Residents of Chicago are governed by a “Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance.” Most leases in the Chicago area are designed to follow the guidelines set in this ordinance. By identifying each party’s rights and responsibilities, it protects both you and your landlord. The City of Chicago has a Renters’ Rights webpage, which includes links to the full ordinance as well as a summary, and a Chicago Renters’ Rights Hotline phone number, 312.742.RENT (312.742.7368).

Responsibilities of Tenants

  • Make the rental payments in a timely manner. Otherwise, you can be subject to late fees and/or eviction.
  • Follow the terms of your lease. Failure to do so may result in your eviction.
  • Take pictures and document any damage visually and in writing before you move in, and send copies to the landlord. Otherwise, the landlord has the right to charge you for any damage to the apartment when you move out.
  • Keep your apartment in good condition, and use all the appliances and facilities appropriately.
  • Maintain good relations with your neighbors – keep noise volumes at appropriate levels, and use shared spaces courteously.
  • Your landlord has the right to access your apartment if they have a good reason – maintenance, inspection, or showing it to a potential new tenant. However, you have the right to require at least one or two days’ prior notice from your landlord, except in the event of an emergency.
  • Give written notice about whether you want to terminate or renew your lease, usually at least 30 days before the end of your current lease.
  • Follow proper garbage disposal procedures, including recycling.
  • Notify your landlord of any maintenance needs as soon as possible, preferably dated and in writing. Most will have an online form allowing you to do this. If the landlord does not take care of any issues, you may have the right to proceed with other actions – review the terms of your lease carefully, along with the renter’s rights website, to learn more.

Responsibilities of Landlords

  • Provide the tenant with a safe apartment which is maintained in accordance with city health and safety regulations.
  • Return the security deposit if all the obligations of the lease are met. (Although security deposits must be refunded, move-in fees or other charges usually are not.)
  • Provide tenants with written notice at least 30 days in advance if a lease is being terminated or cannot be renewed.
  • Provide water with adequate water pressure and a reliable water heater.
  • Provide a heating system in good working order. There are specific rules regarding the temperature that must be maintained in the apartment if the landlord controls the heating levels.
  • Accept a reasonable offer for subletting the apartment without additional fees. Subleasing is legal under the “Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance.”
  • Provide a lease agreement that does not violate any laws. If a lease contains illegal clauses, they are not enforceable.