Chicago Council passes Bed Bug Ordinance

Last updated: July 16, 2013 – 9:44 AM

The City of Chicago has recently been named the nation’s #1 city infested with bed bugs.  Everyday MTO’s tenants’ rights hotline receives calls from renters throughout the City and suburbs dealing with the pesky pests.  Bed bugs are not unique to Chicago.  They are undoubtedly a nuisance and hard to control.  Controlling bed bugs requires tenants and landlords working together.

On June 5, 2013, the City Council passed an ordinance aimed at putting an end to the spread of bed bugs.  This ordinance will go into effect December 23, 2013.  There are key components of the ordinance that all renters should know.  Let’s start with landlord responsibilities:

  • To supply a tenant starting or renewing a lease with an informational brochure
  • To maintain a written record of bed bug control efforts
  • To send a written notice to the tenant explaining their responsibilities before the inspection
  • To provide pest control services when bed bugs are found by a pest management professional as many times as necessary to eliminate the problem
  • To inspect within 10 days and treat if necessary the two units on either side as well as the two units above and below of the infested unit

The ordinance also outlines what tenants’ responsibilities are to help eliminate bed bugs.  Please note that this section of the ordinance does not apply to tenants living in assisted living or a shared housing establishment, when the establishment provides assistance with daily living activities.  According to the ordinance, tenant responsibilities include:

  • To notify the landlord in writing of any suspected or known infestation in the tenants’ unit, clothing, furniture or personal property within 5 days
  • To notify the landlord in writing of any recurring or unexplained bites, stings or sores suspected to be caused by bed bugs
  • To cooperate with the landlord in the control, treatment, and eradication of bed bugs including
  • To grant access at reasonable times upon reasonable notice for inspections and treatments/to not interfere
  • To prepare unit prior to treatment including:  cleaning, dusting, vacuuming
  • To properly dispose of personal property that cannot be treated or cleaned before the pest control services

The Chicago Bed Bug Ordinance also mandates the disposal of bedding, clothing, furnishings or other infested materials.  For example, you may not place, discard or dispose of any bedding, clothing or furnishings infested on the public way (i.e. dumpsters, sidewalks, hallways).  To get rid of infested items, you must enclose the item in a plastic bag and label it as infested.  Doing so should prevent neighbors from bringing to their home infested items, therefore stalling the spread of bed bugs.

The ordinance will be enforced by the Department of Buildings and the Department of Public Health.  If any person is found violating the ordinance, that person may be fined $300.00 to $1,000 per day for each offense.  By complying with the ordinance, these fees can be avoided.   The full ordinance can be found at  You can make a request for a City inspector here.

For more information on tenants’ rights, please call MTO’s hotline at 773-292-4988/Monday-Friday 1-5 pm or visit You can read the full ordinance here.

All 20 Comments

  1. Received a letter from management saying urgent that we should not go into each other apartment it does not say bed bug legally they should state that the problem is bed bugs

    1. The Chicago Bedbug Ordinance does not require the owner to notify all tenants. The law requires landlords to use a professional exterminator if bed bugs are found and to inspect all the units around the unit in which bed bugs were found. If an inspection was done by the city of Chicago and bed bugs were found and the landlord cited then the City would have to inform residents of the violation.

  2. There’s a severe case of bed bug infestation in my entire Chicago building. I’ve been living eaten up and not being able to sleep anywhere in my unit for over 2 years…I’ve also lost work as a result of the sleeplessness it causes. I have been reaching out to leasing office for years. All they do is put a band aid and send an exterminator only once I complain…and just one visit. Then I start sending pictures of my attacks and they send exterminators twice…these visits are only to my unit because I’m the only one complaining. Theres a lot of tenants that do not have the mental capacity to address this and they’re getting killed by this infestation…Im Currently out of work partly because if this situation and I’m being threatened w eviction by my leasing office. If anyone can help, pls reply to this or send me an email…PLEASE

    1. Under Chicago’s bed bug ordinance, once a tenant reports a bed bug infestation, the landlord has 10 days to inspect and take action. The landlord is required to hire a professional exterminator to perform the inspection. The landlord is required to inspect all the units that abut your unit (above, below, next to, catty corner, etc.) If any bed bug is found then the landlord is required to mitigate the problem and must use a professional exterminator. The landlord must engage the exterminator until no more bed bugs are found. If the landlord is not doing this, then you call the 311 and ask the health department to inspect your unit.

  3. I was informed by the exterminator who was making his quarterly service call that the tenant on the first floor informed him that they had bed bugs. The tenants never mentioned this to me.
    There has never been any incidents of bed bug infestation in the 28 years that I have been the landlord. It is a four-unit building. I’am certain that the tenants are at fault, how should we proceed. We share a common laundry room, what precautions should we take

    1. First I think that it would be better to not try to lay blame for a bed bug infestation. It makes tenants afraid or stigmatized and thus not willing to report a problem. As precautions, the first step I might take is to let tenants know if there are problems of any type to report them. You as a landlord will respond and mitigate the problem.
      As a next step, it is important for you to go and inspect each of the units. Half of all people do not react to bed bug bites so that other tenants may have bed bugs and not even know it.
      Precautions would be for tenants to put clothes in plastic bags and wash and dry clothes in a high heat.

