What should you know when you rent a condo, apartment or home in Chicago? Chicago is a very TENANT friendly city. The Chicago Landlord & Tenant Ordinance favors tenants which makes my job difficult when I represent landlords but makes it a breeze when I work with tenants. This post focuses on your rights as a TENANT. These are items you should be aware of both positive and negative.

Security Deposit:The strictest portion of the ordinance in Chicago pertains to your security deposit. Your landlord must do a couple things:

1. Hold your security deposit in a separate account

2. Pay you interest on your security deposit. The amount of interest is determined by the Chicago Landlord Tenant Ordinance. For 2012 it is a whopping .057%.

3. On the FRONT of the lease the landlord must provide the Bank Name as well as a Branch Address of where the security deposit is held. Furthermore, the bank MUST be in the State of Illinois.

4. Your security deposit must be returned within 45days of vacating your unit. IF the landlord is with-holding a portion of the security deposit for damages the landlord must provide written notice within 30days of tenant vacating the unit with an itemized statement of damages.

What if the landlord violates any of these items? Well, if the landlord has been found to have violated any of the Security Deposit or Prepaid Rent provisions of the ordinance then the tenant shall be awarded damages in the amount of two times the security deposit amount plus interest.

Late Fees: Some landlords try to charge a late fee PER DAY the rent is late and this is illegal in Chicago. The Maximum late fee a landlord can charge is $10 for the first $500 of rent and 5% for anything above. This means that if your rent is $450 then your late fee is $10. If your rent is $1500 then your late fee is $10 for the first $500 and 5% of the remaining $1,000 which would equal $50. The total late fee would be $60 PER MONTH.

Locks: As of 2012 landlords in Chicago must do one of the following:

1. Change the locks after each tenant


2. Give the tenant the right to change their own locks.

Failure to do so may result in the landlord being responsible for any theft that may take place in the unit during the lease period.

Is your rental unit covered by the Chicago Landlord Tenant Ordinance?

All rental units in Chicago are covered WITH THE FOLLOWING EXCEPTIONS:

– Units in OWNER OCCUPIED BUILDINGS with 6 or fewer units.

– Units in hotels, motels & rooming houses unless your rent is paid monthly and occupied more than 32days.

– School dormitories, shelters, employee’s quarters, non-residential rental properties.

– OWNER OCCUPIED co-ops and condos. Meaning an owner in a 2 bedroom condo rents out his/her room to you.

As always I am not an attorney and this is not meant to be taken as legal advice. Instead, this is meant to be taken as practical advice for renting and living in Chicago.

Paul Blackburn is an Illinois licensed Realtor and Broker with @ Properties. He can be reached anytime via e-mail at Paul@PKBlackburn.com


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