Over 60 percent of Chicago residents live in rental housing. As a result, the laws governing the landlord-tenant relationship are very important. The Chicago Landlord Tenant Ordinance governs a majority of the residential rental agreements within the city. The Ordinance places certain duties on both landlords and tenants.
What Does the Ordinance Do?
Generally, the Ordinance covers any rental units under written or oral leases. However, the Ordinance does not cover the following:
- - Units in owner-occupied buildings that have less than six units;
- - Units in hotels, motels, inns, or bed-and-breakfast establishments, unless rent is paid monthly and the unit is occupied by the tenant for more than 32 days;
- - Dormitories or shelters; and
- - Owner-occupied co-operatives.
The Ordinance requires that tenants abide by all of the obligations of the Municipal Code. Some of these duties include, but are not limited to, the following:
- - Maintaining smoke and carbon monoxide detectors (for example, by ensuring that working batteries are in the detectors);
- - Keeping the unit as safe as the conditions of the premises permits;
- - Avoiding disturbing other tenants; and
- - Not causing any damage to the unit.
Landlords are also placed under duties by the Ordinance. A landlord is required to maintain the property in compliance with the Municipal Code. This includes maintaining heating facilities, the structural integrity of the building, and the building’s plumbing system, among numerous other items.
Further, a landlord cannot require a tenant to renew a lease agreement more than 90 days before an existing agreement ends. Additionally, a landlord must provide a tenant with at least 30 days written notice if the rental agreement will not be renewed. If this required notice is not given, a tenant may remain in the unit for 60 days under the same terms and conditions as the last month of the existing agreement.
Remedies for Defects
If a property has a minor defect, a tenant’s first step to remedy the issue is to provide written notice to the landlord indicating that if the landlord does not correct the defect, the tenant will have the defect corrected at the landlord’s expense. The landlord has 14 days to correct the issue before the tenant can take action. The cost to correct the issue cannot be more than the greater of $500 or one half of the monthly rent. After 14 days, if the landlord has not taken corrective action, the tenant can have the repairs completed. The tenant can then submit to the landlord a paid bill and deduct the cost of the work from the rent.
For a material noncompliance to maintain the premises, a tenant may withhold rent in an amount that reasonably reflects a reduction in value of the premises as a result of that material noncompliance. This withholding of rent may continue for as long as the material noncompliance continues. However, the withholding can only begin after 14 days have passed since the landlord was given written notice of the condition.
If you would like more information about the rights and obligations of the parties involved in a residential rental relationship, you should speak with an experienced Illinois real estate attorney today. Whether you are a landlord or tenant, Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC can help. Our office proudly represents clients in the Schaumburg, Palatine, and Long Grove areas, among many others.
About the Author: Founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC, Colin Gilbert, received his J.D. from Chicago-Kent College of law in 2005. Colin argues cases across many practice areas including criminal defense, collections, civil litigation, real estate law, and corporate law. Colin is an active member of the Board of Governors of the Northwest Suburban Bar Association and the Illinois Creditors Bar Association. He is currently Vice President of the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce, and is a Commissioner for the Village of Arlington Heights. Colin has a 10.0 Attorney rating on Avvo, and was named one of the 2014 “Top 40 Under 40” Trial Lawyers in Illinois by the National Trial Lawyers Association.