PHOTOS: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Chicago Rental Housing

Chicago’s current 311-reporting process does not work to protect renters against their slumlords. A mandatory rental housing inspection program with strong enforcement power is imperative for Chicago and the health of its communities. Below is a brief photographic summary of the conditions MTO witnesses on a regular basis.

Low-income renters experience higher rates of disease than their higher income counterparts. In my work as a healthy homes organizer, it has become strikingly clear why.

We have entered hundreds of apartments over the past few years and in them,  seen deplorable housing conditions that were the direct cause of a child’s disease which brought us to that apartment in the first place. For some unconscionable reason, the landlord chose not to invest the money needed to maintain the apartments in a livable condition and the city was often unresponsive to calls for help from the parents of these sick children.

Because of decades of activism, the City of Chicago has set up a system that is helpful to parents whose children have been lead poisoned. But – children are still the proverbial ‘canary in the coal mine’ in the vast majority of cases. There is no program in place to prevent kids from lead poisoning and in particular, the most vulnerable children suffer.

There are even fewer controls in place for other healthy homes issues such as cockroach and rodent infestations, and mold problems. As of right now, there is little help in place for renters enduring unhealthy housing and absentee landlords. These conditions can be particularly harmful to children with asthma and other respiratory ailments. In most cases, especially in today’s economy, parents do not have the option to pick up and move. Instead, they make the difficult choice of having a roof over their family’s head or watching their kids suffer from their illnesses that are exacerbated right in their own home.

There needs to be programs with strong enforcement mechanisms for these families to turn to in order to correct these grossly negligent – and sometimes criminal – building code violations. Children living in unhealthy housing will suffer the effects of environmental injustice for the rest of their lives. This fact has been repeatedly proven and documented in numerous medical and public health academic journals. A recent Shriver Center report demonstrates how socioeconomically-integrated, safe, affordable housing offers children access to good schools, stability, and the health necessary to achieve their potential.

MTO is calling on Chicagoans to support a mandatory inspection program that would identify healthy homes issues and force landlords to maintain their buildings according to the Chicago building code requirements.

Sign the CHHIP Petition

 

If you are having Healthy Homes issues in your apartment, contact MTO’s Hotline for assistance at 773-292-4988, or notify your landlord directly online at Squared Away Chicago.  

If you would like to join the CHHIP campaign, contact Sheila at 773-292-4980 ext 231, or via email at sheilas@tenants-rights.org.

Warning: Some of the following photos are graphic and may be disturbing for sensitive viewers.

 

 

Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(b) to supply necessary or agreed services;

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

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

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

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

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

(h) in case of emergency.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

failure to supply screens where required by the municipal code;

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

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

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

failure to prevent the accumulation of stagnant water;

failure to exterminate insects, rodents or other pests;

failure to supply or maintain facilities for refuse disposal;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Radon – FAQ

What is radon?
Radon is a radioactive, colorless, odorless, dense, tasteless noble gas, occurring naturally in soil.

How does radon get into homes?
Radon gas forms naturally in the soil in the Midwest. When the gas is produced, it simply rises up through the ground and is released into the natural environment.
However, when homes are built in or on soil emitting radon, instead of the gas rising up through dense soil, radon gas chooses the path of least resistance – normally through the floors or wall of the first level of the home – the basement. Depending on how the home was built and how ventilated the basement is, levels of radon can fluctuate.

Why is radon dangerous to human beings?
Radon has been classified as carcinogenic by the US EPA. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer – first being smoking. People who are exposed to both radon gas and smoke (first or second-hand) have a multipled risk of developing lung cancer.
Most radon-induced lung cancers occur from low and medium dose exposures in people’s homes.

Why are basements the most likely place to find radon gas? Why not in my second floor apartment?
Radon gas comes from decay of radioactive substances that are ubiquitous in the Midwestern soil. Because basements and first floor units are most often the first point of contact between soil (the source of radon gas) and the building, this is where radon normally enters the building.
Radon gas is also far more dense than “air.” Helium is lighter and less dense than air and therefore balloons filled with it fly away and up into the sky if not held down. Radon is heavier than air. For that reason, it sinks below lighter “air” to remain in our basements and lower level units. The more time someone spends in a unit/basement that has radon gas, the more exposure that person receives.

