14 Important Rights for Landlords and Tenants in the City of Chicago

14 Important Rights for Landlords and Tenants in the City of Chicago

by E. Christopher Caravette

Although many landlord/tenant relationships are governed by a written lease, in the City of Chicago, The Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance also applies and controls the rights and responsibilities of both landlords and tenants.

Here are 14 things every landlord and tenant should know:

  • An oral lease and a written lease are both contracts and enforceable.  A written lease is always preferable, and one should take care to include all agreements (i.e., whether pets are allowed or whether smoking is allowed) in any written lease.
  • Every tenant is entitled to live in an apartment in compliance with all building codes and free of pests, mold, leaky ceilings, and with adequate heat and water.
  • If a repair problem arises, a tenant should advise the landlord in writing and request that the repair be remedied within 14 days.
  • A tenant is entitled to a receipt for any security deposit and is also entitled to know the name of the bank where the security deposit is being held.
  • A tenant is not relieved of the duty to pay rent if the property is in foreclosure.
  • A landlord may not enter a tenant’s apartment without first providing at least 48 hours prior notice, except in the case of an emergency.
  • A landord cannot retaliate against a tenant because a tenant complains to the City of Chicago or calls 311 to complain about repair issues.
  • Late fees cannot be outrageous.
  • A tenant may demand a rental receipt each time rent is paid, and is particularly advised to do so when rent is paid in cash.
  • To document repair problem in a court of law, a tenant must have photographs.
  • Upon moving out, a tenant must turn in all keys and is advised to get a receipt from the landlord.
  • A tenant should only be asked to pay for utilities that are used by the tenant within the apartment, and not for utilities for common area spaces.
  • Before filing a forcible action (for rent or for possession or both) a landlord must provide a tenant with a 5 day notice, a 10 day notice, or a 30 day notice, depending upon the situation.
  • A tenant is entitled to have an attorney to protect the tenant’s rights and assist with any court matters.

For a link to the full text of the ordinance, go to Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance.

(Note: The information in this article is intended to be general in nature. Plan to discuss your particular circumstances with an attorney for how this might apply to you.)