  4. Not only do I have a hard time finding the specific section of the Chicago Residential Landlords and Tenants Ordinance that applies to bed bugs (although I am sure it exists and I must therefore be lazy not to be able to easily find it), but little is said about overzealous landlords leaving their tenants alone who use prudent measures to continually control for bed bug infestations picking up one or two from time to time while riding on a bus, etc., carried to their dwelling unit resulting in ‘intermittent’ visits across a period of months and years with never an “infestation.” I live in a CHA high rise and want to use CRLTO 5-12-160 against it to just leave me alone!!!

    1. I do not know Oak Park laws. There are several things that could effect the answer. One is there a lease. If there is a lease then the tenant needs to have violated the lease. It may be difficult to to prove that any one tenant is responsible for a bed bug infestation.

      If there is no lease, the landlord can always terminate a lease with a thirty day notice for no reason whatsoever.

      If the tenant reports bed bugs to a governmental agency, then according to state law, it could be considered retaliation if the landlord does something as a result.

  5. I sent my Landlord notification of the bed bug problem in May-Luckily, I sent him an SMS from my phone so I have proof of notification.

    He still hasn’t arranged for an Exterminator to come. However, we just had our annual Inspection from the CHa and I told the Inspector about the bed bugs and the steps we have taken for containment (Sealed all of our mattresses in plastic) as well as the utilization of silica gel in the place of any harsh chemicals to help with extermination efforts on out own. ( we put it under the beds and on bed frames, as well as the bottom shelves of our bookcases, as well as the lower cabinets, pantry and linen closet and around the perimeter of any rooms they’ve been seen in)

    Th silica gel is best if you don’t have pets or young children around. though it is technically non-toxic, it can prove harmful if ingested.

    Also, we have found that placing double-sided tape at the bottom of furniture legs will catch them before they can get onto chairs, tables, etc.

    1. It is good that you you have documentation that you contacted the landlord. Did the landlord respond to the text. I would encourage further documentation. you could use our app to help with further documentation.

      You can also report the landlord to the City of Chicago by calling 311. I am surprised the Section 8 inspector did not cite the landlord.

  6. We notified our landlord in writing about our problem but it took him 2.5 weeks to get orkin out . I called him 10 day after orkin left and asked were they coming back and he stated he was waiting on us to call to report problem
    I thought an automatic 10day follow up was mandatory so he scheduled orkin to Come out maybe 15 days after which was late
    I have seen bed bugs twice since the second treatment the landlord had carpet so I told him maybe he should steam it and he said he isn’t responsible to do so but i truly believe the problem is the carpeting
    He hasn’t responded to my last call about detecting the last bed bugs lost at this point and he keeps demanding rent before any work is done
    What can we do about the carpet?

  7. My partner and I have been living in our apartment for a little over a year and are dealing with bedbugs for the 3rd time. They treated our place each time and each time we have had to pack things up and go to the laundromat to wash our clothes and have to board our pets for a couple hours while they spray. Each time it seems to be costing more and more. Can I hold my landlord or the condo association responsible for this next round of costs?

    1. The Chicago law regarding bed bugs requires that the the landlord inspect all units in anyway adjacent to your unit. It does not sound like that is happening and then when the landlord sprays the bugs just move to an adjoining unit and then return. Is the landlord hiring and a professional. The other problem is that the pest controllers may not be doing the job correctly. Often times it takes several sprayings to completely kill the pests. Have you written the landlord a letter demanding that the landlord follow the Chicago Ordinance. There may be some problems in condos as your landlord does not have access to all the units. You may want to call the City 311 and report the problem.

  8. My daughter has bed bugs she did notified the landlord who told her she has to pay for the treatment, my four year old grand-daughter is being bitten, they are on section8 I told her to call and report the landlord to section-8 it has been over 3 months and nothing is being done, please help

    1. Chicago passed a bed bug ordinance that states the tenant is to report the bed bugs and the landlord must arrange for the eradication of the bed bugs. If the landlord can show that the renter is the cause of the problem which may be difficult then the landlord may be able to bill the tenant. For instance, if the tenant brought furniture in from the alley and that was the cause of the infestation then the tenant could be held liable. you can also encourage your daughter to call 311 and get a city inspector out. The City can cite the landlord for failing to follow its ordinances. I would make sure that your daughter has put the notice in writing so that it can be documented. Phone calls are very difficult to prove.

  9. While visiting Chicago 4th of July weekend, we did have contact with 2- bedbugs: one in our hotel room (310) the first night, and one next door in our second room (308) the morning we were leaving. Perhaps they flew in the “opened, no screened window.”

    I asked for email 310 to be cleaned again and sprayed and the bed area vacuumed. I don’t believe the vacuuming was done because nothing appeared to have been moved, and there were still small pieces of paper on the floor. Because the room was to be sprayed, we chose not to move to another room.

    We trapped the bedbug in a bottle on both occasions and handed them over to the front desk clerks. We received a $100 discount.

    Second, we found the refrigerator wasn’t cold enough. No one came, at my request, to fix the problem. I did locate the control in the rear, and changed the temp from a “1”. It was too late to save our food.

    Third, the toilet kept running. After maintenance “repaired” it, we continued to hear the tank adding water!

    1. Hotels are exempted from the Landlord and Tenants Ordinance. You might contact Attorney hall Adams who is very knowledgeable about bed bugs. Hall Adams (bed bugs, must demonstrate via paper trail that the bed bug issue has occurred)……………….. 312-445-4900

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