casualty to an extent that the dwelling unit is in material noncompliance with the rental agreement or with Section 5-12-070, the tenant may:

      (1) immediately vacate the premises and notify the landlord in writing within 14 days thereafter of the tenant’s intention to terminate the rental agreement, in which case the rental agreement terminates as of the date of the fire or casualty; or

      (2) if continued occupancy is lawful, vacate any part of the dwelling unit rendered unusable by the fire or casualty, in which case the tenant’s liability for rent is reduced in proportion to the reduction in the fair rental value of the dwelling unit; or

      (3) if the tenant desires to continue the tenancy, and if the landlord has promised or begun work to repair the damage or destruction but fails to carry out the work to restore the dwelling unit or common area diligently and within a reasonable time, notify the landlord in writing within 14 days after the tenant becomes aware that the work is not being carried out diligently or within a reasonable time of the tenant’s intention to terminate the rental agreement, m which case the rental agreement terminates as of the date of the fire or casualty.

      If the rental agreement is terminated under this subsection (g), the landlord shall return all security and all prepaid rent in accordance with Section 5-12-080(d).

  • Patrick says:

    John,

    My landlord was avoiding fixing the dryer for a couple months, I reached out to a contractor. They came and informed me that they would not fix anything at the moment because the gas lines and piping were not up to code. Apparently it is illegal because they are not attached to the wall and there is no shut-off valve. I emailed my landlord the information and nothing has been done for a couple of months. Do I have grounds to terminate my lease?

    Thanks in advance.

    • The law states if the condition makes the unit not reasonably fit and habitable a tenant may terminate the lease after giving the landlord a 14 day written demand letter to fix the problem. I am not sure than not having a dryer makes the unit not reasonably fit and habitable. If the piping was an immediate danger then yes. If you want to go ahead with terminating the lease, it would be advisable to consult an attorney before proceeding.

  • fran says:

    John,
    How many people can occupy a 1400 sq.fr. 2br/2bth apt.

    Thanks

  • Amy says:

    My daughter moved into an apartment in June, which I co-signed for. Right away she called stating she had cockroaches. We sent in a letter (by fax as they don’t have email) and asked to have them taken care of. The building manager was quite rude to my daughter about the bugs, blaming her for them. Shortly thereafter, her apartment was broken into and some of her property was stolen. By mid August she decided she wanted to break her lease and move out, as the bugs were still a problem and she felt very unsafe. There is a clause in the lease where she can pay a small free, find an approved renter and move on without further responsibility. Things were going well, she’s got two separate ladies interested in taking the apartment. The problem is, one of her neighbors was recently beaten and raped in her building. What does she do? We feel like we have a responsibility to share this information, knowing that by doing so it’s very likely the ladies will each decline the apartment. Is there any legal way she can get out of the lease without being involved in re-renting it? It seems unreasonable that she should be responsible for renting an apartment that is so unsafe. I live out of state and she’s not familiar with the laws in Chicago or Illinois, so any advice you could give us is appreciated.

    • Several issues arise: As for terminating the lease because of roaches. The law is unclear. The Chicago Ordinance states: a tenant can terminate the lease if the unit is not reasonably fit and habitable after providing the landlord with a 14 day written notice and the landlord not taking any action in that time. Whether roaches alone make a unit not reasonably fit and habitable is something that you should contact an attorney about.

      As for living in a high crime area, in general that is not the landlord’s responsibility and for the most part not something that a tenant will be able to terminate the lease on. The landlord is responsible with providing dead bolts on doors and window locks.

      My other question is did the landlord provide your daughter with summary of the Chicago Rental Ordinance. If not your daughter could terminate the lease because of that.

      • Amy says:

        Hi John,

        Thank you for the reply. Yes, they did provide her with the ordinance. They sent out an pest guy within a few days of my letter, though it was only once, and the bugs remain a problem. We have continued to notify them (in writing) that the bugs are still there.

        Any assistance with information or direction would be appreciated.