How do I know if my family and I are being exposed to radon gas?
If you live in the basement or first floor of a building, it is likely that you are being exposed to radon gas. The risk goes up if the building was poorly built, is poorly maintained and/or is poorly ventilated. There is no safe level of radon but minimizing exposure can reduce you and your family’s risk of lung cancer.
If you live in a second floor unit or higher, it is unlikely that you and your family are being exposed to significant levels of radon in your home.
The only way to know for sure is to test your living space(s).

Is there a test for radon?
Yes. Tenants, landlords, and homeowners have an easy and affordable option to test the level of radon in their home. Air Chek Inc. has sold over 4,000,000 radon tests worldwide. The Illinois Department of Public Health referrals for the test kit get the customer a major discount, which normally costs $14.95.
Those interested in purchasing the radon test can access the discount by phone, online, or through the mail. With the discount, each kit is $6.95. Call 800.247.2435 and ask for the Illinois discount or go online to il.radon.com for online or mailing instructions. Each test kit ordered includes the testing kit itself, testing instructions, shipping to and back, cost of lab work and reporting of results to you.

Bed Bugs – FAQ

What are bed bugs?
Bed bugs are small, wingless insects that feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals. Bed bugs prefer human blood, but can also feed on pets if people aren’t present.

Are bed bugs disease carriers?
There isn’t any medical evidence that bed bugs pose any sort of health risk. Some people do, however, experience mild reactions to their bites. It is also possible for the bites to result in secondary infections if scratched.

How did I get bed bugs?
A bed bug infestation is not an indicator of a lack of cleanliness. Bed bugs feed on blood and are attracted to CO2. They may have hitchhiked onto your belongings and into your home or, if you live in a multi-unit building, they may have traveled from an adjacent unit.

So, there really isn’t any link between bed bugs and sanitation?
None. Bed bugs are not attracted to filth nor do they feed on it. However, reducing clutter is extremely important as clutter can provide hiding space for bed bugs. Bed bugs will thrive in cluttered environments because the effectiveness of your pest control plan will be limited.

I have a bed bug infestation. What do I do?
Around the House

-Reduce clutter in the home. These are safe havens for bed bugs.
-Vacuum frequently.
-Wash clothes in hot water and dry in high heat for a minimum of 20 minutes.
-Do not apply pesticides on your own. Applying pesticides should be left to licensed pest control professionals.
-Never use bug bombs or total release foggers. These can worsen the infestation and are extremely harmful to your health.

Beds and Furniture
-Steam clean your bed and other furniture at a heat of 120 degrees or more.
-Encase your mattress and box spring with bed bug proof mattress protectors.
-Do not apply pesticides to your bed or other furniture. Pesticides are often harmful to people.
-Do not throw away your furniture until a pest control professional tells you that it can’t be salvaged.
-If you must throw away your bed or other furniture, please dispose responsibly. Render the furniture unusable by slashing all sides or spray paint “bed bugs” in large letters.

Remember, bed bugs and their eggs absolutely cannot survive temperatures higher than 130 degrees Fahrenheit.

Is my landlord responsible for ridding my unit of bed bugs?
On June 5, 2013 Chicago alderman passed an ordinance on bed bug control.  The ordinance requires eradication to be performed by a pest control professtional as many times as necessary to eliminate the reported problem.  Click here to read the full ordinance.  

The City of Chicago has recently been named the nation’s #1 city infested with bed bugs.  Everyday MTO’s tenants’ rights hotline receives calls from renters throughout the City and suburbs dealing with the pesky pests.  Bed bugs are not unique to Chicago.  They are undoubtedly a nuisance and hard to control.  Controlling bed bugs requires tenants and landlords working together. There are key components of the ordinance that all renters should know.  Let’s start with landlord responsibilities:

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

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

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

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

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

My landlord won’t accept responsibility. What should I do?

You can call MTO’s Tenants’ Rights Hotline to speak with a hotline counselor about your situation. The hotline is open Monday through Friday, 1pm – 5pm. If you live in a building with 12 or more units and other renters in the building are living with bed bugs, you may also request a visit from an organizer who can assist you in getting your requests met by your landlord.

Learn more about tenant remedies for pest infestation here

Have bed bugs in your apartment building? What is your landlord doing about it?

Action Alert: Save Renters’ Security Deposits!

*UPDATE* The subcommittee meeting has been rescheduled for Wednesday, June 16th at 10am at City Hall. Meet on the 2nd floor.

*UPDATE* MTO has learned that the subcommittee meeting scheduled for Monday has been canceled. Check back soon for updates.

