Know Your Rights: The Basics for Tenants and Landlords (Part 1 of 3)

If you live in Chicago, you are more likely to rent than own your place of residence. Over 60 percent of the city rents, but chances are many don’t know all the rights they are entitled to as a renter. The city has an official ordinance in effect that covers several rights and obligations for both the tenants and the landlords. I will explain them in the second installation of my Know Your Rights series.

Firstly, the ordinance does not cover all rental situations only those with written or oral leases that included subsidized housing such as CHA , are covered. The following do not fall under ordinance rules.

  1. Apartments located in complexes with three or less apartments where the owner occupies one of the units.
  2. Hotel/motel rooms, if rent is not paid on a monthly basis or the room is not occupied for more than 32 consecutive days.
  3. Rooming houses do not count, if rent is not paid on a monthly basis or the room is not occupied for more than 32 consecutive days.
  4. School dormitories.
  5. Shelters.
  6. Employee’s quarters.
  7. Non residential rental properties.
  8. Owner occupied co-ops.
  9. Owner occupied condominiums.
  10. Owner occupied properties that have less than six units.

Did you know that as a tenant you have certain obligations under this ordinance? Yup, and here they are.

  1. You are responsible for buying working batteries for smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your apartment.
  2. You must keep your place safe and clean.
  3. You are allowed to use any equipment (i.e. washing machine) or facilities (i.e. gym) in a reasonable manner.
  4. You are not allowed to do damage to your apartment.
  5. You also cannot bother the other residents of the complex.

Landlords of course have certain duties under the ordinance.

  1. They must give the tenant in writing their name, address, and number.
  2. They cannot make tenants resign a lease more than 90 days before its termination.
  3. They must advise tenants at least 30 days before a lease expires, if it cannot be renewed. If they don’t, the tenant can stay in the property for an additional 60 days under the terms of the old lease.
  4. Landlords must keep the building up to code.
  5. They cannot enforce prohibited lease provisions, such as demanding that the tenant waive his or her legal rights.
  6. They must also advise each tenant in their complex within seven days of receiving a foreclosure notice.
  7. They must also disclose at the time of signing if the building is in foreclosure.
  8. They also must notify tenants of any code citations, such as lack of reinforced balconies,  issued by the city in the past 12 months.
  9. They must advise tenants of any pending Housing Courts or other administrative hearings.
  10. They must tell tenants of any utility service shut offs before they occur.

What do you do if your landlord isn’t meeting these provisions? Want to know more about your monetary rent payment rights? Watch out for my next posts!

Part 2: Monetary Rent Rights

Part 3: Legal Remedies


Read more about your rights in Chicago here:


Employment Discrimination.


Religious Discrimination.

If there's any area you would like me to write a post about email me @


Filed under: Housing

Tags: Housing Rights

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