        Thank you

        • You can send another 14 day demand letter. If the landlord does not do something then your daughter can take some action. As for the pest, you may want to look into Integrated Pest Management techniques. It involves sealing the holes that the roaches enter through and getting rid of water and food sources. Megan Bourneman (meg@tenants-rights.org) on our staff is very knowledgeable and can help you with that.

  • Mark Grabowsky says:

    I am a landlord and my tenants flooded the toilet with toilet paper. WHen the problem arose, they asked me if I wanted ot fix it or I can hire a plumber. I responded that they can fix it or I can get a plumber and add it to their rent. They didn’t notify me and got a plumber from Grayslake (don’t know why a plumber an hour away) and when rent was due they just took it out. The toilet was clogged Labor day weekend and they fixed it 2 days later. Who is responsible for this? They think I am supposed to fix the toilet. The toilet never had problems when I lived their for 12 years. The toilet is also on the third floor. Thank you for helping me.

    • Items do break down and if the break down is due to normal wear and tear then it is the landlord’s responsibility to fix it. If the tenants were negligent then it is the tenants responsibility. The plumber would be in the best position to determine that. Lastly in repair and deduct situations the tenant needs to find a reasonably priced plumber. If the person charged an excessive amount the tenants could be held liable for the additional cost.

  • Emily says:

    Hi,

    I moved in with a roommate but I am not on the lease. After I decided to move out, my roommate asked for a 30 day notice. I gave him a 30 day notice and now he is asking for more money. I started the 30 day notice the date of the notice, because he did not give me a copy of the chicago RTLO. So I paid 15 days in Sept because the notice started on 8/15(August was already paid for). Now, my roommate has illegally evicted me by changing the locks. My items are still in the house and I already paid for sept. What all can I sue for? Can I also sue for emotional distress? Also, can I sue even if his landlord did not allow him to become a “sublandlord”?

    • Can you document that you were living in the unit. If so you can contact the police. When you contact the police, describe the situation as a lockout. The police are suppose to tell your roommate to let you in.

      You can sue the roommate for locking you out. You should document the situation. The penalties for a lockout are . If a tenant in a civil legal proceeding against his landlord establishes that a violation of this section has occurred he shall be entitled to recover possession of his dwelling unit or personal property and shall recover an amount equal to not more than two months rent or twice the actual damages sustained by him, whichever is greater. A tenant may pursue any civil remedy for violation of this section regardless of whether a fine has been entered against the landlord pursuant to this section.

  • Mark says:

    Hi,
    I am a landlord of a 3 unit apartment bldg and was wondering,
    1. Do I need to post any kind of sign on the exterior of my building with Phone Numbers on it? I run it myself and do not have a management company.
    2. Where can I get the “Summary Of Ordinance” to attach to the leases?
    3. I read above where the RLTO does not govern buildings under 6 units? Am I reading that correctly? and if so are there other ordinances that govern those types of rentals.
    Thanks Mark

    • In answers to your question:

      1. You do need to provide in writing your name, address and phone number. It can be posted or you can give each tenant the information in writing perhaps attached to the lease.

      2. You can get a summary of the ordinance from city hall

      3. The ordinance covers all rental units except owner occupied units of 6 units or less.

  • Deanna says:

    HELLO JOHN,

    I HAVE A FEW PROBLEMS GOING ON,FIRST I WAS IN A SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP WITH MY LANDLORD A FEW MONTHS AFTER I MOVED INTO MY APARTMENT, THINGS WERE GOING WELL BUT I COULD’NT DEAL WITH HIS PERSONALITY ANYMORE. THE RENT WAS STILL BEING PAID AT THIS TIME. A FEW MONTHS LATER I BECAME VERY ILL AND I FELL INTO A SITUATION WHERE I BECAME BEHIND ON THE RENT. NOW I HAVE A PROBLEM WITH HIM JUST ENTERING THE APARTMENT ANYTIME HE WANTS TO ALL THE WHILE STATING THAT THE SHERIFF IS COMING TO EVICT ME. I HAVE NOT RECEIVED ANY NOTICES FROM EITHER THE LANDLORD OR THE COOK COUNTY SHERIFF. MY LEASE JUST EXPIRED 3 DAYS AGO AND I AM PLANNING ON MOVING OUT OF THE APARTMENT WITHIN 2 WEEKS. WHAT IF ANYTHING CAN BE DONE ABOUT THIS SITUATION.