On Monday, May 24th, at 10am, Alderman Shiller’s newly formed subcommittee will be hearing testimony from landlords and tenants regarding the two amendments that were considered at the Building Committee meeting in April. The subcommittee meeting will be held at City Hall, on the 2nd floor, in room 201A.

The first amendment, proposed by Alderman Stone, would circumvent the current penalties landlords face for not paying security deposit or interest back to the tenant. If this amendment were to pass, landlords would face absolutely NO penalties for violating the all the security deposit laws set forth in the Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance. Once the landlord has violated their tenants’ rights, then the tenants would be required to remind their landlord that their rights have indeed been violated – in writing, and only then could the tenant even consider pursuing other legal remedies.

The second amendment, proposed by Alderman Shiller, allows landlords who miscalculate interest to be given a second chance to correct the problem before facing legal penalties. This amendment would protect landlords who make innocent mistakes from frivolous lawsuits while simultaneously keeping loopholes closed for bad landlords who intentionally violate their tenants’ right to their own money. MTO is in support of Alderman Shiller’s amendment. Alderman Stone’s amendment does not differentiate between good landlord and bad landlords.

There are more tenants than landlords in the city of Chicago and on May 24th, we want the Alderman on this subcommittee to hear tenant voices. MTO is looking for renters to testify about their rental experiences to this subcommittee. If you want to speak out or have your story told, please contact Loreen Targos at 773.292.4980 x 231 or by email at loreen@tenants-rights.org.

Renters Win Round 1

Round 2 is on Monday, May 24th.

Tenants and activists gathered in the second floor lobby of City Hall Tuesday April 27th before the Building Committee meeting to express their support of Mayor Daley’s amendment to hold banks accountable for tenants’ security deposit in the case of foreclosure. Among them was Peter Mclennon, representing Cook County Clerk David Orr (the Residential Landlord and Tenants Ordinance sponsor in 1986). He urged rejection of the Chicagoland Apartment Association’s amendment being put forth by Alderman Stone. According to Charlotte Starks, a tenant and hotline counselor, “Security deposits being kept by landlords is as prevalent as domestic abuse, in that it does not have a face, does not have a color, it doesn’t have an address. It’s done city-wide, in all of the wards.”

Following the press conference, participants went to room 201A to prepare to testify before the Buildings Committee. The presence was so large that the meeting was moved to the City Council Chambers to accommodate everyone.

Alderman Shiller started the hearing by proposing a subcommittee that would be able to address problems brought forth by landlords and tenants. Alderman Stone chose to hear all testimony from landlord and tenant groups. Approximately 30 people testified to the committee, including Joel Rivera, a tenant turned volunteer counselor for MTO’s Renter’s Rights Hotline, testified “By providing the LL with a 14 day notification prior to any lawsuits regarding the deposit, its basically contradicting a law that the landlord should already know. Upon signing a lease, the landlord is obligated to the RLTO to provide each tenant with a copy of the ordinance summary. So off the bat, the landlord should already be responsible for what his rights are towards the tenant.” John Bartlett, Executive Director of MTO, explained MTO’s desire to work with good landlords on their concerns with the law while simultaneously ensuring loopholes are not opened in the current law that would make it easier for bad landlords to take advantage of their tenant’s money.

Three hours later, after everyone had had their say, Alderman Latasha Thomas stated her support of forming a subcommittee to resolve the issues brought up by those that had testified. Alderman Hairston believed a happy medium could be found between landlords and tenants in a subcommittee. Deputy Commissioner Ellen Sahli explained Mayor Daley’s proposal, specifically that his proposal does not tip the delicate balance in the RLTO away from landlords – instead, it would only affect lien holders, such as banks and only in the case of a foreclosure. Deputy Commissioner Sahli stated her support of a subcommittee and her opposition to Alderman Stone’s amendment.

Chairman Stone explained that his intent with the amendment was to “correct the rigidity of the ordinance.” Alderman Shiller responded that she wanted to address this, but that the “14-day cure” changes economic incentives and changes consequences to landlords if they do not follow the security deposit law as written. Chairman Stone responded that he did not want to be a block on the Mayor’s ordinance. The Buildings Committee then voted unanimously to pass the Mayor’s ordinance onto the full council without any amendments attached. The two amendments will be considered in the new subcommittee headed by Alderman Shiller.

