Exceptions to the Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance

Last updated: February 12, 2009 – 8:00 AM

If you live in Chicago, the Chicago RLTO governs your tenancy unless you reside in:

  • An owner occupied building containing less than seven apartments;
  • A hotel, motel, inn, rooming house, or boarding house (unless you have resided there for more than 31 days and pay rent on a monthly basis); or
  • A hospital, convent, monastery, school dormitory,temporary overnight or transitional shelter, cooperative, or
  • A building owned by your employer (assuming your right to live there is conditioned upon you being employed in or around the building).

This information does not apply if you live outside of the City of Chicago or if one of the above conditions apply.

All 120 Comments

  1. I live in an owner occupied building with less than seven units. Over the last two weeks I have found two roach nymphs. One in the bathroom and one in the kitchen sink. I have informed the owner who has said they have never had roaches before. I have showed her what I thought was possible roach feces and I have found a carcass of a roach nymph in some cob webs. I have pictures of these. She has only recommended that I buy spray. What are my options as I am not covered by the RLTO?

    1. Are there other tenants in the building? If there are I would start by seeing if any of them have noticed any roaches. If so a joint letter to the landlord might get the landlord to do something. You can call 311 and request a building inspection though our experience is that unless the inspector actually sees a roach they will not do anything. The laws are not that good in your situation.

  2. are security deposits covered for renters that live in owner occupied buildings at all? also, what counts as a unit? in the building i live in there there are 6 normal units and a basement that was converted. the owner does occupy one of the units, however. do tenants have ANY rights in owner occupied buildings?

    1. If someone is living in the converted unit, then it counts as a unit. So you may be covered by the law. In owner occupied buildings of 6 units or less, tenant still have rights. The landlord still has to return the security deposit, but there are not any defined penalties. The landlord still has to maintain the unit up to the building code specifications. Landlord still have to take you to court to evict a tenant. Tenants do have some rights. They are vaguer and harder to enforce.

  3. I moved in to my current apartment 11/22/19 and after i signed the lease, i saw a baby roach…asked them if that was a roach, they killed it and said no we do not have roaches. the next day before moving my things in, there were three big roaches and one baby roach spotted in the kitchen and hallway. I called and they didn’t believe me, ended up having an “exterminator” come in the following Tuesday. This man is self employed, used to work for a company no longer does…mixes boric acid and water, at his home, to spray the base boards and gave me roach traps…the roaches are still prevalent and I can’t even make food in the kitchen without them crawling in/on the food. They have been made aware of the infestation for 2 weeks now, they do not want to hire a real company that can do actual fumigation. I am now approaching the 3rd week and rent is due soon, at what point can I withhold rent or report them to the health department/HUB? They exterminator is not even looking to see where the infestation is at he’s only spraying at the base boards. What do you advise me to do as a new tenant?

    1. How large is the building that you live in? If the person is only spraying your unit, not sealing the holes which the pests are entering, then the problem will persist.

      The law regarding rent withholding states that the tenant must give the landlord a written notice describing the problem and in the letter give the landlord 14 days to take action or the tenant will reduce the rent. you can go to http://www.squaredawaychicago.com to access letters.

      The Chicago law allows tenants to use a portion of their rent to make repairs. Once you write the letter above and the landlord does nothing then you could hire someone. Though if it is a building wide problem they will be back.

      You can call 311 though regarding roaches they generally have to see them to cite the building so I do not know if the roaches will appear when they come.

      If there are others in the building you could work with everyone to organize a tenants association and you will probably have better results.

      In the future, if you see one roach there are others

  4. What about the exception for two addresses under the same roof? I saw that in a video from LCBH. We just signed a lease but are trying to break it. It’s a house with upstairs and downstairs unit. Apparently the owner is living upstairs. The building is in horrible shape and we’d be able to get out of it under the RLTO, but for this exception. The address they gave us on the lease is clean, but the other address on the door and on utility accounts has code violations. We’re only dealing with the property manager, they so far haven’t provided info on who the owner is. Property manager isn’t cooperating. If there are two addresses, is it still considered owner-occupied?

    1. I am not sure what your question is. If the owner lives in a unit in the building and it is 6 units or fewer then your unit is not covered. My question is why do you say apparently the owner is living upstairs. Have you ever seen the owner? Secondly the code violations need to be in your unit or in a common area and they need to make the unit not reasonably fit and habitable if you are going to terminate the lease. It is not necessary for the City building inspectors to have inspected your unit to use this portion of the law. You just have to document through photos and other means the condition that that makes the unit not reasonably fit and habitable.

  5. I lived in the same building since 2005, I’ve moved around in diffrent apartments once for a larger space, & another time because the manager told me that I had to move because they wasn’t able to repair my ceilings as I lived there, so now I am in my 3rd apartment in the same building. Today I was told that I needed my lease to finish up some of my business I went to my landlord’s office to ask for a copy of my lease & she returned less then 2 minutes with my lease in hand when I look at my lease the move in date said 03/01/2017 & the lease ending date said 02/28/2017, I told her that the lease dates was mess up & that i wasn’t able to complete my business with this lease & the manager told me that there wasn’t anything that she could do about my lease stating that i moved in in March of 2017 & my lease was up February 28 2017. I’m I crazy or is something wrong here? What can I do? Reply

    1. What do you need the lease for? The landlord obviously made an error. Either you moved into your current unit on March of 2016 or the lease went until February of 2018. Currently you are on a month to month agreement which is common. Many people do not get a new lease when the old lease ends. If the lease is needed to verify where you live, perhaps you could get the landlord to sign a statement verifying your address. I am not sure what you can do as far as getting the landlord to rewrite the lease. I would get a copy and see if the lease with the error will satisfy your business.

  6. How do I get help for an owner occupied building with 3 units? Are they are guidelines in which the owner is obligated? For example my landlord blocked my internet access (inc with lease), and refuses to fix my clogged toilet (which I had absolutely nothing to do with). Thanks in advance.

    1. Because the landlord lives on the premises, your rights are restricted. You could call the City at 311 and request an inspection. That would hopefully motivate the landlord to fix the toilet. A written letter to the landlord detailing all the issues is generally good protocol as demands in writing carry more weight.

      As for the Internet, technically it could be considered a lockout though it may be difficult to get the police to agree with you. Any ideas as to why the landlord is doing this.

  7. I rent a condo in a very nice, 43 story high rise. The condo was advertised as updated (partially) and was painted before I moved in 8/2017. Six months into my lease large cracks began to appear on all the walls. I put up with those cracks since I did not want to move again so soon. The landlord asked if I planned to renew my lease (April 2018). I agreed since the cracks were “bearable” and signed a 2 yr lease with two $50 rent increases. The rent price is substantial. Owner insisted that I sign the lease in May 2018 (lease normally would have ended in August). By August, large chucks of paint (former cracks) began falling away from all the walls and is getting increasingly worse. There is also possible mold growth on the wall under the kitchen sink but never any visible sign of water leakage. Do I have any recourse? The landlord refuses to repair the paint unless I pay half the costs and is blaming me for the mold issue, refusing to hire a mold expert. Is it possible to terminate my lease without penalty or risking good credit and still get my security deposit back? I can stick it out but it’s more about ethics and misrepresenting the condition of the condo.

    1. The law states if the repair problem renders the unit not reasonably fit and habitable then you can terminate the lease.
      Chicago’s laws regarding mold are weak or nonexistent. You might want to call the city inspectors and request an inspection if the landlord is failing to make repairs. You can do this by calling 311. We also have http://www.squaredawaychicago.com app that can help you with documenting this problem. You may be able to use the app to hire someone to make the repairs and deduct the costs of the repairs from the rent.

      Have you spoken with the landlord about leaving early. If you are not getting along it is probably in both parties interests to end the lease agreement. Also you mentioned that you had a security deposit. Did the owner pay interest on the deposit every year? If not the landlord could be in violation of the law and may be liable for damages of twice the deposit plus attorney fees. If you choose the security deposit option as a way to force the landlord to end the agreement, there are attorneys who may be able to help.

      Lastly, did the landlord attach a summary of Chicago’s Landlord and Tenants Ordinance to the lease. If not then that is another violation which allows the tenant to terminate the agreement.