    THANKS FOR REPLYING.

    • He must take you to court first before the sheriff will come. You could try and call the police if he enters and does not leave. If the police have to get involved you may be able to get some sort of restraining order. Have there been any threats of violence? If so I think you should get some assistance and may want to involve the police.

      • DEANNA says:

        IN RESPONSE TO YOUR RESPONSE, HE DID THREATEN ME ONCE, BUT MAINLY HE HAS MY CHILDREN TO THE POINT WHERE THEY FEEL THEY CANNOT BE LEFT ALONE IN THE APARTMENT BECAUSE TO THEM IT SEEMS AS IF HE WILL COME BACK AND START TO CURSE AND YELL AT THEM, AND MY CHILDREN ARE TEENAGERS! I HAVE POSTED A LETTER ON THE OUTSIDE OF MY DOOR THAT STATES HE WAS VIOLATING MY RIGHTS BY NOT LEAVING NOTICE. AND I HAVE CALLED TO POLICE WHO INFORMED ME THAT I SHOULD CALL TENANTS RIGHTS, I HAVE DONE THIS ALSO, WITH NO RELIEF. I DONT KNOW WHAT ELSE TO DO ABOUT THIS SITUATION.

        • If the landlord continues to enter your unit, instruct your children to ask him to leave and if he does not have them call the police. The landlord does not have a right to enter your unit and the police can arrest the landlord for trespassing.

          Another option is to call an attorney and see if you can file a lawsuit against the landlord. If the landlord has violated the law, the landlord can be held liable for one months rent for each violation plus attorney fees. If you chose this path you should begin documenting the situation by sending the landlord a letter every time he or she illegally enters your unit without permission. You should keep a copy of every letter.

  • Joanna says:

    Hi,
    I’ve contacted my landlord by phone on August 18th, letting him know that we will be leaving the residence in the last days of September, so that it will be vacant by October 1st. I had asked him if he wants me to pay rent for the last month, or should me and my husband just live there the last month without paying, thus making our deposit our last month’s payment. He said that we should not pay him, and that he is fine with us using the deposit as last month’s rent. I viewed is as a verbal agreement and continued on with life as usual. Today, on September 2nd he called me saying that he changed his mind, and he needs money for bills, which sounds like a badly made up-story since he never cashed our checks until about the 20th of each month, even though we paid on the 1st. So he says he wants us to pay the rent, while we already managed our money in a way, which would enable us to make our cross-country move more comfortable.
    We signed a 12 month lease on this apartment in June 2008, and the lease did say that the deposit cannot be used as last month’s rent. I even asked about this specifically when I asked him if we should pay him, and he said that it is fine, and we don’t have to. When I told him that I do not have the money to pay him anymore, because we used it all on the planned move and we would have just not made some financial decisions and paid him if he only wanted us to do so in the first place, he changed his story and started yelling at me that “what if we leave the apartment a f******* s***hole” and kept on swearing and saying that if we do something he will find us wherever we go and hire lawyers, etc. I have not said one bad word or raised my voice a single time to deserve to be yelled at in expletives. The apartment has only minor wear an tear, which for over four years of us living there is really minimal. He also visited the apartment in March the last time and did not note any trangressions on our behalf. We have always paid rent on time, never had noise complaints or smoked in the apartment, which all the other tenants did despite there being a clause about it in the lease.
    If I had known that this would happen, I would have gladly paid and then waited for him to just mail me the deposit back after I left. But now it’s too late and I don’t have the money to pay because I used it on the impending move, in ways in which I would not have used it had he told me to pay for the last month. I am now a nervous wreck, because in a few days we are leaving for four days to the city we are about to move to, to make some final arrangements there. I am afraid that he will change the locks or do something to prevent us from coming back to the apartment. Please tell me how can I deal with this situation. Any useful tips would be greatly appreciated.

