The Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance (RLTO) is a law that governs the rights and obligations of landlords and tenants in Chicago. The city established the ordinance in 1986, and it has since undergone several revisions.
The RLTO sets out specific standards for the rental housing market in Chicago, such as requiring landlords to maintain a certain level of habitability in their rental units, providing tenants with written notice of any rent increases or lease terminations, and prohibiting certain types of rental practices, such as retaliation against tenants for reporting code violations.
5 key provisions of the RLTO include:
1. Security Deposits
Landlords need to provide tenants with a written receipt for their security deposit and return it within a specific time frame after the tenant moves out. They must also provide an itemized statement of any deductions from the security deposit.
Landlords need to deposit the money in an FDIC interest-bearing bank, savings, or loan association in the state of Illinois. Security deposits must be held in a separate account and not commingled with other funds.
Keep in mind that the fines for security deposit violations in the RLTO are often two times the deposit plus interest. If you lose in court, you may also have to pay for legal fees.
Another option is to set up a non-refundable move-in fee that helps the landlord prepare for the tenant to move into the property.
2. Repairs and Maintenance
Landlords must maintain the rental unit in compliance with applicable building codes and ensure it is in a habitable condition. If a tenant reports a code violation, the landlord must remedy it within a reasonable time.
Keep in mind that landlords must provide 48 hours’ notice to enter the property unless in emergency situations (note: notice of entry should be sent to the tenant within 48 hours of the emergency entry).
The property must be habitable. In the City of Chicago, landlords need to disclose in writing to tenants any code violations from the previous 12 months and any notice of intent by the City of Chicago to terminate any utilities (those that are the responsibility of the landlord).
3. Rent Increases and Lease Terminations
Landlords must provide tenants with written notice of any rent increases or lease terminations within a certain time frame, depending on the length of the tenancy.
These laws are in the process of being updated now, but depending on the length a tenant has been in the property, you might need to provide up to 120 days of notice before terminating the lease.
Landlords are absolutely, without a doubt, prohibited from retaliating against tenants who exercise their rights under the RLTO, such as by reporting code violations or organizing a tenant organization.
The RLTO applies to most rental units in the city of Chicago, with some exceptions, such as owner-occupied buildings with six or fewer units and certain types of subsidized housing.
Remember that tenants who believe their landlord violated the RLTO may file a complaint with the City of Chicago Department of Buildings or pursue legal action in court.
Final Thoughts on the Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance
If you have questions about how to manage properties in Chicago while staying on the right side of the CRLTO, let us know how we can help. We manage properties in Chicago and can help ensure you comply with the Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance. Contact us today to set up a free 1-hour, no-strings consultation.