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. The Chicago Landlord Tenant Ordinance (RLTO) is the preeminent source of tenants’ rights law for those that live in the City of Chicago. To download a full copy. Most residential tenants in Chicago are protected by the Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance (“RLTO”), which grants many rights and remedies to .

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The Chicago rental market is highly regulated; landlords must obey city ordinances, state law, chicafo codes and federal law. Most relevant rights are provided by the RLTO, so that will be our focus here. We are only taking security deposit cases right now, but we have a large referral network. Click here to request rltoo referral. If you are interested in consulting a lawyer for representation in one of those areas, please contact us.

Chkcago of the RLTO Properties covered by RLTO Right to be free from unreasonable access Right to have the property maintained Right to a safe environment and essential services Right to vacate if there is fire or other casualty damage Right to fair treatment of security deposits Right to know the identity of the landlord or agent Right to notification of foreclosure action Right to notification of conditions affecting habitability Right to reasonable subleases Right to a fair rental agreement Right to be free from retaliation Right to be free from lock-out Right to a copy of the Summary of Chlcago Remedies for violation.

The City of Chicago is densely populated and many citizens live in residential apartments. Chicago is concerned with protecting the health and welfare of its citizens, so it enacted dhicago law to encourage landlords and tenants to improve the quality of housing available.

The ordinance also serves to set forth rights that cannot be overridden by a lease written by an overzealous landlord.

The RLTO protects the rights of most residential tenants and raises the standards for all. There are, however, some exceptions.

While a landlord may access a leased unit for legitimate reasons and upon proper notice, he may not harass the tenant, access the unit without a valid reason chicafo access the unit without giving proper notice. Under the RLTO the landlord must give the tenant notice of intent to enter at least two days before he intends to enter the unit. He must give the notice in good faith using a method reasonably likely to provide the tenant notice. The RLTO suggests that notice be given by mail, telephone or written notice posted on the dwelling.

The landlord may access the unit only during reasonable times, defined as 8: In these cases no prior notice or consent are required. After the landlord accesses the unit under these two scenarios, he must give notice to the tenant during the two days following the entry. If the landlord violates this provision of the RLTO the tenant has a choice of remedies.

He can get a court order commanding the landlord to cease making improper entry or the tenant can terminate the lease. The tenant may also be awarded the cost of his attorney fees. Landlords must maintain the premises in accordance with the law and must make repairs to the dwelling to keep it in compliance.

Though the list of potential violations is long, it is not all encompassing. The reality is that landlords cannot let their property fall into disrepair and rent out slum-like property.

Chiccago remedies provided for violation of the duty to maintain the property are among the most complicated in the RLTO and all tenants should consult with an attorney before attempting to exercise their rights as landlords often seek to evict or sue tenants when they do.

Give the chicagoo written notice of the acts or omissions that violate the RLTO or the lease and specifying that the lease will terminate 14 days after receipt of the notice if the landlord does not remedy the conditions. If the landlord does not fix the problem, the lease terminates and the tenant must vacate the unit within 30 days. The landlord must return prepaid rent, the security deposit and interest. If the landlord does not fix the condition, the tenant may have the repair made in a workmanlike manner at a reasonable price customarily charged for such work.

The tenant then may submit the paid bill chicabo the landlord and deduct that amount from the rent. This remedy is not available if condition was caused by the tenant or his family or guests.


If the tenant notifies the landlord of the deficiency in writing and the landlord fails to correct the condition within 14 days after notification, the tenant may deduct the reasonable reduction in value from the rent for as long as the deficiency exists.

This remedy is also not available if the condition was caused by the tenant, his family or guests. Damages and injunctive relief. The tenant may sue the landlord for damages or claim the material noncompliance as a defense.

Chicago Landlord Tenant Ordinance – Know Your Rights

The tenant may also obtain an injunction against the landlord. If the landlord violates the rental agreement or the municipal code and such violation causes an immediate danger to the health or safety of the tenant or if the landlord fails to supply heat, electricity, hot water, running water, gas or rlot, the tenant may:. If an apartment is damaged or destroyed due to a fire or other casualty causing it to violate the rental agreement or ordinances, the tenant may:. The landlord shall return prepaid rent, the security deposit and interest as well as any portion of rent attributable to a portion of the term after the casualty.

Sometimes landlords are unable or unwilling to provide their tenant with possession of an apartment at the time the lease begins.

Other times the landlord can deliver possession, but the unit is not in habitable condition. When a landlord does not deliver possession of the unit in habitable condition at the beginning of the lease term the rent abates and the tenant has two options:.

Chicago Tenants Rights

If the failure to deliver possession of the apartment was willful, the tenant may recover the greater of two months rent or the actual damages sustained. Thankfully, Chicago has very strict rules about security deposit abuse and any misconduct by a landlord can result in very severe consequences. The rules are numerous. Landlords must hold security deposits in an FDIC insured interest bearing account at a bank located in the State of Illinois. The tenant owns the interest earned on the security deposit.