    • Joanna says:

      Eta: I looked at the lease and it does not say anyhing about not using the deposit as last month’s payment. This must have been something we discussed four years ago, when we were moving in. I have a feeling that he knows I’ll be halfway across the country and will have no means of getting my deposit back if he fails to return it to me in the allotted time.

      • The law is that unless you it states in the lease otherwise then you have to pay the rent and then wait for the return of the security deposit. You might try to get the landlord to come and do an inspection of the unit prior to moving so that the landlord can see that the place is in good shape. If you do not pay the rent then the landlord can start the eviction process by giving you a 5 day notice to pay or vacate. If you do not pay then the landlord will have to take you to court.

    • It is illegal for the landlord to change the locks. Even if you had not paid rent for months the landlord still has to go to court to evict you.

      As for you concern that the landlord will lock you out, it might be a good idea if you have a friend to ask them to house sit. I would of course warn them about the landlord. You might want to write a letter stating that he or she will be house sitting for you during your stay away. You could try to alert the police about your concern.

  • Megan says:

    Hi there, quick and easy (hopefully) question for you: does a landlord have to use skilled/licensed workers to do repairs around the building? I am asking because mine has hired a guy who is unable to fix anything at all (LL is aware, but refuses to get anyone else), which results in multitudes of calls for repair since nothing ever gets resolved, having the maintenance guy in and out of my apartment constantly (leaving a trail of disaster in his wake – seriously, the guy is covered in grease and leaves messes everywhere), and causing potentially unsafe conditions. Just a couple of months ago, this maintenance guy came to replace an outlet in my unit after I reported sparks shooting out of it when I attempted to plug in my TV. After he “fixed” the outlet and I tried to plug the TV in again, the whole TV and cable box/Tivo unit blew up and were destroyed (they replaced them, but that’s not the issue here…). I then insisted on a licensed electrician coming out and when he did, he reported that all of the wiring in my unit was done incorrectly and he was “surprised the building didn’t burn down” (it still could as the guy with no skills did the wiring in other units!). The maintenance guy also does not know how to repair the dryer vent, which is just blowing exhaust into the basement (fire hazard!) and opted to try and hold the exhaust in place with an old toaster and two buckets of rock salt versus buying a $5 metal collar for it at the hardwarde store. That kind of thing. I believe I read something in the RLTO that said if I have repairs done due to inaction by the LL, I have to use capable workers, or something along those lines. Does a LL have the same responsibility to use professionals versus employing some bozo to come over and experiment with how to fix things on the cheap? Please advise! Thanks!

    • There is no requirement that the landlord employ professionals to take care of repair problems. Though if the landlord is doing any type of major work in the building, the landlord would be required to have a permit. If a permit is required which may be the case for certain electrical repairs, then the city will inspect and may require the work to be done by a professional. I would call the building department up to find out when a professional is required.

  • Sarah says:

    Can you please help me to define what is considered normal wear and tear? Scratches in wood flooring? Nail holes? Does it make a difference how long you live somewhere? Ie 2 years. Can the landlord withhold all or part of a deposit if they do not actually do any repairs before the next tenants move in?

    • The landlord needs to provide you with receipts for any work done and yes the landlord has to perform the work in order to charge you. There is no definition of normal wear and tear as far as I know. In some cases it will be dependent on how how long you resided in the unit. Small nail holes can be considered normal wear, while large holes and lots of small holes may not. Scratches may depend on how big and how deep the scratches are etc.

  • Juan says:

    Hello John;

    I’m living in a “commercial, mixed unit building with apartments and a storefront.” (that is how is recorded with the Cook Count), there is a restaurant on the first floor and an apartment on the second floor that I rent. The building was in foreclosure last week and now the bank owns the building. The old owner is no longer in the picture.

