Know Your Rights

Our Renters’ Resource Guide was created to assist renters in understanding the legal remedies available under the Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance. While the guide does not take the place of legal advice, knowledge is power! The more you know about your rights and responsibilities, the sooner you can recognize a potential problem and take appropriate action. The remedies provided in the Ordinance were designed and intended for use by non-lawyers, but if you are involved in a lawsuit as a result of a landlord dispute, you should consult an attorney immediately.

NOTE: Chapter 8: The Eviction Process has been updated and replaced by our Renters' Guide to Eviction Court

Chicago Renters' Resource Guide

(the whole guide including all chapters)

The Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing created the Renters’ Resource Guide to assist you in understanding the legal remedies available under the Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance

Chicago Renters' Resource Guide, Chapter 1

This chapter of the Chicago Renters' Resource Guide provides a summary of the Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance.

Chicago Renters' Resource Guide, Chapter 2

This chapter of the Chicago Renters' Resource Guide provides an overview housing discrimination. It is illegal to discriminate in any real estate transaction including rental, sale, terms and conditions of the rental or sale, advertising and lending. There are four major agencies in Chicago that handle housing discrimination complaints: Chicago Commission on Human Relations (CCHR), Cook Count Commission on Human Rights (CCCHR), U.S.

Chicago Renters' Resource Guide, Chapter 3

This chapter of the Chicago Renters' Resource Guide provides an overview of the rental agreement, otherwise known as the lease.

A lease is a contract containing promises between you and the landlord. There are two types: a written lease and a spoken or oral agreement. Both are recognized by the courts and can be legally binding. Understanding what you are agreeing to when signing a lease or what you are agreeing to orally with your landlord is very important.

Chicago Renters' Resource Guide, Chapter 4

This chapter of the Chicago Renters' Resource Guide provides an overview of the landlord's responsibilities under the Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance (RLTO) for maintaining his/her building in compliance with the Municipal Code and making all repairs promptly.

Chicago Renters' Resource Guide, Chapter 5

This chapter of the Chicago Renters' Resource Guide provides an overview of self-help remedies explicit in the Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance (RLTO) that tenants should use when they discover defective conditions in their apartments.

Chicago Renters' Resource Guide, Chapter 6

This chapter of the Chicago Renters' Resource Guide provides an overview of essential services (utilities) and some things you can do yourself to alleviate any problems.

Chicago Renters' Resource Guide, Chapter 7

This chapter of the Chicago Renters' Resource Guide provides an overview of writing letters to your landlord. When writing to your landlord, be specific in describing the problems you are having. Do not exaggerate or under-emphasize the extent of the problem. The landlord may show this letter to a judge if your problem is ever litigated. You want to make sure it conveys the truth of the situation accurately to give yourself the best possible chance of winning the case.

Chicago Renters' Resource Guide, Chapter 8

This chapter of the Chicago Renters' Resource Guide has been updated and replaced by our Renters' Guide to Eviction Court

Chicago Renters' Resource Guide, Chapter 9

This chapter of the Chicago Renters' Resource Guide provides an overview of illegal lockouts.

Chicago Renters' Resource Guide, Chapter 10

This chapter of the Chicago Renters' Resource Guide provides an overview of landlord retaliation. The law prohibits landlords from retaliating when you, as a tenant, assert your rights in good faith.

Chicago Renters' Resource Guide, Chapter 11

This chapter of the Chicago Renters' Resource Guide provides an overview of issues related to moving out. Moving out can be a complicated process and knowing your rights is extremely important. This knowledge can help solve problems that arise and keep you protected even after you have moved out.

Chicago Renters' Resource Guide, Chapter 12

This chapter of the Chicago Renters' Resource Guide provides an overview of security deposits. When you rent an apartment, the landlord almost always ask for a security deposit. This is a sum of money that the landlord holds to cover any damage that may occur while you are living in the apartment. Although the landlord holds it, a security deposit remains the property of the tenant. The security deposit may be used only for damages that make the apartment un-rentable.

Chicago Renters' Resource Guide, Chapter 13

This chapter of the Chicago Renters' Resource Guide provides an overview of the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program, a rental assistance program funded by the federal government. To qualify for a voucher, renters must meet strict income standards.