  8. My dining room ceiling was leaking rain water in Feb., and I made the building management team aware of. The roof was compromised and rain leaked in March and April. I wrote letters for them to repair it. In, feb., I was told to wait until April. Someone called themselves repairing the roof. The, ceiling continued to leak. Then in May they tried to fix the leak and it did not work. I continued to let them know about the problem. I was advised to write a grievance. I had the grievance meeting in June. I gave my solutions. I was told to move into another unit and I was not getting concessions for February and March. I had been given a concession to pay $425.00 in April. May, June and July continued to be problematic for the dining room ceiling. June 12th they conducted a unit inspection and they saw the dining room ceiling. Then, I am told the weather has to warm up before repairs can be made. Repairs began on July 26th, 2018 and were completed on July 31st, 2018. The, first week in August, the dining room carpet was cleaned. In, the meeting, I was told by the apartment manager, I can expect to see a concession for July. Well, they say I had owed them 1,745 dollars. I was given a $300.00 dollar concession for July. Now, I still owe 1,445.00 dollars. I am aware I owe rent for August. In, 2016-2017, there was a huge problem with mice. I had to take drastic matters and seal up the wall borders, vent spaces and closets, myself. They would spray and put out mouse traps and that did nothing.

    1. I am sorry all these things have happened. MTO is starting anew Eviction Prevention Program. You situation sounds ideal for it. i want to warn you that asking for compensation for something that happened in 2016-17 will be difficult. Do you have any type of paper trail documenting contact with the landlord regarding the lack of proper repairs. Were the concession you spoke of in writing? Has the landlord deducted those costs from the bill? I would suggest that you call the MTO hotline and ask for the Eviction Specialist. Secondly, MTO has a tenants app http://www.squaredawaychicago.com. which will help you document situations and communicate effectively with your landlord.

  9. I am hoping for some advice on a current situation I am facing. We’ve rented through a big company for nearly 4 years. About 9 months ago, we transferred out lease with them to a bigger apartment. For the last 3 months we’ve had an insane roach/waterbug problem. We are clean (the exterminators noted this in their observation as well) and we, at one time, were catching one humongous bug a day. Now it’s sporadic but we’re constantly seeing baby ones daily (and multiple. They’ve sprayed four times now, but it’s not resolved. Our lease was due for renewal the other day, and we didn’t sign. They are not letting us have a month to month and are sounding like if we don’t renew, we’re out at the end of July. We cannot afford the cost of moving right now, since we just did this 9 months ago. To pay a deposit and everything would be killer to our accounts. What rights do we have? What can we do? I am so stressed out and just emotionally drained and disgusted.

    1. Is this a single family home or do other tenants have pest problems. Tenants can use their rent to hire an exterminator if you give the landlord a written notice of the problem and give them 14 days to fix it. Our app http://www.squaredawaychicago can help with writing and documenting the problem which is important that it is all done correctly. Our call our hotline for additional help. We may be able to refer you a pest company who will help you.

  10. Hi I have a concern basically it goes like this . Im new to the apartment building which is a 3 unit building. I’ve shared concern about the lack of a secure rear door. Every other unit has a secure door and gate but the unit I’m in. What can I do because the landlord has not done a thing to repair the door

    1. All rental units are required to have a deadbolt or a deadlatch as a locking mechanism. If your unit does not not have one then your can get the landlord to install one or hire someone to install one once you followed proper procedures. You can use MTO’s http://www.squaredawaychicago.com to help you write the letter and to take the next steps you will need to do.

  11. I own my condo in the west loop part of Chicago. I rent to a guy who has the bedroom and I couch surf in my own place for being out of work. The income is helpful,but not enough. I have opportunity to rent out the remainder of my place being the living room. I need to do this to keep from losing my house. Or even if not that severe of a situation I want to know if that is illegal because the current rental agreement does not mention anything against it nor does it limit occupants. In doing this the current renter maintains the current storage space and privacy that they have. All except part of the kitchen pantry the new person will need. I own the property so do I need to offer any consent or alerts to this fact? Does proven hardship offer any relief. While doing this I can offer the current renter their money back and chance to rent elsewhere. So leaving is an option paid for, They paid all their rent up front.

    1. I have never heard of a situation exactly like this. Do you have a written agreement with the current tenant? What does it state? Do they have sole use of parts of the unit and only have to share parts with you? If you do not have a written agreement what does the tenant think the agreement is? At a minimum you need to discuss this over with them. If you are all going to be living in the same space how are you going to decide who moves in. The other part is what happens if the situation does not work out. Roommate situations can often sour. I have no idea if leaving is an option. Moving costs money. You might also want to see if the Condo association has rules about renting and to how many people.

  12. An I rent a basement apartment in section 8 even thou it’s a two flat and the basement is not on the deed

    1. I am not sure what your question is. Are you asking about the zoning for a particularly building? Are you asking if a building is not properly zoned should a landlord be able to rent it. For the most part no. Often times zoning may be changed after the building is already in use and in those cases the past zoning for the building is “grandfathered in”

  13. We moved into a family home to rent where the basement is a separate living space with two bedrooms. The landlord moved there so we, a family of six can move into the upstairs three “bedroom” apartment. This includes the main floor (kitchen, bath and living area) There is one heater in the living room. This is the sole heating unit. It does not reach the upstairs and our temperature reads 59 to 60 degrees. The heat only blows straight out. I’ve contacted a lawyer through tenants rights and was advised that because the landlord lived in the home at the time of the lease I would not be covered???
    What does this mean and how is it okay to only have one heater for a two floor home? We have every window and door covered with plastic. The floors in the bathroom and kitchen are freezing. We use rugs to help with that, but it is cold in here all the time. What can we do?

    1. It is not okay for your unit only to be 59 or 60 degrees. There are limits as to what actions the law allows you to take to assert your rights. Because the landlord lives in the building, you do not have as many options. Have you spoken with the landlord? Ask the landlord to purchase a space heater of 2 for your unit. It is important that you also put in a written request to the landlord to fix the heat. You should start a heat log and regularly detail the temperature in your unit. You can also call the City at 311 and request an inspection. Inform them that the heat is not working. The inspector will measure the temperature and 60 degrees is a violation. During day time hours, your unit should be 68 Degrees. I would start with these steps. Let us know how the landlord reacts.

      1. RLTO is not the only applicable laws. City of Chicagonalso has building ordinances (in my recent experience landlords try to skirt around those). 311 is your best friend. Mention it is about heat minimum requirements. This time of year, the City of Chicago Department of Buildings gets on top of heat-related inspections pretty quickly, or so I’m told. It can be requested online, but calling gives you the opportunity to ask questions to make sure you’re requesting the right thing.

        Fun facts everyone should know before moving, you can go to the City of Chicago Department of Buildings website and enter any address to see all violations, of any. I’m told unless it’s high profile, most landlords get to self report if they complied. Not sure the accuracy of that.

        In any event, it gives you some questions to ask BEFORE you sign a lease. Get their answer in writing (email is fine) so in case something happens, you can show you received a written assurance prior to signing.

        RLTO is tenant-friendly, everyone says, as long as you know to take precautions to protect yourself from day one. My two cents from some in court now bc the landlord lied, document everything. Take pictures. Send emails instead of calling. It’s a pain, but it’s worth it if you end up with a lying landlord who lies under oath like I have. Good luck!

      2. MTO would certainly agree that to call 311 and ask for an inspection is important and can also be used as documentation if you need to go to court. Documenting is essential to using the RLTO. Far too many tenants only call their landlord and then end up in trouble as the court turns into a he said she said debate, which is not a winning strategy for renters.

  14. Hello. I moved into a complex in Lakeview that is owned by Triview and on our listing it says that leases ending in Summer of 2019 (18 month lease) receive the 2nd month rent free, heat a/c and internet included, and now that I am signed and moved in they are asking me to put this in my name and claiming this is not included and that the listing has changed. I looked at the listing online and it looks like they deleted all of this AFTER they updated it with the information stating that I am the new renter. I have the actual copy of the old Residential Agreement form and have sent them a copy. They claim that this is not current and are “looking into the situation”. How can this not stand up in court? I have the paperwork that was given to us during the actual walkthrough by the agent.

    1. This is a difficult situation and hard to say what a judge would say. In many instances, a contract is not official until both parties sign which means that either party my change or offer something different. Once a person signs the agreement then it is considered an official offer. My question is did the agent who did the walk through initial or sign any of the paperwork. If so then that could be considered an offer.

      There are lots of questions and I am not an attorney and this situation is dealing more with contract law than landlord and tenant. When did the you receive a copy of the signed agreement that they changed? Was it after or before you moved in? Did they take a deposit to secure the place? If so what paperwork did they give you with the deposit? When did you move in? Did you contact the firm and tell them that the changes to the lease are not acceptable? Did the firm attach a summary of the landlord and tenants ordinance to the newly modified lease?

      There may be some consumer protections laws that have been broken but I am not familiar with those laws.

      I am not sure if an attorney would take this case unless there other issues. It may be best to negotiate an agreement with the landlord. Possibly you could move out and state that you are on a month to month agreement and have no lease because you have not agreed to the offered terms which are different that the ones that you signed. You could always sue the landlord in small claims court.

