Chicago Building Code RE: Pests

Last updated: January 4, 2010 – 12:51 PM


13-196-630  Residential buildings – Responsibilities of owner or operator.

Every owner or operator must:

(a)     Comply with the requirements imposed on him by this chapter;

(b)     Maintain in a clean, sanitary and safe condition the shared or public areas of the dwelling or premises, and maintain and repair any equipment of a type specified in this Code which he supplies or is required to supply;

(c)     Exterminate any insects, rodents or other pests in any family unit, if infestation is caused by the failure of the owner or operator to maintain the dwelling in a ratproof or reasonable insect-proof condition, and he must exterminate such pests in any family unit in the dwelling, regardless of the cause of infestation, if infestation exists in two or more of the family units in the dwelling or in the shared or public parts of any dwelling containing two or more family units; and

(d)     Supply and maintain the facilities for refuse disposal which are required of him by Section 7-28-220.

Learn more about tenant remedies for pest infestation here:

All 136 Comments

  1. Rats in my apartment building for 3 months. They have been in my apartment for a month. Landlord has put glue traps but hasn’t blocked where they are coming from, she doesn’t know where exactly. It’s been so long can I sue her or withhold my rent

    1. You can sue her. Have you sent her written notification about the problem. You can reduce the rent. You will have to send the landlord a notice giving the landlord 14 days to fix the problem or you will reduce the rent to reflect the diminished value of the unit. It is best to be conservative regarding the diminished rent as the judge is the final arbiter of the amount. If you take off too much you could get evicted. Our app can help with writing the letter.

  2. Hello I am a disabled Muslim woman with roaches in my unit. Been calling for years but they say they won’t hire a preventative pest control company to regularly treat units because no one else is calling. My home is tidy and it must be coming from other units. Is there any legal action I can take?

    1. There are a couple of things you could try.
      Do you know others in the building? If so talk with them about the issue and see if others are willing to write a joint letter to the landlord asking management to hire an exterminator.
      If there are more than 6 units in the apartment building or the landlord does not live on site, you could send the landlord a written notice detailing the problem and give the landlord 14 days to fix the problem. Tell the landlord in the letter if the problem is not fixed within the 14 days, then on the 15th day you will hire an exterminator for your unit and deduct the cost from the rent. The law states that you can spend the greater of $500 or one half months rent.

  3. & it’s so sad what me and my family been going through for Damnn near four years now . I’m a single mom of three kids . Me and my kids been living with big alley rats for Four long years .I been paying my rent kisses Lee may have been late a few times honestly but I pay my rent every month plus I applied to different programs to help pay my rent because I was going through some financial difficulties . . Landlord basically just been taking my money and not caring about me and my kids and it’s so sad I’ve been so scared to tell anybody what I’ve been going through I have tons of photos and pictures and videos of these nasty rodents all over my house call my stove is just terrible for anybody to live like this . . So many eggs why haven’t you moved I’m not in the financial position to just up and move when I have two small children plus I’m Expecting now . . I’m just asking for some type of resources to help for me and my kids so we can have a better living situation come 2023 . .

    . I’m currently expecting ( seven months ) and I have a two year old and eleven years old . .

    1. I am sorry to hear about your situation. Have you called 311 and requested an inspection. If the landlord does not live in the building then you can also send the landlord a letter stating that rats are a health and safety issue and a violation of the Chicago Building code. The law states that if the landlord does rememdy the situation then you will hire an exterminator to take care of the problem and deduct the cost from the rent. The law allows you to spend the greater of $500 or one half months rent.

  4. My landlord has never exterminated with any extermination company at all I 5 years I’ve been here. Is this a violation we’ve had problems with pests landlird says it’s to expensive for extermination company

    1. Unless the pests are bed bugs, there is no requirement that the landlord engage a “professional” exterminator. Having said that it does not mean that the landlord can engage an incompetent exterminator and claim they have fulfilled their obligation. The law requires that the landlord get rid of the pests. How large of building is this. From our experience, tenant’s associations have had success in getting the owner to use exterminators to get rid of the pests.

