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What you should know about the Chicago landlord-tenant ordinance

by Chicago Agent

The City of Chicago governs rental agreements between landlords and tenants with a set of rules known as the Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance (RLTO or CRLTO). The ordinance sets out the rights and responsibilities of both parties and is known to be very tenant-friendly. Landlords have to follow the RLTO to the letter lest they be sued by the tenant for failure to comply with the ordinance.

Chicago landlords are required to provide a tenant with a signed copy of the lease along with other forms and flyers in order to validate the tenant’s occupancy. It’s a lot of material, and you as the landlord need to make sure that everything included in the lease packet is true and correct. You may be tempted to use a pre-written lease, but you need to make sure that the pre-written lease is up to date with the latest changes to the RLTO and covers your duties and responsibilities as a landlord.

It’s worth noting that the RLTO only applies to buildings with six or more units and are owner-occupied. Buildings that conform to this condition are not subject to the RLTO, but that doesn’t mean you can get away with a simple lease. Tenants still have recourse in the courts if the landlord fails to maintain the building in accordance with the RLTO. It’s wisest to play it safe and provide you and your tenants with a correctly written Illinois rental agreement form to protect you and your tenants. 

What You Need to Include in a Lease for a Chicago Apartment

As you look for an Illinois lease agreement form, make sure it’s in compliance with Chicago’s RLTO like this one is, https://www.ezlandlordforms.com/documents/illinois-lease-agreement-with-ezsign-127549/. The Illinois rental agreement form covers items such as the lease terms, rent due dates, security deposit, and more. However, the Illinois lease agreement form will not suffice for renting out an apartment within the city limits of Chicago. 

The lease itself needs to contain language that covers the rights and obligations of tenants and landlords that include:

  • Right of access to the unit by the landlord
  • General responsibilities of the tenant
  • Security deposit and interest
  • Prepaid rent
  • Identification of owner and agent
  • Remedies for landlord and tenant
  • Prohibition of retaliatory conduct by or on behalf of the landlord
  • Summary of ordinance attached to the rental agreement

You also need to include certain pamphlets, leaflets, and forms with the lease that inform the tenant of their rights.

Creating a Lease Packet for Renting an Apartment in Chicago

The CRLTO requires you to disclose information regarding certain regulations and what a tenant is entitled to when they rent from you. The purpose of these materials is to make sure that both landlords and tenants stay abreast of changes in state and federal laws regarding environmental hazards such as lead and bed bugs, along with ensuring that both parties adhere to the terms of the lease and honor their responsibilities to one another. 

A lease packet for an apartment rental in Chicago has to include:

  • Chicago recycling rules flyer
  • Lead-based paint disclosure form
  • Radon disclosure form
  • Summary of the CRLTO provided by the City of Chicago
  • Security deposit receipt form
  • Move-in and move-out inspection form
  • Bed bug prevention brochure

There’s a lot of information to provide a tenant, but it’s required even if the tenant is fully aware of these topics and issues prior to moving in. Failure to provide any of the information can give a tenant the opportunity to sue you in housing court. This is a flimsy reason to create a lawsuit, to be sure, but you don’t want to take the risk that a judge will throw out a case simply because you overlooked the inclusion of these materials.

The lease between you and your tenant is an instrument that protects you from legal action, and you need to make sure your lease is compliant with the CRLTO. 

Using a Pre-Written Form That Complies With the Chicago RLTO

A pre-written Illinois rental agreement form that contains the relevant language required by the CRLTO helps you avoid getting into legal trouble with a tenant. Using a form from a site like EZlandlordforms.com saves you time and alleviates the need to make sure that your lease is in compliance and legally binding. You can also add in your own clauses, rental terms, and length of the lease when you use an Illinois rental agreement form builder. 

Another advantage of using a lease agreement builder is that you can edit out the security deposit agreement and replace it with a non-refundable move-in fee. By and large, Chicago landlords and management companies have eliminated the security deposit requirement in favor of a move-in fee. Tenants frequently sue over not getting the interest on their security deposit paid, and there can be disagreements over the condition of the property when the tenant left. 

The move-in fee is legal in Chicago and removes the thorny issue of holding the security deposit while paying interest. In the event you have a property that is exempt from the CRLTO, you can edit the lease and take out provisions that are tenant-friendly. However, you should always check with legal counsel to make sure that any changes you make are legal and will be held up in court. 

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