  15. I live in one unit of a 2 flat above a business (non owner occupied). My lease states the CRLTO applies. I’ve had a problem with the unit smelling of sewer gas for the past few days. I informed the landlord’s son (unofficial property manager) who told me that the whole street for 2 blocks has had the same problem for years. They’ve spoken to the city, aldermen, plumbers, lawyers, etc. and can’t get the problem fixed. I don’t have an address for the landlord (the only information is his name on the lease), but I do have the address of his leasing agent, and his son runs the store downstairs. Would a 14 day notice followed up by a visit from a plumber be appropriate, and would the plumber’s visit, but not necessarily the repair (which might exceed 1/2 a month’s rent) be covered? Who should I send the notice to? The son won’t give me his father’s address.

    1. There are several parts to the questions.

      First if the son is acting as the agent then the letter can be to the son.

      As for the problem there are 2 questions. The first is whether the landlord and tenant ordinance applies to the situation. If it is a community wide problem, the landlord may not be responsible. For instance if the main city water line to your unit is lead, it will be difficult to hold the landlord responsible for the City water main. If the problem is with the sewer system, then the landlord may not be liable.

      The law for repair and deduct is to fix problems. If the plumber would come back and say that the the issue is the City sewer line that you may not be able to deduct the cost because there is no building code or lease violation on the landlord’s part.

      The repair and deduct law is not written to cover the cost of the inspection. If there is no repair made then it may not be advisable to use the law. Are there other violations of the building code which may be adding to the problem such a broken fan in the bathroom. You could do a repair and deduct to fix that and maybe the person who fixes the fan could provide information regarding the odor.

      Have you called 311 to request a City inspection? That would be safest remedy at this point. The inspector may be able to inform you as to source of the problem.

  16. I moved into my apartment 2 years ago. My landlord lived in the suburbs, so it was covered under RLTO. My landlord just sold the building a couple of weeks ago and the new landlord will be moving into the building. I gave the new landlord notice that we are moving in 40 days, on or before January 1st. I mentioned to the new owner that I am concerned about the $2,100 deposit that was handed to him at the closing, as this is a 100 yr old building with much being original. He simply replied that he would “keep it in mind”. He was not very reassuring. I am worried he will use my deposit to fix the original 100 yr old doors, woodwork, and floors that look like crap, or to replace the 50 year old hall carpet. I’d like to simply use the deposit for the last month rent, just to be safe. We didn’t damage anything, and even if we did, he can only deduct for damage done since he actually purchased the building. Not only that, the previous landlord never provided an deposit receipt, never gave me interest, did not keep my deposit in a separate account, and did not provide lead disclosures or copy of RLTO, so she definitely violated the RLTO laws. If he gives me trouble for using the deposit for the last month rent, can I still invoke the RLTO laws that the previous landlord violated? Or, if I take the chance and pay the last month rent and he does not return the deposit, will it cost me more time and money than it’s worth, since he is an owner occupied landlord?

    1. First, I am not an attorney. Since the agreement started as an agreement covered the the RLTO, you can make an argument that the lease agreement and the RLTO would be a part of that agreement, continues to be in effect until the new landlord sends written notice that the rules have changed. So you would have a good argument that it is still covered by the RLTO.

      The original landlord is on the hook for not paying interest so you could potentially go after her.

      As for paying not paying the rent, the landlord could potentially go after you for nonpayment of rent by giving you a 5-day-pay-or-vacate notice and then if you do not pay, take you to eviction court. It is hard to say if the landlord will pursue an eviction. The filing of an eviction can potentially harm your ability to rent as many landlords just look at whether an eviction was filed.

      In any case, I would document the condition of the unit with photos. What kind of relationship do you have with the old landlord? Will the old the landlord sign off that the some of the problems were pre-existing? If so, I would get that in writing.

  17. Hi, I live in an owner-occupied building with 2 units. Pursuant to the lease, the owner agreed to provide a stove. My oven has been non-functional for nearly a month and despite numerous emails, the issue has yet to be resolved. What rights do I have since I am not covered under the RLTO? Please advise. Thank you in advance.

    1. The laws are very limited in this situation. Do you know what the problem with the stove is? Even though the law does not describe any specific remedies for your situation, You might want to try writing a letter to the owner stating according to the lease, the owner will provide a stove. Then I would say in the latter you will go ahead and hire someone to repair or replace the stove if yuo do not hear back from the landlord within 14 days. If this is not acceptable, then please inform you of plans to remedy the situation. I would see how the landlord reacts to this.

  18. Sorry looks like everything I typed didn’t show up unless it’s not working on my end I’m resending just Incase you can’t see as well…

    Hi! My name is Marybeth. I’ve lived in my studio for 3 years. I’ve had bathroom issues since I’ve moved in. The bathtub faucet leaks hot water (and I’m not talking about a drip) it acually burnt the tub and discolored it. This seems to be happening every 6 months. On top of the bathroom ceiling leaking. I’ve had issues in the past twice coming home from a vacation within 2 months in between from each other to flooding in my bathroom. They repaired the ceiling by destoying it and leaving it open for two weeks. I had to use my friends shower due to looking up and seeing all the filth and spider webs. It took them two weeks just to put up plastic and came back another two weeks to put up dry wall. I put a work order in September 18th 2017 about the faucet leaking and the ceiling leaking. I’ve made numerous appointments with the plumber in text and two he never showed up for let alone call me. His excuse was he an emergency. I called and put another work order in on September 22nd 2017 telling them from keeping the bathroom door shut due to the hot water and that week being in the 90s. My window unit wouldn’t cool the studio down. Every time I opened the bathroom door it was a blast of hot steam smacking you in the face. The walls were sweating and my bathroom door expanded and won’t shut on top of it splitting. Today October 4th, 2017 the plumber finally shows up to his appointment 30 minutes late of course. Breaks the tile in the bathroom to fix the faucet put up plastic and left. He couldn’t tell me when someone was coming back to do the tile which I was told it will all be done in one day. They also couldn’t tell me anything about the ceiling when they were going to repair it. All I got was a shoulder raise and a I don’t know. I called my management company and they wouldn’t tell me anything either. I only give them two days to do maintenance Wednesday because I’m off and Saturday because my boyfriend is off. The only reason why I give them these days is so we can be home. when they came to fix the same issue back in March. The maintenance guy used the restroom but failed to aim into the toilet, on top of getting a bloody nose and having blood drips in the toilet on tissue and on the floor, along with his dirty footprint everywhere failing to clean up. To get home from a 11 hour day of work to have to see a unsanitary bathroom left completely unprofessional and disgusting. I have pictures, videos and emails. How do I go about this? Can I get out of my lease?

    1. I am guessing the landlord does not live on the premises. In that case the law allows tenants to give the landlord a a written 14-day notice to demand the landlord make repairs or if the repairs are not completed within 14 days from the receipt of the notice then the tenant can make the repairs as long as the repairs do not cost more than 1/2 months rent. The landlord is also required to provide 2 days notice any time he or she intends to enter.

      At http://www.squaredawaychicago.com you can go onto the website and get help with formulating letters and helping with the documentation. I suggest you take advantage of this tool.

  19. My roommate and I recently moved into our apartment 9/1/17. The building has two separate addresses with 6 units in each owned by the same management company.

    Every morning I am awakened by loud squeaky floor noises and thumping coming from the above apartment. Not only is it consistently disruptive, but I am awakened prior to my alarm clock ringing at 7:15 am. My neighbors wake up at 5:30 am for work and the loud squeaky noises continue from the moment that they are up to the point where they leave for work. My bedroom is located directly underneath their bedroom.

    The noise issue has gotten to the point where it’s affecting my quality of life. I’m not getting enough sleep because of the noise level, I’m getting headaches, and I’m fatigued throughout the day which is impacting my work productivity. I have tried utilizing earplugs while sleeping, however, they fall out of my ear at some point throughout the night. I have also turned on a fan and utilized sleep music in order to drown the noise. All of these efforts have failed.

    I have addressed the flooring issue with my landlord via email on numerous occasions. He said that he would be willing to offer a deduction on the rent if the tenants above buy an area rug. After speaking with the neighbors, they shared with me that they already have a rug in the bedroom but that they would be willing to buy a larger one. I expressed my concerns to the landlord once again stating that this is a flooring issue and that an area rug will not solve the problem. Ultimately, he stated that the repairs would be too costly and that there was nothing that he could do about it.

    I was not made aware of any noise levels in the building prior to moving in. The first email I sent regarding this issue was on 9/6/17, then it has been a continuous back and forth since 9/15/17 until today.

    At this point, I need to know what my options are. Please advise.

    1. Noise issues are very hard to resolve and for the most part are not specifically covered in the law. You could see if a larger area carpet resolves the problem. If that does not work, you might see if the landlord would let you out of the lease or if the landlord would install some other type of sound-proofing. I do not know if there are any code violations. Do you know what the tenants are doing above you. If there are exercising or something like that maybe they could use a different room.