Not only must the landlord keep the money in a separate account at a qualified bank, he must also tell the tenant about it. The RLTO mandates that the name and address of the financial institution holding the security deposit be listed on the written lease or, if there is no written lease, be disclosed to the tenant in writing within 14 days of receipt of the security deposit.

The landlord must also notify the tenant, in writing, if he transfers the security deposit to a different bank. This notification must take place within 14 days after the transfer and must disclose the name and address of the institution now holding the deposit.

When a landlord receives a security deposit from a tenant or prospective tenant he must give them a receipt that lists the amount of the security deposit, the name of the person receiving it, the name of the landlord, the date the deposit is received and a description of the unit.

Additionally, the person receiving the deposit must sign the receipt. There are slightly varied rules when the landlord receives the deposit by electronic funds transfer.

The RLTO also regulates the payment of interest. If the landlord holds a security deposit for more than six months, he must pay the tenant the interest on the deposit each year by cash or credit applied to rent due.

This interest must be paid or credited within 30 days after the end of each month rental period. This provision is one of the most commonly violated by landlords as they often omit paying interest on the deposit when a tenant renews his lease. The landlord must timely return the security deposit to the tenant after the tenant vacates the premises or notifies the landlord of intent to vacate the unit due to casualty damage.

The security deposit must be returned within seven days of notice when the tenant vacates for casualty damage and within 45 days of move-out in any other situation.

If the landlord is making deductions from the security deposit for damage to the unit, the landlord must take the following steps:. The RLTO also contains specific provisions for the transfer of the security deposit and prepaid rent when the ownership or control of the real estate is transferred. If the real estate is transferred the original landlord is still responsible for the security deposit and unpaid rent unless and until he transfers the deposit to the transferee and provides written notice of the transfer to the tenant.


The notice must be made within 10 days of the transfer of the deposit and specify the name, business address and phone number of the transferee or his agent. When the transferee receives the deposit or prepaid rent, he must deliver a written notification to the tenant. The notice must contain his name and his business address and business phone number or that of his agent.

The only exception to this rule is for the miscalculation not non-payment of interest. At or before the start of a tenancy, the landlord must disclose, in writing, the name, address, and telephone number of:. This information must be kept current and, if the landlord fails to make the proper disclosures, the tenant may terminate the rental agreement. An unfortunate reality of recent times is that many parcels of real estate, including rental properties, are falling into foreclosure.

When a landlord is served with a foreclosure complaint, he must notify the tenant and any third party that is regularly paying rent for the tenantin writing, that the foreclosure action has been filed. If the landlord is attempting to lease the apartment, he must also disclose the pending foreclosure action prior to the lease signing.

Regardless of whether the disclosure is made to current tenants or prospective tenants, the landlord must disclose the case name, case number, and specific statutory language letting the tenant know that they do not need to vacate at this time, that they have to continue paying rent, and that ownership has not changed. The landlord must notify the tenant that he is still responsible for his obligations under the agreement and that if there is a change of owner the landlord will notify the tenant.

If the landlord does not make the proper disclosure, the tenant may give written notice and terminate the agreement. Before an initial lease is signed or the tenant enters into a renewal agreement, the landlord or his agent must disclose the following:.

If the landlord violates this provision, the tenant may give written notice and terminate the agreement. Landlords in Chicago must allow their tenants to sublease.

The landlord can require that the tenant get his permission, but permission cannot be unreasonably withheld and the landlord may not impose additional fees or charges. If a tenant terminates a rental agreement without cause, the landlord must make a good faith effort to rent the apartment at fair rental value. If the landlord is able to sublease the unit, the tenant who terminated is only responsible to the extent that the landlord receives less in rent than he would have under the broken lease.

The following terms are not enforceable:. The above provisions are unenforceable and tenants may recover actual damages suffered if the landlord enforces them.

A landlord cannot retaliate against a tenant except for violation of the lease or violation of a law or ordinance. Retaliation includes, but is not limited to:. A landlord may specifically not retaliate against a tenant if the tenant did any of the following in good faith:. Retaliation is a defense in a lawsuit for possession and a tenant may also recover twice the rent or twice actual damages, whichever is greater.

The tenant may also recover reasonable attorneys fees and may either recover possession or terminate the lease. Retaliation is presumed if the protected conduct occurred within the year before the act of retaliation. This presumption is rebuttable. Illinois is not a self-help state. Landlords may not evict tenants on their own.

The sole remedy to gain possession of an apartment is to file a lawsuit for possession in court, obtain a judgment, and have the sheriff evict the tenant.

Historically landlords have attempted all manner of forcing tenants to leave apartments without going to court. The following actions are specifically prohibited:.

Violations on the prohibition of self-help are taken very seriously. The Commissioner of the Department of Housing and Economic Development has prepared a summary of the RLTO that must be attached to each rental agreement or renewal thereof. When there is an oral lease, the landlord must give the tenant a copy of the summary. As noted above, there are many remedies available to tenants when their landlord violates the law.