Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance - RLTO

       

        SEE CHICAGO RLTO CASES

 

       

 
 

Security Deposit Law

 

          

    Chicago renters of town-homes, apartments, condos, and single-family homes may email attorney Silverman for a free initial review of their Chicago rental situation and rights.

 

 

SEE EXAMPLES OF CASES

 

 

 

 

SECTION

 

5-12-010
5-12-020
5-12-030
5-12-040
5-12-050
5-12-060
5-12-070
5-12-080
5-12-081
5-12-082
5-12-090

5-12-095
5-12-100
5-12-110
5-12-120
5-12-130
5-12-140
5-12-150
5-12-160
5-12-170
5-12-180
5-12-190
5-12-200

 

   RATES

 TITLE

 

Title, Purpose and scope
Exclusions
Definitions
Tenant Responsibilities
Landlord's Right of Access
Remedies for Improper Denial of Access
Landlord's Responsibility to Maintain
Security Deposits
Interest Rate on Security Deposits
Interest Rate Notification
Identification of Owner and Agents

Tenants' Notification of Foreclosure Action
Notice of Conditions Affecting Habitability
Tenant Remedies
Subleases
Landlord Remedies
Rental Agreement
Prohibition on Retaliatory Conduct
Prohibition on Interruption of Occupancy
Summary of Ordinance Attached to Lease
Attorney's Fees
Rights and Remedies Under Other Laws
Severability

 

Chicago's Security Deposit Interest Rates

5-12-110  Tenant Remedies

In addition to any remedies provided under federal law, a tenant shall have the remedies specified in this section under the circumstances herein set forth.

For purposes of this section, material noncompliance with Section 5-12-070 shall include, but is not limited to, any of the following circumstances:

 

Failure to maintain the structural integrity of the building or structure or parts thereof;

Failure to maintain floors in compliance with the safe load-bearing requirements of the municipal code;

Failure to comply with applicable requirements of the municipal code for the number, width, construction, location or accessibility of exits;

Failure to maintain exit, stairway, fire escape or directional signs where required by the municipal code;

Failure to provide smoke detectors, sprinkler systems, standpipe systems, fire alarm systems, automatic fire detectors or fire extinguishers where required by the municipal code;

Failure to maintain elevators in compliance with applicable provisions of the municipal code;

Failure to provide or maintain in good working order a flush water closet, lavatory basin, bathtub or shower, or kitchen sink;

Failure to maintain heating facilities or gas-fired appliances in compliance with the requirements of the municipal code;

Failure to provide heat or hot water in such amounts and at such levels and times as required by the municipal code;

Failure to provide hot and cold running water as required by the municipal code;

Failure to provide adequate hall or stairway lighting as required by the municipal code;

Failure to maintain the foundation, exterior walls or exterior roof in sound condition and repair, substantially watertight and protected against rodents;

Failure to maintain floors, interior walls or ceilings in sound condition and good repair;

Failure to maintain windows, exterior doors or basement hatchways in sound condition and repair and substantially tight and to provide locks or security devices as required by the municipal code, including deadlatch locks, deadbolt locks, sash or ventilation locks, and front door windows or peepholes;

Failure to supply screens where required by the municipal code;

Failure to maintain stairways or porches in safe condition and sound repair;

Failure to maintain the basement or cellar in a safe and sanitary condition;

Failure to maintain facilities, equipment or chimneys in safe and sound working condition;

Failure to prevent the accumulation of stagnant water;

Failure to exterminate insects, rodents or other pests;

Failure to supply or maintain facilities for refuse disposal;

Failure to prevent the accumulation of garbage, trash, refuse or debris as required by the municipal code;

Failure to provide adequate light or ventilation as required by the municipal code;

Failure to maintain plumbing facilities, piping, fixtures, appurtenances and appliances in good operating condition and repair;

Failure to provide or maintain electrical systems, circuits, receptacles and devices as required by the municipal code;

Failure to maintain and repair any equipment which the landlord supplies or is required to supply; or

Failure to maintain the dwelling unit and common areas in a fit and habitable condition.

