General Landlord Responsibilities

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.

Chicago Municipal Code Online

Chicago Municipal Code Requirements

Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance (Mun. Code Ch. 5-12)
  • Generally applies to all rental units except units in owner-occupied buildings with 6 or fewer units.
  • Sets out rights and remedies for landlords and tenants.
Smoke Detectors (Mun. Code Ch. 13-64-120 and 13-196-140)
  • Generally applies to all buildings with residential units.
  • Requires at least one smoke detector in each unit.
  • Requires the tenant to provide and maintain a working battery in all smoke detectors within the unit.
Minimum Heat (Mun. Code Ch. 13-196-410)
  • Generally applies to all residential units that are rented.
  • Chicago's heat ordinance requires that from September 15th to June 1st, rental units must be supplied with heat in order to achieve the following minimum temperatures:
    • 68 degrees from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
    • 66 degrees from 10:30 p.m. to 8:30 a.m.
Fair Housing (Mun. Code Ch. 5-8)
  • Generally applies to all rental units.
  • Prohibits discrimination based on race, color, sex, age, religion, disability, national origin, ancestry, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, military discharge status or source of income.
Security Devices in Residential Buildings (Mun. Code Ch. 13-164)
  • Generally applies to residential units that are rented.
  • Sets out the security lock requirements for building entrances, unit doors and windows.
Refuse Containers/Compactors (Mun. Code Ch. 7-28)
  • Generally applies to buildings with five or more residential units.
  • Requires landlord to provide refuse containers and service for the building.
  • Requires landlord to provide a compactor for buildings that generate high volumes of waste.
Heating Cost Disclosure (Mun. Code Ch. 5-16)
  • Generally applies to individually metered dwelling units where tenants pay for heat.
  • The average monthly heating cost for the past 12 months must be disclosed to the tenant.
  • Utility company must give the landlord the information, at no direct cost, within 2 weeks.
Carbon Monoxide Detectors (Mun. Code Ch. 13-64)
  • Generally applies to residential buildings that rely on combustion of fossil fuel for heat, ventilation or hot water.
  • Requires at least one carbon monoxide detector in each unit, except in the case of a central boiler system, one carbon monoxide detector by the boiler is required.
  • Requires tenant to provide and maintain a working battery in all carbon monoxide detectors within the unit.
Building Registration (Mun. Code Ch. 13-10)
  • Generally applies to buildings with four or more dwelling units.
  • Requires annual registration, with the Building Department, and payment of a $10.00 per building registration fee.

Best Practices

  • Provide a written lease to your tenant, even when offering a month-to-month term.
  • Look for a written lease that complies with the Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant ordinance and has space for such requirements as heating cost disclosure so your documentation is all in one place.
  • Perform annual test of all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Be sure light bulb size does not exceed the maximum wattage label found on light fixture.
  • Drain settlement off the water heater every 6 months.
  • Install a lint trap on the washing machine drain and change regularly.
  • Prune trees and shrubs to prevent them from resting on exterior siding or roofing.
  • Provide exterior lighting to ensure yards and entryways are well lit.
  • Service heating and cooling systems annually.

The complete text of any of the code requirements outlined in this pamphlet can be obtained through the City Clerk, Room 107 City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle Street, Chicago.  A copy charge may apply.