  20. Hi, I am currently renting an apartment in a building that is covered by RLTO. I am terminating lease early, due to some family issues that require relocation. Been living here going on two years, and lanlord is letting us out of lease but insists keeping all of my security deposit. A few concerns as to whether I can demand it based on the following.
    1. I have never received a copy of either signed leases.
    2. A written request was submitted last winter regarding lack of storm windows and screens. This was never remedied.
    3. I was never provided with required summary of RLTO.
    4. I have never recieved confirmation of deposit of my security deposit, adress or name of said bank, or any interest on security deposit.

    Does any of this entitle me to a refund of my deposit?

    1. First the chicago ordinance states that if the landlord does not provide a tenant with a summary of the RLTO, The tenants has the right to terminate the lease and move out after providing the landlord with written notice of the violation. Once the notice is given the tenant has 30 days to move out or the lease is reinstates.

      In this case if the landlord has not paid interest on the deposit or provided you confirmation of the deposit which includes the bank then the landlord has opened his or herself up to possible litigation in which you can sue the landlord for twice the deposit. It would be wise on their part to negotiate with you. If not then you can contact an attorney, in which case the landlord can be held liable for damages and attorney fees.

  21. Long story short me and my partner broke up. I left on 7-4 got an email saying the locks had been changed on 7-31 per her building manager and pangea I evicted myself. Along with the email was an eviction worksheet that stated improperly that I had been at the residence for 32 days. Im going to assume she meant I haven’t. But also the email stated that my things would be curved in 5 days. The police are a joke everytime I called it was you are not on the lease blah blah. Been living there since april. Finally I saw the special order on this website went to the residence on 8-5 got a supervisor almost was about to issue an arrest for my partner but changed her mind. Said the special order is only for her or her landlord. Which i think is incorrect but we know how the police are. My things were thrown out on the back. Not everything I guess she decided to keep some of my things. The police issued a non criminal property report to me. I contacted a tenants rights lawyer he wasnt help took my money. Just to email pangea for them to confirm they changed the locks at the request of the lease holder. The waste of a lawyer said I was stuck. Should I just call it a loss or what.

    1. This is a difficult question to answer, especially not knowing all the issues involved. If there was any domestic violence involved the situation becomes even more complicated. Have you drafted a letter to Pangea and your former partner with a list of items that you want returned. Maybe you could arrange for a friend to pick up the property. I am not sure what the value of the property is. It may be best to just move on and let it go.

  22. Hello,

    Does the RLTO govern tenancy if the landlord lives in the same unit as the tenant? The existing lease is for a furnished ROOM in a two bedroom condo. The owner lives in the master bedroom and the tenant lives in the second bedroom.

    Thank you in advance for your help!

    1. The Landlord and Tenant Ordinance does not cover owner occupied buildings of less than 7 units. The owner must follow lease provisions and can not change the rules until the end of the lease.

  23. Good afternoon,

    My name is Rosemary I am currently having issues with my landlord. My lease is over in July and all I ask is a month of peace and privacy before I move out. She has been allowing potential buyers to enter into my unit without 48 hour notice or a notice at all. In addition, one of the buyers did not have anyone representing them (landlord, realtor or listing agent). They entered while I was undressing. The buyers said that they were not informed of any tenants occupying the unit. They were only given a lock box combination to retrieve a set of keys to my unit. When I asked my landlord her response was “to my knowledge only 24 hour notice was sufficient enough.” I said that my personal space was invaded. Her reply was “hide your belongings.” She refused to apologize nor agreed to never do this again (I have emails, text messages and videos of these exchanges). Her first offense, I forgave her and decided not to escalate this to a civil suit as long as she respected my privacy. I have, on numerous occasions tried to resolve this matter. I allowed more showings thereafter as long as I was informed within 48 hours and there was someone representing these buyers to all showings to my unit. All in all, I have been a great tenant.

    Yesterday, the same incident occurred. Only I was not informed. I arrived home 45 minutes early. I was, for the most part, naked. I started cooking then suddenly I hear a man’s voice. I screamed “get out! Shut the door!” When I was fully dressed I opened the door to confront the ppl that tried to enter. It was a realtor from REDFIN and a young lady (buyer). The realtor apologized and told me that a showing was confirmed by my landlord. He was not informed of a tenant being present. He said that he retrieved the keys from a lock box. When I reached out to my landlord she said she did not authorize this showing. An hour later I tried to schedule another showing (not a 48 notice). I told her that I had family/friends visiting this weekend and the next weekend. In addition, I told her that I would like all showings on hold until she heard from my lawyer. She continued to push on and say that I should not interfere with her showings. I told her that at this time until I feel secure that all showings are seized until she heard from my lawyer. She continues to harass me. I feel so violated. She has no respect for my personal space.

    Enough is enough. I want to feel safe. Now, I like to take legal action. I am seeking advice from you. What are my options? Can I withhold showings if landlord does not guarantee lawful entry? (5-12-060 Remedies for improper denial or access). Should I request a lawyer? Is this a strong case? I do not know what to do. Please advise.

    1. The law requires that you send the landlord a warning letter. A first step is to send the landlord a letter or you could use our SquaredAwaychicago.com app. In the letter I would state the day of the violation and warn the landlord that any further violations could result in penalties of one’s month rent. In the letter inform the landlord that 2 days notice of intent to enter is required.

      Some tenants have installed door alarms on their door. In general, a realtor will not want to enter if an alarm is going to be set as their clients will not want to be in the unit while an alarm is gong off. Tenants have also put a note on the door then warning the realtors that an alarm will go off if they enter and that if they want to make an appoint to please contact you.

      The law is clear that the landlord must provide you a two day notice to enter and that if there is no notice then you do not have to allow the landlord to enter. You could always negotiate for discount in your rent if they want to give less than 2 days notice. You can let them know that you will not be giving permission if they provide less than 2 days notice that this has gone on for too long.

      You can contact an attorney and pursue legal remedies once you send the landlord a letter. You will have to able to prove that the lanldord or their agent entered the unit.

  24. Hi John,

    My family and I live in an owner-occupied 6 unit building. For the past year, our landlord has been very hostile with us, making huge issues out of simple things. They are very particular about how they like the apartment, i.e the blinds all have to be at the same level, windows open at the same height, and other random things like that. A couple of things have happened now that have just made living here to be pretty awful.

    1. The toilet lid on the back of the toilet broke while my daughter was going to the bathroom. I was in the bathroom with her and she went to stand up and it just cracked and broke. The toilet has been showing some wear since we moved in 4 years ago, but this was obviously very dangerous and when we told our landlord about it, he yelled at us saying that it was our fault and that our 3 year old took a hammer to the toilet and that’s why it broke. And he refused to fix it because “only he decides when the toilet needs to be replaced”. We found a new toilet lid to put on it so that we could avoid having to deal with him.

    2. We share a back deck with our landlord (they live across the hall from us) and the other week we noticed that the table, chairs, and rug (that all belong to them) were gone and stored away. They leave every summer for 3 months and have always told us to use the deck if we want while they are gone. Considering there was no table or chairs to use, we put out a small folding table and some chairs so we could eat out there. This was the Sunday before they were leaving for the summer (on Tuesday) and they saw us out on the deck and were very curt when walking past. After I had gone inside, my partner and our two daughters were outside and our landlord came out yelling that we were trying to take advantage of them. We explained that there was no table so we wanted something to use on the deck and he continued to yell that we “are always using the deck so they can’t use it” and this is his “private f***ing deck, if you don’t like it, you can move, I don’t give a s***”. His daughter was visiting at the time, he stormed into his apartment and she came out apologizing for him and saying he doesn’t want us using the deck anymore, at all now.

    All of this is to say that now my whole family does not feel comfortable living here. My 3 year old is afraid to be outside in the yard or near the deck because she thinks the landlord is going to yell at us. I have had him yell at me on other occasions, but never in front of my kids.

    Do we have any rights to be able to break the lease? They are gone until the end of August, but I would really like to take advantage of this summer time to find a new place because this is when there is the most availability.

    Appreciate your insight!

    1. Because the landlord lives on the premises and it is less than 7 units there are few ways to terminate a lease. Has the landlord violated the lease? Does it actually state in the lease that blinds or the windows all have to be at the same level. The landlord cannot change the rules during teh middle of the lease.

      If you want to terminate the lease, you might want to have a discussion with the landlord and get some sort of an agreement in writing. When is your lease up?

      1. Hi John,

        Thanks for your response. From the internet research I’ve done it seemed like that was the case. The things I mentioned are not stated in our lease, just things that they tell us to do.

        We just resigned our lease in April. We were actually surprised he asked us to resign with how hostile he’s been towards us. So, now with all of this, I really don’t think I can stay another year. No interaction with him is a good one at this point. I may just have to talk to him and see if he would be willing to let us leave.

        Thanks again for your response!

  25. landlord entered my apartment without a 24 hour notice. He stated he had to enter my apartment because of a leak in th e apartment below. He then give me a 30 day notice to terminate my month to month lease. when i questioned him about the 30 day notice he said the apartment was messy and that was it…i been here for six years and have three children and as far of regular wear in tear from paint work and old blinds, my house is together, rent is paid and never had a problem with neighbors….So with that being said what are my options or rights?

    1. In regards to the landlord entering your apartment, the landlord can enter the unit without notice if for practical necessity where repairs or maintenance elsewhere in the building unexpectedly require such access.

      As for the 30 day notice, landlords do not have to have a reason to evict a tenant. Landlords cannot retaliate or discriminate against a tenant. It is hard to tell from what you have said if the landlord is retaliating or discriminating.

      have you had a discussion with the landlord about allowing you an opportunity to stay. I might start there and find out what the landlord’s concerns are. the law in this case is a bit problematic. MTO is working to pass a just cause eviction ordinance which would require a landlord to state a reason.

  26. Hello I have a question. I been staying in the 15 apartment complex for almost 9 years. We have New owner for the building that I live in. How soon can the New owner go up on your rent & how much notice should they give the tenant before they go up. What is the minimum or maximum amount they can go up at one time.

    Are the New owner obligate to do what the old owner should had done. Like clean my carpet & paint my apartment.

    The new owner went up on my rent additional $75 dollars. Can I ask for updated appliance & cabinets.

    Thanks in advance for your help.

    1. If you are on a lease, the landlord cannot increase the rent until the lease is up. The landlord must give a 30 day written notice of intent to increase the rent on a month -to-month agreement. There are not limits as to how much a landlord can increase the rent.

      The new owner is obligated to follow all agreements. On a month to month agreement the new owner can change any of the rules by providing a 30 day notice. There are no rules regarding painting other than paint cannot be chipping or pealing especially if there is lead present in the paint. There are no rules regarding cleaning the carpets.

      A tenant is always allowed to ask for improvements and repairs. the landlord is not under any obligation to improve the property but the landlord does have to maintain the building up to the building code.

  27. Hey john,

    My name is jaquana and I moved into this apartment on December 9th and thought it would be ok but since I moved in I’ve been having problems, I wasent aware this building was an drug infested building along with Hugh bug infested problems. I have a 4 year old son who has asthma and roaches are known for being a trigger to start asthma attacks. What can I do to end my lease??? The building is dreg infested along with marjor roach problems I can’t take it any longer I’m paying rent and I’m trying to seek help the property manger have them come to exterminate but nothing seems to work if the whole building is infested.

    1. If a repair problem and roaches would be considered a repair problem makes the unit not reasonably fit and habitable then you can terminate the lease. I would start by getting a letter from your doctor stating that roaches are creating a health problem for your child. Then send the landlord a letter 14-day letter with the doctor’s note to terminate the lease if the problems are not remedied. You can use the Squaredaway.com app or contact our Healthy Homes Organizer at mangelica@tenants-rights.org

  28. Hi John,

    We have a lease in an 18 unit condo building in Chicago city limits that ends May 31. We’re purchasing our first home and closing the end of February. Our landlord (the owner of our condo) is planning on listing and selling the unit rather than re-renting and as such is making no attempts to find someone to take over our lease. We asked to break our lease the end of March, paying a full month’s rent when the unit will be unoccupied, but they’re insisting that we fulfill the lease and pay through the end of May. We also requested that we be allowed to sublet the condo, which they’re denying because the condo association doesn’t allow sublets.

    So, three questions:

    1) If they’re planning on selling rather than re-renting, does that fulfill the requirement for them to make an effort to find someone to take over the lease? It seems to us that this is not at all the same, but we’re unclear of the law.
    2) Do the condo association rules to not allow sublets override the Chicago RLTO in this case? Our lease does say that they must allow sublets, in conflict with the association rules.
    3) Any other advice on how to move forward? We’re trying to be reasonable and compromise while also being aware that we’re breaking the lease. They seem to be taking advantage of the situation to benefit their attempt to sell while collecting rent for as long as possible without otherwise renting the unit. It should also be noted that our offer on our new home was accepted over three weeks ago, we informed them immediately, and they’ve been dragging their feet on listing. The unit is still not listed nearly a month later.

    Thanks in advance for any info and advice!

    1. In answer to your questions, though I would add you should consult with an attorney as I am not an attorney.

      First did the landlord provide you with an up-to-date summary of the Chicago law. If not then you can terminate the lease by giving teh landlord a written notice stating that ordinance summary was not provided and therefore you can terminate the lease lease immediately and move out within 30 days. If you do not move out within 30 days then you will be lliable for the lease.

      The Chicago Ordinance as well as State law requires that the landlord try to mitigate your damages. 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. There is nothing in the law that states if a lnaldord wants to see the unit then they do not have to follow the law.

      Condo associations can overrule the RLTO but you do not have any agreement with the condo association. It is the landlord’s problem. The landlord still has to follow the Landlord and tenants ordinance.

      I cannot give you any legal advice. You can go ahead and find a sublet and then the landlord will have deal with the situation.

      1. This is all really helpful information! Thank you so much. For your first question though about providing us with an up-to-date summary of the law – is that something they needed to provide when we signed our lease, or something that they need to provide us with now that this situation has come up?

      2. When you sign your lease, a landlord must provide you with a summary of the Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenants Ordinance. Please check the fine print in the lease to make sure that you did not sign that you received it.

        One other possibility is did the landlord collect a security deposit from you? There are some strict laws landlords are obligated to follow and you landlord may not have followed them which could give you leverage to end your lease.

      3. The box was pre-checked for us that we received it, but it was included in the packet they gave us. However, the version they gave us was approved by the City of Chicago in July 2010 and it looks like there was an update to the summary in 2016, although the date is unclear. Likely after we signed our lease in April 2016.

        They did collect a security deposit from us, but I’m fairly certain they followed procedures for that – we have the address of where the deposit is held, interest rate, etc.

      4. Hey Ashley,

        What came about your situation? I am encountering the same dilemma with my Chicago landlord. For me, I have a good job opportunity out of state, and I have been told the condo association will not allow a sublease, and the owner is stating he wants to sell the unit and does not want another leaser. I feel like I am in an inescapable bind with perhaps some retaliation for wanting to end the lease early. If you respond, thank you!

      5. Did you landlord provide you with a summary of the Chicago Landlord and Tenants Ordinance. If not the law allows you to terminate the lease and move out within 30 days.

        A second option is to send the landlord a letter terminating the agreement and let the landlord know that you will be subletting the unit as allowed under the law. While the condo association amy not allow subletting, that is the landlord’s problem in that the Chicago law requires the landlord to accept all reasonable subletters. I wold go about finding a reasonable subletter. In the letter I would also let the landlord know that Illinois law requires that the landlord try and mitigate the tenants damages which means they have to try and re-rent the unit.

  29. Hi John,

    I moved into my apartment about a year ago and after moving in I noticed the apt needed alot of repairs. The lighting in my bedroom would just stop working, the plumbing was terrible. The tub would constantly get clogged. The kitchen sink was constantly getting clogged too. It just seemed like the entire apartment needed alot of repairs and when they did fix things it looked like they just cut alot of corners. Finally my tub would not drain properly and they came in and “fixed it” after 1 month of me requesting this and when I got back home they had broken the kitchen sink and the tub was ok for 1 week then back to the same issue. The kitchen sink started leaking and the cabinet below started molding and it ruined alot of my items and pantry. All the cabinets were in dire need of repair and again that took months. Finally he sent ppl to fix the sink and told me it would be completed in one day. I returned home from work to find it half done. I had asked for an extension on my rent due to financial issues before…so when I asked the landlord why it wasnt done he said it wouldnt be done until I paid the rent. The sink would not drain properly! It’s literally rotting the new cabinet they replaced at the bottom again! So they put a new one in to just let it mold all over again. I can only wash 3 dishes at a time before it cloggs again. I asked the landlord to fix it and she responded back 1 month later stating she was going to evict me for non payment. All the payments were in her bank account pending her approval not my fault at all. She also claimed the workers told her the job was complete. I sent her pictures and she said it was my fault for not using the sink stoppers. At this point the old cabinets are still there and the new one is in place but rotting. She stated they would not be putting in new cabinets ( they are diff colors to top it off). I was also asked to resign my lease in september when my current lease wasnt up until 12/1. I was told all these repairs would be done and its been 3 months and i never received a signed lease back. I signed it but never got the full copy back. My landlord has also entered the building without my permission and I have a witness. The other tenants are also very filthy. They leave rotten food in the common area and they leave their garbage outside in the back. I have seen alot of rats around there.I think they have a full on family of 5-6 in a small little apartment. I really dont know what to do, I just want to terminate my lease the apt is just so old and he even said my apt was the most outdated one. My landlord lives on site during the summer only but he did include the RLTO when i signed the first and second time. I withheld rent in hopes they would fix something 🙁 Please let me know what my options are.