Alderman Shiller’s subcommittee is tentatively scheduled for Monday, May 24.  The committee will continue to look at the amendments proposed by Aldermen Stone and Shiller.  It is important for renters to continue to come attend hearings as we expect the Chicagoland Apartment Association to continue to press for a weakening of Chicago’s ordinance.  Tenants need to inform the alderman of problems they face with security deposits.  If you are interested in testifying at the next hearing please contact  Loreen Targos at 773-292-4980 x 231 or by email at loreen@tenants-rights.org.

Apartment Conditions and Repairs – FAQ

NOTE: If your landlord lives in your building, see the “Exceptions” note on the right side of this page.

What is my landlord responsible for?
Your landlord has a duty to keep your apartment in good shape and make all necessary repairs. If she fails to do this, you may be able to:

  • Make the repairs yourself and deduct their cost from your rent;
  • Withhold a portion of your rent;
  • Sue your landlord; or
  • Terminate your lease agreement. This pamphlet explains when and how you can do these things.

What must my landlord do to maintain the condition of my apartment?
Keep your toilet, bathtub, shower, and bathroom sink in good working order;

  • Keep your furnace and boiler in good working order;
  • Keep your windows weatherproof;
  • Keep your floors, walls and ceilings in good repair;
  • Keep your plumbing fixtures in good repair;
  • Keep your electrical outlets safe and operable;
  • Prevent the accumulation of stagnant water;
  • Keep all of the appliances he supplies in good working order;
  • Maintain the building is foundation, exterior walls, and roof in good and watertight condition;
  • Provide adequate hall and stairway lighting; Keep all stairways and porches in a safe and sound condition;
  • Provide trash containers;
  • Protect you against rodents and insects by exterminating; and
  • Comply with all other requirements of Chicago’s Municipal Code.

If my landlord doesn’t make necessary repairs, can I use my rent to pay for these repairs?

Yes, but only if the repair will not cost more than $500 or one-half of your rent (which ever is greater). Using your rent money to make necessary repairs is called “repairing and deducting.”

How do I “repair and deduct?”
First you must give your landlord a written notice stating that, unless she makes the necessary repairs within 14 days, you will make them yourself and deduct their cost from your rent. Keep a copy of the notice. If your landlord doesn’t make the necessary repairs within 14 days of receiving the notice, you can make the repairs or pay someone else to do it. After giving your landlord paid receipts to confirm the cost of repair, you can deduct this cost from your rent. See sample letter here.

What if I want to repair a problem in a common area, such as a stairway or hallway?
You must first give all of the other tenants written notice of your plan to make the repair.

If my landlord doesn’t make necessary repairs, can I withhold a portion of my rent?
Yes, but first give your landlord a written notice stating that, unless she makes the necessary repairs within 14 days, you will withhold a certain portion of your monthly rent payments. NOTE: You cannot withhold a portion of your rent and “repair and deduct” in the same month.

If I decide to withhold a portion of my rent, exactly how much should I withhold?
The amount you withhold must reasonably reflect the reduced value of your apartment. Be conservative. You cannot withhold all your rent unless your apartment is in such bad shape that you must move, and you can rarely withhold as much as 50%. If you withhold too much, your landlord may be able to evict you for nonpayment of rent. To be safe, consult with an attorney. See “rent reduction” sample letter here.

Can I terminate my lease because my landlord has failed to make necessary repairs?
Yes, but only in very serious cases. Consult with an attorney first.

How can I terminate my lease?
First, you must provide your landlord with written notice that you will terminate your lease in no less than 14 days unless he makes whatever repairs are necessary. If she does not correct the problem within 14 days of receiving this notice, you may terminate your lease agreement. If you terminate the lease, you must move within the next 30 days otherwise your lease will remain in effect. See sample letter here.

If my landlord doesn’t make necessary repairs, can I sue him/her?
Yes, but consult with an attorney first.

Can I make my landlord pay for the cost of repairing a problem I caused?
No.

What if my landlord fails to provide me with an essential service (such as heat, electricity, or running water)?
See the page entitled Heat & Other Essential Services.

Does my landlord have to repaint my apartment?
Not unless the paint is cracking or peeling.

Can I sue my landlord if my property is damaged in her apartment?
Only if the property was damaged as a result of your landlord’s negligence.

Please Note: This information, published by the Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago and the Metropolitan Tenants Organization as a public service, gives you only a general idea of your rights and responsibilities under the Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance and other relevant chapters of Chicago’s Municipal Code. It is meant to inform, but not to advise. Before enforcing your rights, you may want to seek the advice of an attorney who can analyze the facts of your case and apply the law to these facts.

Still can’t find the answer? Send us your questions. Please allow several days for a response.