(a)     Noncompliance by Landlord. If there is material noncompliance by the landlord with a rental agreement or with Section 5-12-070 either of which renders the premises not reasonably fit and habitable, the tenant under the rental agreement may deliver a written notice to the landlord specifying the acts and/or omissions constituting the material noncompliance and specifying that the rental agreement will terminate on a date not less than 14 days after receipt of the notice by the landlord, unless the material noncompliance is remedied by the landlord within the time period specified in the notice. If the material noncompliance is not remedied within the time period so specified in the notice, the rental agreement shall terminate, and the tenant shall deliver possession of the dwelling unit to the landlord within 30 days after the expiration of the time period specified in the notice. If possession shall not be so delivered, then the tenant's notice shall be deemed withdrawn and the lease shall remain in full force and effect. If the rental agreement is terminated, the landlord shall return all prepaid rent, security and interest recoverable by the tenant under Section 5-12-080.

 

(b)     Failure to Deliver Possession. If the landlord fails to deliver possession of the dwelling unit to the tenant in compliance with the residential rental agreement or Section 5-12-070, rent for the dwelling unit shall abate until possession is delivered, and the tenant may:

(1)     Upon written notice to the landlord, terminate the rental agreement and upon termination the landlord shall return all prepaid rent and security; or

(2)     Demand performance of the rental agreement by the landlord and, if the tenant elects, maintain an action for possession of the dwelling unit against the landlord or any person wrongfully in possession and recover the damages sustained by him.

If a person's failure to deliver possession is wilful, an aggrieved person may recover from the person withholding possession an amount not more than two months' rent or twice the actual damages sustained by him, whichever is greater.

(c)     Minor Defects. If there is material noncompliance by the landlord with the rental agreement or with Section 5-12-070, and the reasonable cost of compliance does not exceed the greater of $500.00 or one-half of the monthly rent, the tenant may recover damages for the material noncompliance or may notify the landlord in writing of his intention to correct the condition at the landlord's expense; provided, however, that this subsection shall not be applicable if the reasonable cost of compliance exceeds one month's rent. If the landlord fails to correct the defect within 14 days after being notified by the tenant in writing or as promptly as conditions require in case of emergency, the tenant may have the work done in a workmanlike manner and in compliance with existing law and building regulations and, after submitting to the landlord a paid bill from an appropriate tradesman or supplier, deduct from his or her rent the amount thereof, not to exceed the limits specified by this subsection and not to exceed the reasonable price then customarily charged for such work. A tenant shall not repair at the landlord's expense if the condition was caused by the deliberate or negligent act or omission of the tenant, a member of the tenant's family, or other person on the premises with the tenant's consent.

Before correcting a condition affecting facilities shared by more than one dwelling unit, the tenant shall notify all other affected tenants and shall cause the work to be done so as to create the least practical inconvenience to the other tenants. Nothing herein shall be deemed to grant any tenant any right to repair any common element or dwelling unit in a building subject to a condominium regime other than in accordance with the declaration and bylaws of such condominium building; provided, that the declaration and bylaws have not been created to avoid the application of this chapter.

For purposes of mechanics' lien laws, repairs performed or materials furnished pursuant to this subsection shall not be construed as having been performed or furnished pursuant to authority of or with permission of the landlord.

(d)     Failure to Maintain. If there is material noncompliance by the landlord with the rental agreement or with Section 5-12-070, the tenant may notify the landlord in writing of the tenant's intention to withhold from the monthly rent an amount which reasonably reflects the reduced value of the premises due to the material noncompliance. If the landlord fails to correct the condition within 14 days after being notified by the tenant in writing, the tenant may, during the time such failure continues, deduct from the rent the stated amount. A tenant shall not withhold rent under this subsection if the condition was caused by the deliberate or negligent act or omission of the tenant, a member of the tenant's family, or other person on the premises with the tenant's consent.

(e)     Damages and Injunctive Relief. If there is material noncompliance by the landlord with the rental agreement or with Section 5-12-070, the tenant may obtain injunctive relief, and/or recover damages by claim or defense. This subsection does not preclude the tenant from obtaining other relief to which he may be entitled under this chapter.