  5. Would 3 separate incidences of Roach infestation in a 10 month period, would this qualify as material non-compliance 05-12-070 “failure to exterminate insects, rodents, or other pests” even if they did show up in less than 14 days? Also on the call the property manager said because of proximity to the lake they had a known problem that wasn’t disclosed on the lease anywhere.

    1. As an non attorney I am not in the position to provide you with any definitive opinion on your question. The answer may depend on how serious the infestation is. If you wish to terminate your lease, it would be best to consult with an attorney. The law is states they must resolve the problem with 14 days. If there are no pests after the 14 days, it is tricky answer.

      As for disclosing a problem. The law states the landlord must notify tenants of “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.” Do you know if the city cited the problem? You do not specify what the problem is.

  6. Lake and wells high rise 36 floors apartments Chicago. Roaches big and little! Out in day! In fridge! Exterminator came 10 days ago. Problem worse now. What can I do?? Do they have to spray every apartment?? Lots of tenants left due to rate increase. So many empty apartments. Don’t the have to spray everywhere? They keep saying they don’t see infestation in apartment but 2 where crawling on wall this morning! 1 in bathroom yesterday
    Apartment is immaculate!
    What would be a good plan??

    1. The law does not require the landlord to spray in every unit. The law does require the landlord to remedy the situation and get rid of the pests in you apartment. Who is the owner of the building? One plan could be to form a tenants association in the building and pressure the landlord to get rid of the pests. Individual tenants can write letters to the landlord giving the landlord 14 days to get rid of the pests and if the landlord does not then a tenant can hire an exterminator and can spend up to 1/2 months rent each month to resolve the problem. You can call 311 and request a building inspection though this does take time.

      1. They told me can’t hire my own exterminator- against their rules. Exterminator came in 2Nd time and sprayed ( their exterminators) building was told it’s a building problem but they are still saying it’s not. Under 311 what do I say is problem? I don’t see infestation

        1. The following is a direct quote from the Chicago’s Residential Landlord and Tenants Ordinance.

          (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. You could show the manager this. I don’t understand what you mean by you don’t see infestation. You need to be able to document the problem.

    1. There are arguments that could be made either way. My first question is did you inform the landlord of the pest problem? Another is do you have a security deposit? The building code states that the unit needs to be pest free. It does not say who is responsible for mice droppings. My general suggestion to tenants is that they wipe down, sweep and mop the entire unit.

  7. My wife; my brother and I signed a lease in April of 2016. This, building has an infestation of mice. I have been trapping mice for almost 6 years and the landlord hasn’t fixed the issue. I have been still paying the rent and now I am required to sign a lease renewal by Nov. 26, 2021.

    1. I am not sure who the owner is or if the landlord lives in the building. If the landlord does not, then under the Chicago Landlord and Tenants Ordinance you could give the landlord a written notice demanding that in 14 days the mice problem needs to be resolved or you will hire someone to fix the problem and deduct the cost from the rent. The cost cannot exceed the greater of $500 or one half months rent. If possible I would take a photo to document the problem. MTO has a web app that could help you with drafting the letter and documenting the problem. You can go to

  8. I contacted my landlord thru email & written letter about my rodent problem my in my unit they are living in my stove & climbing over my countertop In my kitchen where I eat. He sent exterminator out twice but they couldn’t find the problem. Can I terminate my lease & move out?

    1. Because the professional exterminator did not find any rodent, it may cause you problems and is always best to discuss this with an attorney. It would be good to gather as much documentation of the problem as possible (photos the rodent or other signs). Before you can take a step such as terminating the lease you have to sent the landlord a letter stating your intention to move out if the problem is not resolved in 14 days then you will terminate the lease. You can only terminate leases if the situation is not reasonably fit and habitable so it would be best to use that language to describe the problem.