    1. I am a little hesitant about the whether the Chicago Ordinance applies to your situation. I think there are some good arguments for it being covered as it does not seem like this is her residence though I am not sure how the law will interpret it as being a summer home. Do you know where she resides the rest of the year? Is she a resident of another state?

      If you want to move, the first step may be to write a letter to the landlord stating the repairs and that because the repairs and unsanitary condition of the property you would like to terminate the lease and get your deposit returned. You would like to do this in a way that benefits everyone. You can always call the City inspectors and get an attorney but it seems like an easier way is just to talk and work it out.

      If that does not work, then call the inspectors (plumbing, rodent patrol and any other problem.

      If you are behind in rent this may provoke the landlord to evict you. You may need to modify the strategy a little.

  30. Hello. I moved into a two flat with landlord living on first floor. She and the neighbors were basically bullying me. She was certain I had been doing things I did not do to the building. The neighbors led her to believe I was up on the roof installing a flood light?! (Light that had clearly been there for decades.) She called me a liar when I tried to explain I wouldn’t do that and was honestly confused. It was a hopeless situation; and she hated my work schedule and the sound of my cats on the floor, so we agreed that I should move out and that she would return my security deposit. I loved the apartment but moved in consideration of her age, 90s, and my own self preservation 5 months into the lease. We had a verbal agreement that she would return my security deposit after I moved. I moved on October 7, 2016. She still has not returned my security deposit. Do I have any rights as the tenant of an owner occupied 2 flat? I believe the woman is dealing with dementia. There is also a realtor involved who benefited from me renting the space and then having me move out and then renting it out again. It seems like a con to me. I’ve been unable to get help from the realtor in this matter. Please advise. Thank you for providing this service.

    1. The security deposit laws governing owner occupied buildings are not that helpful to your situation. You mentioned that you and the landlord came to an agreement that you would move out and the landlord would return your security deposit. Do you have documentation that the landlord made this agreement? A written agreement would be best but any communication mentioning the agreement would help. Did the realtor know of the agreement. Was there any written communication regarding the reasons that you left? Have you written the landlord a letter asking for the deposit? These would all be helpful.

  31. Hi! Is there a resource for the rules and responsibilities of a landlord in an owner occupied two-flat? I realize it’s not covered by RLTO but there must be some regulation or rules right?

    1. The are rules and regulations. Landlords still have to obey all the applicable building code ordinances and laws. Landlords cannot evict tenants without a court order. There are state laws that may be applicable. Do you have a specific question?

      1. Thought I’m not the asker of the original question, I’m glad it was asked. I *do* have a specific question. I live in an owner-occupied 3-flat. The owner retired 2 years ago. Last year was the first time he decided to spend winters elsewhere, coming home for 2-3 days each month. When he decided to embrace this new lifestyle, he told me he expects me to shovel the snow. I resisted because I am middle-aged and have long-term injury and urged him to ask our neighbor for help. He did so, offered to pay him but never did. This year he is following the same pattern. The night before he left, earlier this week, he informed me that he left a shovel (presumably for me) plus a bag or two of salt. When I asked him who he’d hired to shovel this year, he told me he expects me to shovel, but I resisted again. When he called the neighbor the next morning, she told me that he asked her again as well, but she, too, declined. He left without making arrangements. I noticed this snowy weekend that the tenant downstairs shoveled the sidewalk and the path to the house, but I use the back/garage because I drive, and that hasn’t been cleared (the path to the garage and the area in front of the garage/alley. What do you suggest I do? Thank you in advance.

      2. There are not clear enforcible rules regarding snow removal particularly as it pertains to sidewalks and pathways on private property. Given that situation, I might start by getting a note from a medical person about your injury and the risk associated with shoveling snow. You best would be to make this into an accessibility issue. I do not see any easy solution.

  32. Hello John,

    In June 2016, I signed a lease with 2 other roommates for a year (lease ends May 2017). In September 2016, I asked my landlord if I could sublet my room because I got a new job offer and had to relocate. She said yes and allowed me to move out. My roommates were upset that I decided to sublet, so they met with my landlord separately without my presence and complained. As a result, the landlord asked me to return my keys to her (I thought it was part of the sublease process so I did, then after two weeks, I asked for my keys back and asked why they took them from me, the landlord said my roommates complained about me not locking the door when I moved out, so they decided to confiscate them from me, is this a violation?).

    Then I noticed that the two individuals who wanted my sublease were not allowed to apply for the apartment until they met BOTH of my roommates and if my roommates were interested and they thought the person was the “perfect fit” they would get to choose if the person would get the sublease or not. I have been paying for two months rent without living or having any possessions in the apartment and my roommates continue to refuse every person that wants my sublease, the landlord also refuses to give anyone an application until my roommates decide yes or no. Additionally, one roommate is always unavailable 6 days/week for apartment viewings, so I am not even allowed to move at the pace I want.

    I asked if I can break the lease. Landlord said no because my roommates are also part of the lease.

    Any recommendations?

    1. The law states that landlord and your roommates must work to mitigate your damages. You might want to start with a letter to the landlord and the tenants stating that you do not feel that they are making a reasonable effort to re-rent the unit as required by law and thus your obligation to continue paying rent is over.

      Secondly, if the owner does not live on the premises, did the owner provide you with a summary of the landlord and tenants ordinance. If not then you can terminate the lease with a letter and then you would not have to pay the rent.

      Did you provide actual written notice to the landlord that you do not intend to return to the premises? If not you can also argue that you have been locked out of the unit because the landlord took your keys and has not returned them. You could demand a key to the unit. If you are paying rent for the unit then you need to have access to the unit.

      If you quit paying rent, the landlord or the tenants could take you to court and sue. There are probably several different arguments that you could make though I would talk with an attorney if you choose this route.

  33. I just moved into a room in an apartment (one floor of a two-level house) with two other roommates this past month. My landlord is an attorney. When I visited his office to sign my lease, the lease itself was in extremely fine print, and he only gave me the first page to sign (without letting me read the entire lease). When I asked him about the other pages, he sarcastically/belittlingly asked me if I wanted to read the rest of the lease while he pulled out a few more pages of the rest of the lease from BEHIND his desk. (So, he didn’t give me all the pages to sign to begin with.) Because his tone was so belittling, I signed the lease and he told me he would send me a copy after my roommates all signed it.

    After moving into the apartment, I have noticed several things that need fixing. My shower pressure is extremely low, and whenever the hot water is on, the pipes screech extremely loudly. Additionally, the floor has broken tiles/broken wood – definitely a safety hazard. The sink in the kitchen is leaking and the cupboard underneath the sink is covered in moldy newspaper. The apartment feels stuffy as there is no airflow through the apartment – all the windows are blocked with a plastic screen.

    Because the landlord does not live in this apartment (the other apartment in this house is filled with other tenants) and this is a two-apartment building, it doesn’t seem as if I am covered under the RLTO. Based on my experience so far, my landlord has been pretty unresponsive. He only gave me his office number and it’s been difficult for me to contact him because of his unavailability. Additionally, I still have not received a copy of the lease. What are my rights as a tenant in this situation??

    1. If the landlord does not live on the premises, then your unit is covered by the Chicago Landlord and Tenants Ordinance. The landlord should have provided you with a summary of the Ordinance. I am not sure what you and your roommates want to do so thus is is hard to let you know what your rights are in this situation. Do you want to get things fixed? Do you want to move? Do you just want a copy of your lease?

  34. How can I go about getting my security deposit back if I lived in a four-unit building? I moved from Chicago to Los Angeles in May of 2015, and my previous landlord is still ignoring me. I tried to get an attorney, but they said that the Chicago law does not cover units of 4 or less. Does this mean that my landlord is allowed to steal my security deposit? Also, it was a verbal lease. I have the copy of the check that he signed as my security deposit, and I have all of the texts of him saying that he would give me half of my deposit. However, a few months ago he started ignoring me. Also, I received no receipt of repairs.

    1. First I want to make sure that the landlord lives on the premises. If the landlord does reside there then even if the buildings is only four units it is covered by the landlord and tenant law.

      If the unit is not covered then you may very well have to file a law suit against the landlord to get your money returned. The is no governmental agency that enforces the law. For owner occupied units not covered by the Chicago Ordinance, small claims court is probably the best venue. Small claims court means that you will have to return to Chicago to go to court. It is hardly worth the time and effort to make a special trip. Do you come to Chicago for any reasons. It may be possible to set a date and time for when you will be here.