(f)     Failure to Provide Essential Services. If there is material noncompliance by the landlord with the rental agreement or with Section 5-12-070,either of which constitutes an immediate danger to the health and safety of the tenant or if, contrary to the rental agreement or Section 5-12-070, the landlord fails to supply heat, running water, hot water, electricity, gas or plumbing, the tenant may give written notice to the landlord specifying the material noncompliance or failure. If the landlord has, pursuant to this ordinance or in the rental agreement, informed the tenant of an address at which notices to the landlord are to be received, the tenant shall mail or deliver the written notice required in this section to such address. If the landlord has not informed the tenant of an address at which notices to the landlord are to be received, the written notice required in this section shall be delivered by mail to the last known address of the landlord or by other reasonable means designed in good faith to provide written notice to the landlord. After such notice, the tenant may during the period of the landlord's noncompliance or failure:

(1)     Procure reasonable amounts of heat, running water, hot water, electricity, gas or plumbing service, as the case may be and upon presentation to the landlord of paid receipts deduct their cost from the rent; or

(2)     Recover damages based on the reduction in the fair rental value of the dwelling unit; or

(3)     Procure substitute housing, in which case the tenant is excused from paying rent for the period of the landlord's noncompliance. The tenant may recover the cost of the reasonable value of the substitute housing up to an amount equal to the monthly rent for the each month or portion thereof of noncompliance as prorated.

In addition to the remedies set forth in Section 5-12-110(f)(1)--(3), the tenant may:

(4)     Withhold from the monthly rent an amount that reasonably reflects the reduced value of the premises due to the material noncompliance or failure if the landlord fails to correct the condition within 24 hours after being notified by the tenant; provided, however, that no rent shall be withheld if the failure is due to the inability of the utility provider to provide service; or

(5)     Terminate the rental agreement by written notice to the landlord if the material noncompliance or failure persists for more than 72 hours after the tenant has notified the landlord of the material noncompliance or failure; provided, however, that no termination shall be allowed if the failure is due to the inability of the utility provider to provide service. If the rental agreement is terminated, the landlord shall return all prepaid rent, security deposits and interest thereon in accordance with Section 5-12-080 and tenant shall deliver possession of the dwelling unit to the landlord within 30 days after the expiration of the 72-hour time period specified in the notice. If possession shall not be so delivered, then the tenant's notice shall be deemed withdrawn and the lease shall remain in full force and effect.

If the tenant proceeds under this subsection (f), he may not proceed under subsections (c) or (d). The tenant may not exercise his rights under this subsection if the condition was caused by the deliberate or negligent act or omission of the tenant, a member of his family, or other person on the premises with his consent. Before correcting a condition, the repair of which will affect more than his own dwelling unit, the tenant shall notify all other tenants affected and shall cause the work to be done so as to result in the least practical inconvenience to other tenants.

(g)     Fire or Casualty Damage. If the dwelling unit or common area are damaged or destroyed by fire or casualty to an extent that the dwelling unit is in material noncompliance with the rental agreement or with Section 5-12-070, the tenant may:

(1)     Immediately vacate the premises and notify the landlord in writing within 14 days thereafter of the tenant's intention to terminate the rental agreement, in which case the rental agreement terminates as of the date of the fire or casualty; or

(2)     If continued occupancy is lawful, vacate any part of the dwelling unit rendered unusable by the fire or casualty, in which case the tenant's liability for rent is reduced in proportion to the reduction in the fair rental value of the dwelling unit; or

(3)     If the tenant desires to continue the tenancy, and if the landlord has promised or begun work to repair the damage or destruction but fails to carry out the work to restore the dwelling unit or common area diligently and within a reasonable time, notify the landlord in writing within 14 days after the tenant becomes aware that the work is not being carried out diligently or within a reasonable time of the tenant's intention to terminate the rental agreement, in which case the rental agreement terminates as of the date of the fire or casualty.