    1) Do I fall in to the “Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance”? Not sure if it has a commercial lable will not be included in it.

    2) Is my contract still valid now with the new owner (the bank)?

    3) Under the section 5-12-080(e), is the successor landlord or “The Bank”, is responsible for my security deposit, interest, etc.?

    The old landlord notified me as stipulated by the law of the foreclosure. I have a quite large security deposit (other time for this story) and I’m worried that the bank will not honor the contract and I will not get the deposit because it might be categorized as a commercial building.

    Thank you

    • What type of lease do you have? If it says residential lease on it then you are in residential lease. Does the lease indicate that you will be living there? There are many buildings that mix commercial with residential. Even if the lease is not residential it may still be possible to assert that it is a residential lease covered by the RLTO. Did the owner attach a summary of the ordinance?

      Yes your contract is now with the bank. I would contact the bank and inform them of your situation and the large security deposit that you have with the lease and that the bank is now responsible for. If the bank disagrees or tries to evict you then engaging an attorney would be in your best interest. Who knows the bank may agree with you.

  • Noah says:

    Hi, John. I just moved to Chicago from New York. I came and signed a lease here back in June on an apartment that still had the last tenants, in a building that is not landlord-occupied. I arrived in Chicago last week to move in to find the place in deplorable condition. My first attempt to complain was met with the landlord inviting me to move out if I did not like it. I called the MTO hotline and learned a great deal about my rights under Chicago law from a very patient staff member(and I am very grateful for her help). I documented the problems that can be captured with photographs and I sent a certified 14-day letter to my landlord last week with a three-page list of grievances, which included a clogged bathroom sink, several windows that do not fully shut and outside doors which are damaged sufficiently that they cannot be securely locked and are not weather-sealed from an uninsulated common area (a semi enclosed porch). I am confident that I am on firm ground demanding these things be repaired. I have a few further questions which I deal not so much with ‘essential’s but nonetheless have become housing issues for me:

    1. The landlord agreed, via email, to repaint the apartment before I moved in (many walls were dark red). The paint job was extremely sloppy, leaving patches of the prior color here and there, with the crimson bleeding through the new cream color. Only the crimson surfaces got any attention, however: The remaining walls were filthy and were not repainted. Further, the prior tenants were big fans of wall-mounted things and window treatments, and left many many anchor holes everywhere, especially around windows which were just painted over but remain open holes. Do I have grounds to insist that the paint job be completed/competently repaired and the holes filled?

    2. I agreed to pay for my own heat and A/C. I have discovered that one of the vents connected to my apartment cools and (presumably) heats a common stairwell. Can I insist this be plugged or some portion of my utility bill be recovered? FYI the building has three rental units and only three electrical meters, suggesting that all common-area and external lights are also paid for by residents.

    3. The apartment has a gas fireplace I was verbally told worked, but I do not know if it works because it requires a tool to be operated, and this was not provided. Similarly, the refrigerator has an ice maker but, I discovered, it is not actually hooked up to a water line, and neither is the sink sprayer. It was never disclosed to me that these were non-functioning or that I would be denied their use, and they helped sway me to choose this apartment. Can insist they be made useable?

    4. The street door used by all of the tenants does not automatically lock behind them, which would be fine, except that one of the tenants is careless. Is there any requirement that rental dwellings be equipped to lock in certain ways (In NYC it is vastly the case that apartment doors lock behind you automatically).

    Thanks!

    • In answer to question number 1, technically the landlord does not have to repaint in between tenants. It is not a code violation if it was done in a sloppy manner. Did the landlord hire someone to do it? If so the landlord could make the person return and do a better job. As for the holes, the answer is the same.

      In answer to question 2, the landlord should be paying for the utilities to the common area. You may want to start with a letter to the owner stating that you only agreed to pay for the utilities for your unit and that you did not agree to pay for the cooling of the common area. Do you have access to your circuit breaker box. If so you might want to check to see if the hall lights are hooked up to your box. You could do that by turning all the circuits to off and see if the lights in the hall remain on.