      Other than that, you can always write negative reviews of the owner on various online publications. You could try and get friends and family to pressure the landlord to return your deposit.

  35. I moved into my owner occupied 3 flat, 10/15, with my 12 yo twins. My landlord seemed to be a reasonable, decent person. My 2nd or 3rd night, there was a roach crawling on my face, then one in my bed, the following night. I notified my landlord, and he pretended to be baffled. I got a used refrigerator a few days later and continued to see roaches.
    , so we thought they could be coming from the fridge…because I was seeing them now in the kitchen and not the rest of the house. The landlord told me what to buy, which was a roach bait, from the store. I purchased that along with a spray and started the process of exterminating. I went to put the roach bait where he tod me I should and guess what?! I saw old roach bait in the same areas… Indicating there was a pre exsisting problem with roaches. Then I found a dead mouse in my cupboard… What? He continued to come up with excuses to minimize the bug and rodent issue. Meanwhile my master bathroom had brown rusted water coming from it… He made an excuse for that. Well in addition to all of the issues I was having, there was frequently no lights in my hallway… No screens in the windows he was demanding my children take their shoes off when they came in, to prevent the carpet from getting dirty. I was in a 6 month lease and he asked me to sign another one and I didn’t. I set a move date for 7/1, but couldn’t find a place. I moved out on 8/7 but had things still here came back on 8/11 after he told me that he through my things out. I called the police used my key and se my things were still in ten kitchen, he followed me throughout the apartment and the refused to let me go past the living room. After about 30 minutes ( we are still waiting on Chicago police) he went into the kirchen and began to throw my things out of the house. I videotaped him refusing to let me get my things, blocking me from the kitchen, he is on video telling me to leave, none of my stuff is there and I have footage of him throwing my things out of the house. The less than helpful police did come and told him that he could not evict me, he would have to take me to court. Am I not protected because it is an owner occupied 3 flat? Can he throw my things out and damage them the way he did? There are also things missing from my apartment.

    1. Lock outs are illegal in all residential rental units whether or not they are covered by the Chicago Ordinance. In this case, the police should have stopped the landlord from throwing your stuff out. In fact the police could have and should have arrested the owner if he did not stop.

      If you are missing items, I would make a police report. You could make a police report about the illegal lockout and the theft. You can sue the landlord for the lockout. An attorney may take the case, it seems like you will have some good evidence.

  36. The section of the Ordinance titled “WHAT RENTAL UNITS ARE COVERED BY THE ORDINANCE? {MUN. CODE CH 5-12-010 & 5-12-020}” states that “Owner occupied co-ops and condominiums” are not covered by the Ordinance.

    I was confused by this.

    I am renting a condo unit in a building that (from what I understand) is occupied mostly by other condo owners. From my understanding, however, my unit is not “owner occupied”, since the owner is renting his unit to me.

    Is my rental covered by the Ordinance or not?


    1. Condo units that are rented are covered by the law. Each condo would be considered a single unit. As an FYI, tenants need to follow condo rules which in some cases can override an agreement. For instance, a tenant can pay the rent to the owner on time. If the owner does not pay association fees, the condo association can go to court and evict both the owner and tenant.

  37. I live in a Chicago 2 flat. The owner has a “bachelor pad” in the basement. He might sleep there a couple nights a week. The lease lists his address in his suburban home but the receipt uses the Chicago building’s address. He also owns two out of state properties and is gone for several months/yr.

    Does this mean I am covered under the ordinance?


    1. That is a tough question to answer. I would consult with an attorney. If the landlord stays there 3 days per week it may be difficult to say it is not owner occupied.

      1. Thanks for your response. The landlord just handed me a new lease (7/29) and the old lease is up on August 1.

        If the unit is not covered by the LTO, does the landlord still have an obligation to give more than a couple of days notice?

        The copy of last year’s lease did not mention what happens at the end of the lease. The new copy he just handed me gives him the right to double the rent on a daily basis until I move. This page was missing from my copy of last year’s lease.

        I don’t want to sign for another year. I believed (until today) that I would have a month to month lease since he didn’t notify me in advance. Any thoughts?

        Thank you.

      2. If you are not covered by the Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance then when the lease is up it is technically up and no one has to give any notice unless the lease states it. If you do not like a lease clause then raise it to the landlord and ask the owner to delete it. Lease are negotiable. If you do not sign the lease then the landlord could potentially evict you.

  38. Hi,

    Beginning of June this year I moved out of a rented apartment in Chicago. I had lived in that apartment for almost 3 years. At the time I moved in, I had put in one month rent security deposit. My understanding is that per Chicago Landlord Tenant Ordinance, the landlord was supposed to provide me information about the interest bearing account in which the deposit was kept at the time of moving in the unit. The landlord had failed to do that.

    When I moved out of the unit the landlord conveniently deducted $ 300 from my deposit to cover normal wear and tear of the house. This has basically pissed me off. He just texted me how he came up with this number and never gave me a formal break-up for the repairs. In the past 3 years and even upon returning the balance portion of the deposit, he never paid me any interests. Please help me understand if the law requires the landlord to return double security deposit if they had failed to return the interests (however small they may be) in a timely manner. I am thinking about sending a letter to the land lord at the least.


    1. The only time a landlord does not have to follow the security deposit law is when the landlord lives in the building and it is less than 7 units. In almost all other cases the landlord must follow the law which means the landlord is liable for the penalties.

  39. John,

    I just moved into a unit and noticed an issue with the front and back doors to the unit. I didn’t notice this initially but the doors don’t have a dead bolt and they both are hollow core doors. My concern is two fold. A hollow core door provides little if an any resistance to a break in and they are not fire rated. The demising wall that separates the unit from the common area should have some sort of fire rated door by code.

    Is the landlord required to provide a deadbolt and fire rated door to the individual units. What should I do? I have asked if he will change out the doors with no response.


    1. The Chicago building code requires all doors leading to the outside have deadbolts or deadlatches and that they be solid wood or metal doors.

  40. I recently ended my 18 month lease with a homeowner who rented out the basement to me. Does this mean I am not as protected because I was the only tenant?
    I tried contacting landlord to give keys and show the apartment to and they were unable to be there. Though I cleaned the apartment I forgot to clean the oven door and the garbage disposal had stains inside it. I offered to clean again and was told it took a cleaner 4 hours to clean. Also I was going to be billed for them to bring out someone for the disposal.
    I also never got my interest after 12 months.
    Can you advise?

    1. If the owner lives in the home and it is less than six units then you are not covered by Chicago’s law. If the owner rents out the first floor unit then you are covered.

      First in regards to interest, if you are not covered by the Chicago Ordinance there is no requirement to pay interest unless it is written in the lease. You should look at your lease and see if talks about interest.

      As for the return of your deposit, The law requires a tenant to return it to the unit to its original condition less normal wear and tear. When you say there were stains on garbage disposal. What does that mean? The same for the oven door. If there is food stuck to the door of the oven then it would have been best to clean it. If the stains are heat stains and the result of normal use, then you may not be responsible.

      How much money has the landlord deducted from your deposit? You can file a small claims court claim in an effort to get your money returned. Do you have any photos of the unit after you left? the more documentation and witnesses that you have the better.

      You may want to start with a letter to landlord and may want to use MTO’s web app as a means of communicating. You can find the web app at http://www.squaredawaychicago.com.

  41. My apartments started leaking water from the ceiling over my bed and other areas in my room every time it rains/snows. It has almost been 2 months and the problem is not fixed. The owners of my unit had a roofer come out to fix the problem but they stopped him due to not being reimbursed because the building owner plains on fixing the entire roof. I asked my landlord for a rent reduction for this month but he has not responded to my email. This is currently rain season and my bed and floor are drenched in water due to the leakage.Do I have the right to withhold rent until the problem is fixed and what are my options. It is the 6th day of the month and I have not paid my rent yet.

    1. From your question, I am assuming that the landlord does not reside on premises. In this case the law does allow tenants to reduce the rent to reflect the diminished value of the unit. The law never allows tenants to not pay any rent. If you wish to use the rent reduction portion of Chicago’s rental laws, you might first provide the landlord written notification of the problem and inform the landlord if the problem is not fixed within 14 days that you will begin reducing the rent. MTO’s Squared Away rental web app can help with this process. You can find it at http://www.squaredawaychicago.com.