If the rental agreement is terminated under this subsection (g), the landlord shall return all security and all prepaid rent in accordance with Section 5-12-080(d). Accounting for rent in the event of termination or apportionment shall be made as of the date of the fire or casualty. A tenant may not exercise remedies in this subsection if the fire or casualty damage was caused by the deliberate or negligent act or omission of the tenant, a member of his family or a person on the premises with his consent.

       
       This section defines material problems with habitability.  The list is non-exhaustive, but tenants are advised to frame their complaints within one of the enumerated "failures" expressly mentioned.  Most of the basics are covered, like bugs, mice, leaks, no heat, cracked windows, no fire extinguishers or smoke detectors. 

     The listed examples of material non-compliance sometimes incorporate other sections of the Chicago Municipal Code, which must be referred to for more specific requirements.  For example, the specific requirements for security devices are only found in chapter 13-164 of the Chicago Municipal Code, "Security Devices in Residential Buildings."  The sections of that chapter can be viewed by clicking the links below:

13-164-010 

Scope.

 

13-164-020 

Definitions.

 

13-164-030 

Dwelling unit entrance doors.

13-164-040 

Building entrances.

 

13-164-050 

Window locks.

 

 

 

     The entire chapter of the Building Code governing Chicago residential Units, 13-64, can be viewed by clicking the chapters below:

     If material non-compliance by a landlord can be shown, then the tenant may be entitled to remedies set forth in subsections (a)-(g) of RLTO 5-12-110.  The remedies include breaking the lease, withholding a reasonable amount from rent until the problem is fixed, and suing the landlord for damages that reflect the diminished value of the premises compared to the rent actually paid, or actual damages caused by the landlord's material failure to comply with the requirements under RLTO 5-12-110.

     So what does a tenant have to do to withhold rent or break their lease?  In either case, there has to be a real problem, as discussed above.  A leak probably isn't enough.  However, citation by the City for code violations also isn't a requirement before a tenant can allege non-compliance.  Whether a defect is serious enough or not will ultimately be up to a judge or a jury.  Don't try to withhold rent or break your lease under RLTO 5-12-110 unless you are confident you can prove the condition you allege was "non-compliance."

     The first and most important step is to write the landlord a letter.  Under Illinois state law it needs to be sent certified mail, but under the RLTO it need only be in writing.  An email will suffice.  Tenants are advised for practical reasons to send the written notice some way that provides the tenant with proof of mailing or delivery.

     The letter must advise the landlord of the specific problems that the tenant alleges are rendering the rental unit uninhabitable.  The tenant must give the landlord at least 14 days in the letter to fix the problem before the tenant takes any action.  This is important!  Tenants are not allowed to withhold rent or break their lease until they have (1) given the landlord a written notice and (2) given the landlord at least  14 days to fix the problem after the landlord gets the written notice. 

     Only if the landlord fails to remedy the problem within the 14 or more days specified in the notice can the tenant withhold a reasonable amount of rent from their next rental payment, or terminate the lease.  What's reasonable?  Don't do it unless you expect a judge or jury to believe it.  Tenants cannot withhold more than $500 or half their monthly rent while remaining in the unit, whichever is more.

     Tenants can also make repairs and replacements at their own expense, and deduct those costs from their next-month's rent, if the landlord has not fixed the problem in the 14 days allowed by the tenant's written notice.  Paid receipts are required, and the tenant must have the work done by a legitimate service provider at a reasonable rate.

     Under 110(e), renters are entitled to sue their landlords after move-out or during the tenancy for a rebate of rent already paid.  The basis for the claim must be that rent was overpaid in the past in light of material non-compliance by the landlord that diminished the fair market rental value of the rental unit.  Like everything else under this section, the amount that can be recovered must be proven reasonable.   Tenants pursuing damages under this section are advised to have some actual evidence supporting their claim that the landlord's non-compliance actually caused them damages, and how much.

     Damages can be recovered for interrupted utility service that the landlord is responsible for.

     If the building is destroyed and rendered uninhabitable, the tenant is released from their lease and the security deposit and prepaid rent must be returned as set forth in RLTO 5-12-080
 

 
       

 

 
 

Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance