FAQ – Municial Code

Title 5 Section 12

Residential Lanlord and Tenat Ordinance

Important:  If you seek to exercise your rights under this ordinance, obtain a copy of the ordinance to determine appropriate remedies and procedures.  For more information, contact the Center for Renters’ Rights or consult your attorney.  For a copy of the Ordinance, visit the Office of the City Clerk, Room 107 at City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle Street or the Municipal Reference Library, Room 1002 at City Hall.

What is the Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance?

The Ordinance defines the rights, duties, obligations and remedies for both property owners and tenants. A copy of the Summary of the Ordinance must be attached to every written rental agreement or be given to the tenant who has an oral rental agreement.

What rental units are covered by the Ordinance?

All rental units with written or oral leases, except as noted below.

What rental units are not covered by the Ordinance?

Owner-occupied buildings with 6 or fewer rental units; units in hotels, motels, rooming houses, unless the unit is rented on a monthly basis and is occupied for more has 32 days; school dorms; shelters, employee housing nonresidential rental units and co-ops.

What are the tenant’s general duties?

The tenant, the tenant’s family and guests must comply with the obligations under the Municipal Code; maintain smoke detector batteries  in the unit, keep the unit safe and clean; use equipment and facilities in a reasonable manner; prevent damage; and avoid disturbing other residents.


Does the landlord have a right to enter the unit?

Yes, in the event of an emergency or where repairs require entry.  Entry by the landlord for any other reason require the landlord to give written notice 2 days in advance.

What are the landlord’s general duties?

The landlord must:

provide the tenant with written notice of the owner’s or manager’s name, business or home address and telephone number.

give new tenants and renewing tenants written notice of building code citations issued by the City  in the past 12 months and notice of pending Housing Court, Code Enforcement Bureau or Compliance Board action or notices of termination of water, electrical or gas service to the building.

maintain the property in compliance with all applicable provisions of the Municipal Code;

provide the tenant with at least 30 days written notice of his or her intention not to renew a rental agreement.  If the landlord fails to give the required written notice, the tenant may remain in the dwelling unit  for 60 days under the same terms and conditions as the last month of the existing agreement;

use a lease without prohibited conditions.  The landlord is prohibited from from forcing a tenant to renew a lease more than 90 days before the existing agreement terminates.

What if the landlord does not provide heat, running water, electricity, gas or plumbing?

If the landlord fails to provide essential services or maintain the building in as required by the Municipal Code, the tenant may:

  1. procure and pay for substitute service and deduct the cost from the following month’s rent. Note: The tenant must provide paid receipts for such service;
  2. file suit against the landlord and recover damages based on the reduced value of the dwelling unit;
  3. procure and pay for substitute housing and be excused from paying rent for that period. You may also recover the cost of substitute housing up to an amount equal to the monthly rent for each month or portion thereof;
  4. request, in writing, that the landlord correct the failure within 24 hours. If the landlord fails to do so, the tenant may deduct from the monthly rent an amount that reasonably reflects the reduced value of the premises;
  5. request, in writing, that the landlord correct the failure within 72 hours.  If the landlord fails to do so, the tenant may terminate the rental agreement.  Note:  If the tenant terminates the rental agreement, the tenant must deliver possession of the rental unit within 30 days or the notice of the termination is considered withdrawn.

Remedies 4 and 5 above may not be used if the failure to provide essential services is due to the utility provider.

What if the landlord does not maintain the property in reasonably fit and habitable condition?

Option 1:  The tenant may request in writing that the landlord make repairs within 14 days or the tenant may withhold an amount of rent that  reasonably reflects the reduced value of the unit.

Option 2:  The tenant may request in writing that the landlord make repairs within 14 days or the tenant may terminate the rental agreement after the 14 days.  If the tenant terminates the rental agreement,  he or she must vacate the premises within 30 days of the date of termination.  If possession of the apartment is not delivered within the 30 days, the tenant’s notice and the termination are then considered withdrawn.

Can the landlord charge a fee to sublet the apartment?

The landlord must accept a reasonable subtenant without charge or additional fees.  Under a sub-tenancy, the tenant remains liable for all legal conditions and agreements in the lease.

If the tenant moves prior to the end of the rental agreement, the landlord must attempt to re-rent the unit at a fair rent.  If the landlord re-rents the unit, the tenant may be liable for rent up to the time the new lease begins.


Can a landlord charge late fees?

The landlord may charge $10 per month late fee on rents under $500 and 5% per month late fee on the portion of rent over $500.

What if the landlord ignores requests for minor repairs?


The tenant may request in writing that the landlord make repairs within 14 days or the tenant may have the repairs made and deduct up to $500 or one-half a month’s rent, whichever is more, but not more than one month’s rent.

The repairs must be done professionally, in compliance with existing law and building regulations.  A receipt must be given to the  landlord and no more than the actual cost of the repairs can be deducted from the rent.

The tenant may also file suit against the landlord for damages and injunctive relief.

What are the tenant’s rights if there is fire or casualty damage to the building or rental unit?

As long as you, family members or guests are not responsible for the damage, you have three choices:

  1. You may move out immediately. If you decide to move immediately, you must provide written notice to the landlord of your intention to terminate within 14 days after moving out.
  1. You may stay in the unit if it is legal and safe to do so. If you stay and use of a part of the unit is denied because of damage, you may pay reduced rent to reflect the reduced value of the unit.
  1. If you stay, and the landlord promises to begin repairs but fails to diligently carry out the work, you may give written notice that you intend to terminate the lease and tenancy within 14 days.
1 Comment
  1. sandra dureke

    I don’t know if your guidelines apply to Hud housing, but I recently had to move from my unit because the ceiling in my living room fell down. Mind you I was being down-sized but this happened before my move date. I’ve asked on several occasions and even wrote a letter to management to have my furniture cleaned and my living room curtains replaced. Also I asked for new carpeting, as the carpetI have now is not fit for living. The previous ten ant had bed bugs several times and the carpet is about twelve years old with chewing gum matted into it and cigarette burns all through the apartment. It’s disgusting and I can’t wrap my head around not wearing shoes in here nor allow my two years old granddaughters to come over because toddlers and kids keep their shoes off. I’m really depressed about all this. I’ m a senior and just need help in getting what I deserve. So if you can help me or direct me in this matter, I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you, Sandra Dureke from Parkways

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