      In regards to question 3, these are not items covered under the building code. If the landlord said they worked then the landlord should be responsible for maintaining them in working order. The problem that you may run into is documenting what the owner said was a part of the agreement.

      Question 4: The door needs to be self-closing and self locking. This is a code violation.

  • M says:

    Hello,

    I live in Chicago and have been renting an apartment for 2 years, under the standard chicago apartment lease from landlord who lives offsite. I have a question about what I am responsible for doing before I leave to get my deposit back.

    We have several small nail holes from hanging frames and such, do we need to fix those?

    We hung our TV from the wall in the living room and the removal left some rather large blemishes. Are we responsible for fixing these or do they fall under the “wear and tear” and thus he would have to paint them anyway? If they are our responsibility, are we allowed to repaint the wall so they don’t show (it is already a different color from every other wall in the house, so it would be easy to paint and make it look nice and not obviously repaired)?

    Lastly: my two roommates moved out early, but still paid for this last full month, and my landlord came in and started working on their rooms (painting, maintenance, etc) before I gave him permission. He had permission to enter the house to fix a leak in the kitchen, but we were not done cleaning the bedrooms before he started work without my specific permission for that. Can he charge us for the damages to the bedrooms considering he didn’t give us a chance to clean them up first (I still live in the apartment until 8/1)?

    • Small holes for hanging pictures are normal wear and tear. The larger holes may depend on whether the landlord said it was okay to do that. There is no rule that a landlord has to paint in between tenancies.

      I would send the landlord a written notice stating you only gave him permission to enter to fix the sink No one gave permission to enter any of the bedrooms to clean up. This is a violation of the landlord tenant act and you are not responsible for any work .

  • maria rodriguez says:

    what can I do about the noise coming from the upstairs nieghbors ? I expressed it my landlord but she told me to take care of it myself…there is 2 families (5 adults & 5 kids) living in a 2 converted into a 3 bedroom….I believe there is some law against too many people living in one apartment…HELP

  • Roger says:

    Hi John,

    Our new management company (our eight unit bldg was sold recently to an investment group) asked if we’d be willing to vacate our unit a month early of the lease expiration, which is end of October. They offered to pay us $500 to do so. I told them I would only accept $1000 to cover the cost of having to move earlier than expected. He then told me that if the owners say no to the $1000 and I refused any less and continued to stay, that there would be disruptions to our water and electricity during that last month as they will be rehabbing all of the units. I believe it was a passive aggressive statement; can they legally do that? I know it’s tough to prove that this could be harassment and pressure to have us leave earlier. Thanks for any insight.

    Roger

    • You could try suing the landlord in court. Are other tenants willing to stay and pressure the owner to pay more. There is always the power of numbers. If so the landlord may just opt to wait until the lease ends to ask you to move. I might start with a letter arguing that the repairs are not needed or necessary and therefore the owner should wait until everyone has moved out to begin serious repairs that will impact other units.

  • Jessica says:

    Does a landlord have to provide a stove and a refrigerator or is that my responsibility? I am about to movew in to my apartment but it has none of the above and I thought I had to purchase that but I was recently told that is his responsibility.

  • Carol says:

    Hi,

    I am wanting to terminate my lease early but my standard Chicago apartment lease contains no provision for this. Am I right in thinking I can give 60 days written notice to terminate my lease? Information booklets I have read said yes, but I can’t find this in any legislation or ordinance.

    Thanks in advance.

    • ltargos says:

      Does the landlord live in the building? If no, you are covered under the RLTO. If yes, your building must have over 6 units to be covered under the RLTO.

      If you want to terminate your lease you have a few options.
      1. Find a tenant who will sublet the unit from you. They would take over the remainder of your lease but you will be liable to pay rent if this tenant does not pay.
      2. You can break your lease but you may be subject to a termination fee by the landlord. If your lease doesn’t detail early termination, you may also be liable to continue to pay the rent until the landlord finds another tenant. You can assist the landlord to find a new tenant. It is the landlord’s responsibility to get a new tenant, but since you are liable for rent until a new tenant takes over, it is in your interest to help speed the process along.