  42. I have just renewed my lease for another year, but I am thinking of moving out in the next few months. The problem is upstairs neighbor. My issue is that they are not quiet after 10pm. I wake up early and would love to go to bed around 9pm ( 10pm is absolute latest), but that’s never going to happen here, because even though my upstairs neighbor comes home around 7-8-9pm, they seem to revive at 10pm and they settle again well after 11pm ( they go to work in the mid-morn/noon). Yesterday, they settled at 1am. Space heater vibrating away, shoes, TV set, opening and closing drawers, closing cabintes, walking (read: stomping), conversations, getting on and off the bed, using bathroom – I can hear it all. Cooking smells and someone’s cigarettes and weed – those odors come into my apt thru vents. I’ve told my landlord many times that I don’t expect people to freeze at 10pm sharp and not do anything, but there has to be a limit to all that racket. If my landlord expects rent from me then I need to be functional to work and I am not. I also need my landlord to be a buffer zone between me and the neighbor and the advice I got is to “go talk to the lady”. Doesn’t work that way. My questions: is 10pm the legal cutoff time to cease excessive activity; does Ordinance cover these types of issues; when I am ready to move out, how much time and what notices should I give to my landlord; how should I document all the disturbances going on. But, basically, i just want to move out, so what would be the correct steps to do so. Thanks.

    1. Noise problems like the one you describe are very difficult to resolve. Have you had a conversation with the landlord about the problem? Have you asked the landlord to let you out of the lease? The noise is a code violation. I am not sure that the tenants are violating the ordinance. the noise ordinance is probably based on a decibel level. The question is would the police cite the upstairs neighbors for noise? In most cases the police cite people for noise when they have music or other electronic equipment on too loud.

      Have you talked with the upstairs neighbor? Sometimes that can resolve the situation.

  43. I moved into an owner-occupied, 2-flat building on October 1, 2012. There were minor repairs needed we my family viewed the apartment and we were told they would be taken care of. Upon moving into the apartment, the landlord told us that the Jacuzzi tub didn’t work after telling us twice that it did. Since my family has been in the apartment, we’re come across other issues in the apartment: sewer gas, a malfunctioning bedroom window, a malfunctioning back door lock, a bedroom door still missing, insect problems (spiders and house centipedes), solid wood cabinet fronts that fall on your feet if you bump the cabinet in the kitchen, a severely rusted medicine cabinet, and more. On October 21, I gave a letter to my landlord listing all the repairs and issues. He said he would work getting everything done. To date, he only repaired a broken drawer. We can’t take baths; since the jets of the tub don’t work, we can’t efficiently clean the tub. I have a 5-year- old daughter that I have to make take stand-up showers. What a mess it can be! Every time we ask the landlord when the repairs will start, he either says he’s contacting a handyman or contractor, or he’s waiting on an estimate. I feel like the landlord is giving us the run-around. At this point, I need to know if I can legally break my lease. From what I’ve read, I have the right to do so since the landlord is in noncompliance regarding maintenance and repairs. Can you help me understand my rights in this situation?

    1. The Chicago law states that a tenant can terminate a lease if the repairs in question make the unit not reasonably fit and habitable. There is no definition for reasonably fit and habitable. I am not in a position to judge that. If you choose to terminate the lease then you would need to put in writing the list of all the items that need repairs and give the landlord 14 days to make the make the repairs from the time of receipt of the notice. In the letter you will also need to let the landlord know that if the repairs are not completed that you will be terminating the lease because the unit is not reasonably fit and habitable. After the 14 days have passed and if the repairs are not completed then send a letter to the landlord stating you are terminating the lease immediately and will be vacating the unit within 30 days. If you do not leave within 30 days then the lease is remains in effect.

      1. John,

        Thank you for your quick response. I guess my new concern is can I legally break my lease, following the instructions you gave to me, since I live in an OWNER OCCUPIED 2-FLAT building? I read the Exceptions to the RLTO, and that’s where the confusion sets in regarding my rights as a tenant. Can you clarify the Exceptions so that I can move forward with the letter? I just want to make sure everything is in order, and I’m doing things by the book.

        Thank you again.

  44. John,

    1 month after signing my lease on September 2011, my wood floor started to buckle and the landlord had the buckled sheets removed. The flooring has not been reinstalled despite the fact that the black glue that is now exposed is causing me to have a headache every morning.

    I’ve asked numerous times about the floor being fixed only to be met with excuse after excuse as to why the issue isn’t being handled. When my lease was due to be resigned, I refused to sign without a guarantee that a new floor would be installed. It has now been an additional 2 months and I’m still getting excuses.

    I pay almost $1000 a month in rent and there should be no reason that this isn’t getting done!

    What can I do to force them to fix my flooring?

    1. Under the Chicago Landlord and Tenants Ordinance, a tenant may give the landlord a written notice demanding that the problem be fixed within 14 days of the receipt of the notice. If the repair is not made in that time period, the tenant can then go out and hire someone to make the repair and deduct the cost from the rent. In your case you could spend up to $500 to have the floor fixed. You will have to provide receipts.

      1. If it costs that much you will not be able to use the repair and deduct remedy. You might want to try reducing the rent. Once again you have to give the owner 14 days written to fix the floor and if it is not fixed then you can withhold a portion of the rent to reflect the diminished value of the unit.

  45. I lived in an owner occupied building with only 4 units. 45 days after we moved out we still had not received our security deposit back so I contacted him saying that since we had not heard from him after 30 days we were assuming we would be getting our full security deposit, and when could we expect it. He said that he does not have to follow CLTO. Is this true? If so are there any rules he does have to follow? After 45 days of no return he is now trying to deduct ridiculous charges.

  46. I live in a two-flat, owner-occupied building. What code DOES my landlord have to follow? There are multiple problems with the building that are seriously impacting my quality of life (sewer gas, rodents in common areas, common areas under continuous construction, etc.)

  47. I live in a building where the owner lives in houston, tx, but her son lives in the building basement and he collects rent and act as maintenance person. The building is a two part, one side is six units with basement and one is three units, it is connected but not connected. She is trying to tell me that she is exempt for the 5-12-020….however she still has laws to uphold correct? What laws should I tell her she has to uphold? She is trying to charge me a $10 late fee per day if I am late. Well she did charge me $10 and i was stupid enough to pay it. I need to let her know that I will not tolerate her slave mentality!

    1. I would talk with an attorney and with other tenants to see if they have been charged the fee. The building does not sound owner occupied to me. If you want to know for sure you would have to go to the recorder of deeds to see if her son is also an owner of the property.

  48. I am considering suing my former landlord for a number of violations of the Chicago Landlord Tenant Ordinance, one of which is their failure to return my security deposit to me in full including interest. There are a number of issues that complicate things a bit or else I would just represent myself. Is there someone who is reading this who could recommend a good attorney for consultation? Thanks so much!

  49. I rented a condominium unit from the owner and she failed to return the security deposit. It was not in an owner occupied building. Does the RTLO return period and damages provisions apply? If not, what law should I turn to?

  50. I live in an owner-occupied two-flat and my landlord is trying to deduct “cleaning fees” from the security deposit. What recourse do I have if I left the apartment in spotless condition?

    1. It is the tenants responsibility to return the unit to its original condition minus wear and tear. Cleaning fees could potentially be a part of that. My first question is how well can you document that you left the apartment in spotless condition? Did you take any photographs? Did anyone else witness the condition? Does the landlord have receipts from a cleaning service? The main problem with living in an occupied unit is that there are no penalties if landlord violates the law and attorney fees may not be included if you win. If you have any documentation you might want to start with a letter to the owner stating that you left the unit in the same or better condition than when you took it.

  51. Hi,
    I live in an owner-occupied 3 unit building. My landlord had us sign a Chicago’s RLTO Apartment lease even though it is only a 3 unit building. Does this mean that the RLTO applies because they volunteered that form as our agreement?

  52. I live in an owner occupied apartment building with fewer than 7 apartments. What rules apply to my landlord with regard to providing heat to my apartment.

      1. John,

        You seem to have dealt with a lot of landlord issues. I too live in an owner occupied building. She however attached the RLTO as part of the lease that we signed. My landlady wants me to remove some of my items from the yard. Is she required to provide storage? Also, can I counter her argument with the fact that she has her items in places I could have used for storage? I live in the upstairs floor and her things are in the unit storage closet and in the back of our unit.
        Finally, she believes my boyfriend has keys to the building and washes his clothes here (laundry is included), both of which are untrue. He is here alot, because I let him in. She wants me not to have him over any more. Can she impose this legally?

      2. What does the lease say about the yard? Does it say that you can store things there? How long have you stored things in the yard. If the lease allows you to keep things in the yard the owner cannot suddenly change the rules. Is there some compromise that you can work out. Why does the landlord want you to remove the stuff.

        As for the owner’s property in your unit. Once again what does the lease state about it. If the lease is silent then you have the right to ask the landlord to remove the property of ask for a storage fee.

        As for not allowing your boyfriend on the premises, once again what does the lease state? Can the landlord ban someone from the property and for what reason.


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