The Chicagoland Apartment Association publishes this as a public service. It is meant to inform and not to advise. Before enforcing any rights or remedies you may want to seek the advice of an attorney who can better analyze the specific facts of your case.

Residential Landlord & Tenant Ordinance (RLTO) Requirements

Rent Payment & Late Fees
  • Rent is due on the date specified in the lease.
  • Late fees may be charged on rent received after the due date, but must not exceed $10.00 per month for the first $500.00 in monthly rent, plus 5% per month for any amount in excess of $500.00.
  • Bonuses for early rent payment are limited as specified above for late fees. (eff. 1-1-92)
Failure to Pay Rent (5-Day Notice)
  • If the tenant fails to pay rent when due, the landlord must provide written notice to the tenant and the tenant has 5 days to pay the rent.
  • If after 5 days, the tenant fails to pay rent, the landlord may terminate the lease by filing an action in the Circuit Court.
Noncompliance by Tenant (10-Day Notice)
  • If the tenant fails to comply with the lease or requirements of the RLTO, the landlord must provide written notice and 10 days for the tenant to correct the problem.
  • If after 10 days, the tenant still fails to correct the problem, the landlord may terminate the lease by filing an action in the Circuit Court.
Disturbance of Others
  • If the tenant disturbs others in the building, the landlord must provide a written notice and 60 days for the tenant to correct the problem.
  • If the tenant fails to correct the problem, the landlord may obtain injunctive relief or may terminate the lease with a 10-day written notice as outlined above.
Retaliatory Conduct
  • The landlord may not knowingly terminate a tenancy, increase rent, decrease services, sue or threaten suit for possession or refuse to renew a lease because the tenant has, in good faith:
    • Complained of a code violation or illegal landlord practice to any official, community group or media or sought assistance to remedy such; or
    • Requested the landlord make repairs to the building or the rental agreement; or
    • Become a member of a tenant’s union or similar organization or testified in any court or administrative proceeding concerning the condition of the building.
Lockouts Are Illegal
  • No landlord may throw a tenant out of a unit without a court order executed by the Sheriff.
  • No landlord may change the locks, block an entrance, remove a door, interfere with services or remove a tenant’s personal property from the unit without a court order.
Abandonment & Disposition of Abandoned Property
  • Abandonment occurs when the landlord receives actual notice from the tenant or:
    • All persons entitled to occupy the unit have been absent for 21 days or one rental period and have removed their personal property from the unit and rent is unpaid; or
    • All persons entitled to occupy the unit have been absent from the unit for a period of 32 days and rent for that period is unpaid.
  • If the unit is abandoned, the landlord shall make a good faith effort to re-rent the unit at a fair rental. If successful, the original tenant is responsible for the difference between the original rent and the amount of the re-rental, as well as advertising costs.
  • If the tenant fails to remove personal property after abandonment or a termination of the agreement, the landlord shall store all abandoned property and may dispose of it after 7 days.
Refusal to Renew Rental Agreement
  • Except in cases of eviction, if the landlord does not intend to renew the rental agreement, written notice must be given to the tenant within 30 days of the expiration of the existing lease. (eff. 1-1-92)
Failure to Comply
  • Retaliation can be used by the tenant as a defense in any retaliatory action filed against him.
  • If the landlord is found guilty of retaliatory conduct, the tenant may recover two month’s rent or twice the actual damages sustained.
  • A landlord who illegally locks out a tenant faces arrest by the Chicago Police Department and a fine of $200.00 to $500.00. (eff. 1-1-92)
  • If the landlord fails to notify the tenant that the lease will not be renewed, the tenant may remain in the unit for up to 60 days after notice is actually given. The terms of this tenancy shall be the same as those under the tenancy immediately preceding it. (eff. 1-1-92)
Best Practices
  • Effective screening of tenants can reduce costs associated with turnover and evictions.
  • Provide a written receipt for rent, mark the date on which it was received and maintain a copy for your records.
  • Rent assistance is available in targeted communities through the Rental Emergency Assistance Loan (REAL) program, interested landlords should call (312) 747-2659.
  • Evictions take time and cost money. When possible, landlords should work with the tenant toward a payment solution that works for everyone.
The Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance (RLTO) governs tenancy in ALL residential units in Chicago except units:
  • In owner-occupied buildings containing six units or less;
  • In hotels, motels, inns, tourist houses, rooming houses and boardinghouses, but only until such time as the dwelling unit has been occupied by a tenant for 32 or more continuous days and tenant pays a monthly rent;
  • In a hospital, convent, monastery, extended care facility, asylum or not-for-profit home for the aged, temporary overnight or transitional shelter, or dormitory;
  • Occupied by a purchaser or seller pursuant to a real estate purchase contract prior to or subsequent to such transfer of title;
  • Occupied by an employee of a landlord whose right to occupancy is conditional upon employment in or about the premise; or
  • In a cooperative occupied by a holder of a proprietary lease

Provisions of the RLTO took effect on November 6, 1986 unless otherwise specified in parenthesis.

Excerpt from Chicago RLTO

5-12-130 Landlord Remedies

Every landlord shall have the remedies specified in this section for the following circumstances:

  1. Failure to Pay Rent. If all or any portion of rent is unpaid when due and the tenant fails to pay the unpaid rent within five days after written notice by the landlord of his intention to terminate the rental agreement if rent is not so paid, the landlord may terminate the rental agreement. Nothing in this subsection shall affect a landlord’s obligation to provide notice of termination of tenancy in subsidized housing as required under federal law or regulations. A landlord may also maintain an action for rent and/or damages without terminating the rental agreement.
  2. Noncompliance by Tenant. If there is material noncompliance by a tenant with a rental agreement or with Section 5- 12-040, the landlord of such tenant’s dwelling unit may deliver written notice to the tenant specifying the acts and/or omissions constituting the breach and that the rental agreement will terminate upon a date not less than 10 days after receipt of the notice, unless the breach is remedied by the tenant within that period of time. If the breach is not remedied within the 10 day period, the residential rental agreement shall terminate as provided in the notice. The landlord may recover damages and obtain injunctive relief for any material noncompliance by the tenant with the rental agreement or with Section 5-12-040. If the tenant’s noncompliance is willful, the landlord may also recover reasonable attorney’s fees.
  3. Failure to Maintain. If there is material noncompliance by the tenant with Section 5-12-040 (other than subsection (g) thereof), and the tenant fails to comply as promptly as conditions permit in case of emergency or in cases other than emergencies within 14 days of receipt of written notice by the landlord specifying the breach and requesting that the tenant remedy it within that period of time, the landlord may enter the dwelling unit and have the necessary work done in the manner required by law. The landlord shall be entitled to reimbursement from the tenant of the costs of repairs under this section.
  4. Disturbance of Others. If the tenant violates Section 5-12-040(g) within 60 days after receipt of a written notice as provided in subsection (b), the landlord may obtain injunctive relief against the conduct constituting the violation, or may terminate the rental agreement on 10 days written notice to the tenant.