      There are also some other options depending on whether or not you are covered by the RLTO. Are you?

      • Karyn says:

        In reference to “building must have over 6 units”, is it the building must contain over 6 units. Or there must be 6 rented units in the building? We own a condo in an 8 unit building and I am trying to figure out if this covers us? We had rented our condo, but only 2 units total in the building are rented. The rest are owner occupied.

        • There are two parts to the question. The first if the building or property has more than 6 units then the ordinance is in effect. Secondly the owner occupied refers to the owner of the unit being rented and not whether some of the units in the building are owner occupied. So if the condo building is 4 units and the owner of the unit in question does not live on the property then then the unit is covered even if the other 3 units are owner occupied. The owner of the property must live on site.

  • Joe says:

    I am curious if there is any stipulation on how much our rent can be increased. I have lived in the same apartment for almost 6 years now and our rent has had slight increases. I just got my notification to renew my lease and it is being increased by $835 a month. This building is switching management companies and will now be managed by Chicago Apartment Finders. As far as I know at least 4 other units in my building have had these large increases. It is a 3 bedroom, 1 bath unit but extremely dated, the floors aren’t even, window AC, gas heat and mix of carpet/wood/linoleum. I currently pay $1265 and if I renew my new rate will be $2100.

    • Unfortunately, there is no rent control anywhere in the State of Illinois. The legislature in the 1990s passed a law banning any type of rent control. You might want to contact you state senator and state representative and let them know how big of a rent increase that you received.

      In the mean time you might want to start negotiating with the landlord. If the landlord the landlord is asking too much then it may be in the landlord’s best interest to keep you as a renter, especially if you are a good tenant. Good tenants are valuable to landlords. It cost money to re-rent a unit.

  • Amy says:

    Hi,

    I’m moving soon and want to know the legality of “move-in fees”. My new landlord is not charging me a security deposit but instead a non-refundable move-in fee. Is there any limit to how large this fee is? For context, my rent will be $600 per month and the move in fee is $300, which I think is a bit excessive.

    Thank you for your assistance.

  • chanell says:

    Hey im chanel .. my problem is me n my bf are livin 2gether we recently got in2 a fight n now he wants out of the lease n he is the head of the house but im on the lease 2 soo if he moves n wants out how long do i have 2 stay or do i really have 2 leave wat can i do 2 makw it work out in my favor bcuz i dnt wanna move right now…

    • If you can pay the rent then you can continue to live there. You may want to get you boyfriend taken off the lease. If you cannot pay the rent, the landlord will still have to evict you. The process is the landlord is to give you a 5 day pay or vacate notice. If you do not pay then the landlord can start court proceedings.

  • Elizabeth says:

    Hello,

    I am currently renting an apartment which has one ac window unit. I just moved in a few months ago and a disovered that although the ac unit does work , it does not properly cool the apartment and on very hot days, the temp in the apartment is 83 degrees. The maintenance man came and looked at the ac and said that it was working but the only way that the apartment would be cooled properly was to have a second window ac unit added. I checked my lease and it states that the landlord does have to maintain the unit and make sure that it is working properly. The landlord is refusing to add another ac unit. Do I have any legal rights to tell my landlord that he needs to put in another unit?

    Thank you

    • You raise a good question that I do not know the answer to. Chicago does not have a maximum heat law (ie the landlord nor is there a law that even requires a landlord to provide air-conditioning.

      Though if a landlord does provide air-conditioning then the landlord is required to maintain the unit in good working order.

      The question that you raise is if the landlord has provided an air-conditioner and air-conditioner is working but is not of sufficient size to cool the unit then is the landlord required to provide you with an air-conditioner that is large enough to cool the apartment and to what temperature.

      Some of the answer to the question, may lie in how the landlord presented the unit. Did the landlord state that it was air-conditioned?

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