  9. Is my landlord responsible for the cleanup of urine and feces because of a rodent infestation? What about damage to my property by the rodents?

    1. Yes your landlord is responsible for cleaning up the rodent infestation. As for your property that was damaged, did the landlord know about the infestation and refuse to take any action? Often you will have to show some negligence on the landlord’s part.

  10. I have been living in my current residence for 2 yrs. 4 month into my lease I noticed mice. Ive been communicating this problem to the management company and have email documentation of such complaints. Every time I complain they send someone out to fill the holes. The maintenance person used a weather proofing foam that was designed to keep out bugs…not mice. I pointed that out several times as mice continue to eat through the foam as well as make numerous NEW holes that I try to fill with steel wool myself. I keep a very clean apartment, but the complex itself is infested. I learned this after speaking with several residents..What are my rights as far as requiring the management company to put me in a similarly priced unit that is rodent free? What do I need to do to make that happen. I have a heart condition and am also immune compromised. I NEED a clean and rodent free place to live. Please advise

    1. Well there are several things that you can try.
      1. Talk to your neighbors and send the landlord a joint letter requesting the problem be resolved. Our experience is that when tenants work together they tend to have more success that an individual working alone.
      2. Tell the landlord in a written letter if the problem is not resolved within 14 days that you are going to hire some to take care of the problem and deduct the costs from the rent. The costs cannot exceed the greater of $500 or 1/2 months rent.
      3. Call 311 and request a building inspection.

    2. Hi Maria, we are currently have the exact same problem as you. An exterminator has come multiple times but it’s only getting worse. Was there any resolve to your problems? If so, would love some advice on how to handle. I’m at my wits end with these intruders. Thank you!

      1. I am not sure if you live in Chicago or not and if the landlord lives in the building. A couple of things you could try is one call 311 and requesting an inspection and 2 if the landlord does not live on the premises you could send the landlord a notice giving the landlord 14 days to fix the problem. If it is not fixed within that time you can hire an exterminator and spend up to the greater of $500 or 1/2 months rent. We have sample letters if you want to go this route.

  11. I moved into my apartment in February and from the onset have been having severe issues with roaches and large cockroaches. The management team has been sending a pest control team in but I am still seeing roaches in closets, in kitchen cabinets, in the bathroom, etc.

    I was told that they could relocate me into another unit but the local manager has been trying to force me into a smaller unit which is not acceptable. I have largely communicated with them via email and have documented photos and correspondences to and from them as well as the statement from pest control that this would take some time to resolve.

    I have sent the regional manager an email today stating that if they cannot put me in a comparable, pest free unit or resolve the bug issue I want out of my lease June 1st. Does this serve as sufficient notice? What are my rights?

    1. The law states that once a tenant gives the landlord notice of a problem and in that notice gives the landlord 14 days to comply the tenant may terminate the lease and move out if the problem makes the unit not reasonably fit and habitable. It is good that you have documented the problem. I cannot say whether a judge would deem roaches not reasonably fit and habitable. Also did the management company attach a summary of the Chicago Landlord and Tenants Ordinance to the lease. If one was not attached then you can terminate the lease.

  12. What qualifies as written notice?
    Does texting and/or emailing the landlord about cockroaches qualify as written notice, and should I clearly state my intention of hiring an exterminator at that time, re: 14 day rule? Thanks –

    1. Texting or emailing can count as written notice, especially if the landlord has responded or given you specific instructions to contact them via email or text. The problem with email or text is being able to prove the landlord actually received the correspondence. As for using using a 14 day notice, yes you need to clearly state what your intentions are should the landlord fail to take care of the problem. MTO’s app can help you write a letter.

  13. My apartment had cockroaches on move in day. The landlord hired pest control but they were living in the fridge which has moldy torn gaskets cracked interior and lots of roach poop. We asked him to replace it and he refused. Is this within our right? Thank you

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