In Chicago, there are apartments for every taste and budget, from sleek penthouses overlooking the city skyline to quaint walk-ups with charming built-ins and all the historical trimmings. And in most cases, all of these rental units are going to be governed by the same set of rules, the Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance, or RLTO.

RLTO is a broad ordinance, and the primary source for tenants’ rights law in the City of Chicago. This exhaustive piece of legislation provides guidelines on rules, rights, regulations, duties, and, importantly, remedies for renters and landlords in Chicago.

What Is the RLTO? What Does It Really Mean for Landlords and Tenants in Chicago?

Passed in 1986 and amended over the years (fairly recently, for instance, the city added an ordinance dealing with bed bugs), the RLTO was created with the intention to “protect and promote the public health, safety and welfare” of Chicago’s renters, and to “encourage the landlord and the tenant to maintain and improve the quality of housing” available in the city.

The ordinance applies to the vast majority of rental housing in Chicago, with some exceptions. Most notably? Broadly speaking, the RLTO generally doesn’t apply to employer-provided housing; owner-occupied buildings with six units or fewer; most boarding houses/rooming houses/dormitories; or properties occupied pursuant to a real estate purchase contract.

As we mentioned already, the RLTO is broad and sweeping, and touches on many different elements of the landlord/tenant relationship. Most importantly, the RLTO establishes rules and expectations when it comes to categories like:

  • Tenant’s general duties
    Broadly speaking, the tenant’s responsibilities tend to include keeping their unit safe and clean, not disturbing other residents, and keeping up with rental payments.
  • Landlord’s general duties
    The ordinance details duties for landlords, including maintaining the property, providing identification for relevant owners and agents, providing proper disclosures, and so on.
  • Right of access for landlord
  • Security deposits and prepaid rent
  • Lease terms
  • Subletting
  • Tenant remedies (for issues such as major and minor defects; failure to provide essential services; and more)
  • Landlord remedies (for late payments; non-compliance with rental agreement terms; and so on)

Interested in learning about these items in more detail? The full text of the RLTO is available for perusal here, via the American Legal Publishing Corporation, or here, as provided by the City of Chicago.

As a current or prospective rental tenant or landlord, it’s important to understand the scope of the RLTO, getting a sense of what it does – and, just as importantly, what it doesn’t do.

In many cases, for tenant seeking to pursue a remedy against a landlord, it may prove important to consult with an expert in local lease and rental laws, such as an experienced local real estate attorney. An experienced attorney can bring unique insight to your specific situation, including helping clarify your options and, ultimately, pursue the right course of action for your unique circumstances.  What’s more, an attorney can bring specialized financial and legal insights to the table, helping you understand the ins and outs of rental ordinances and real estate law for Chicago and the State of Illinois more broadly, empowering you to find tailored solutions for your needs.

Want to Keep the Conversation Going?

Whether you rent or own, your home is more than just a place to live. It’s the space where you relax, unwind, plan, create, and make memories that will last a lifetime. It’s an incredibly important place – and you deserve to enjoy it to the fullest.

With that said, it’s also important to recognize that the laws and regulations that affect owners and renters alike here in Chicago can be complex. Our area has some unique local rules, impacting lease and rental agreements, security deposits, development, and so much more.

The attorneys and staff of The Gunderson Law Firm specialize in helping individuals and businesses throughout Illinois find tailored solutions insightfully, promptly, and professionally. We’re here to field any additional questions or address any concerns that you may have, with specific answers for your unique situation.

Have any more questions? Our full range of real estate legal services includes:

  • Residential Real Estate
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  • Condominium Law
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  • … And More

Drop us a line or give us a call today to get the conversation started, or to set up your free initial consultation.