Maintenance and Repairs

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

Tenant Responsibilities
  • Keep unit in a clean and safe condition and free of refuse.
  • Keep all plumbing fixtures clean.
  • Use electrical, plumbing, heating, cooling, appliances and elevators in a reasonable manner.
  • Do not destroy, deface or damage the unit or permit your guests to do so.
  • Do not disturb your neighbors or permit your guests to disturb them.
Landlord Responsibilities
  • Maintain the structural integrity of the building and the floors in compliance with safe load-bearing requirements.
  • Maintain required stairways, exits, stairway lighting, fire escape or directional signs.
  • Provide smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and required fire safety systems.
  • Maintain elevators, heating facilities, appliances, hot and cold running water and plumbing.
  • Maintain windows, exterior doors and walls, basement hatchways, porches in sound condition.
  • Keep the building free from refuse, insects, rodents and other pests.
Not Reasonably Fit and Habitable
  • If the building is not reasonably fit and habitable, the tenant must provide the landlord written notice of the problem and his intention to terminate the lease.
  • If after 14 days, the landlord fails to make the repair, the lease terminates.
  • The tenant must deliver possession 30 days after the date specified in the notice.
Minor Defects
  • If the cost to correct a problem does not exceed $500.00 or one-half of the monthly rent, the tenant must provide the landlord written notice of the problem and his intention to correct it.
  • If after 14 days, the landlord fails to make the repair, the tenant may have the work done in a workman like manner and in compliance with applicable codes.
  • After submitting a paid bill from a tradesperson or supplier, the tenant may deduct the cost of the repair from the rent.
Failure to Maintain
  • If there is a violation in the building, the tenant may provide the landlord written notice of the problem and his intention to withhold from the rent.
  • If after 14 days, the landlord fails to make the repair, the tenant may withhold from the monthly rent an amount that reasonably reflects the reduced value of the unit.
Landlord’s Right of Access
  • After giving the tenant 2 days notice, the landlord may enter the unit to make repairs, decorations, alterations or improvements.
  • In an emergency, or where repairs elsewhere in the building unexpectedly require access, the landlord may enter the unit giving the tenant notice within 2 days of the entry.
  • Except in an emergency, the landlord may only enter the unit between 8:00 am and 8:00 pm, or at another time agreed to by the tenant.
  • If the tenant refuses access, the landlord may obtain injunctive relief to compel access or terminate the lease after giving a 10-day written notice.

*Note: A tenant may not deny the landlord access to delay work on requested repairs when invoking any of the repair remedies specified above.

Best Practices
  • Make repairs promptly and keep a written record of all work performed in the building.
  • Encourage tenants to report problems early so they can be corrected before becoming a major repair.
  • Perform routine inspections of the building’s exterior and common areas and make necessary repairs as needed.
  • Respond in writing to any notices received from the tenant and be as specific as you can about the actions you plan to take and when repairs are expected to be complete.
  • Document requests for access, particularly when the tenant makes requests for repairs.

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.