Chicago Residential Lease Agreement

Last Updated: December 7, 2023 by Savannah Minnery

A residential lease agreement in Chicago is a binding document between a landlord and a tenant. This agreement outlines the terms and conditions surrounding the use of a rental property in exchange for payment.

Residential Lease Agreement Requirements in Chicago

Chicago currently has several mandatory notices and disclosures that landlords must provide to tenants. These disclosures are either in addition to or modify requirements for Chicago’s lease agreement requirements.

Bed Bug Education Notice

For any residential lease agreements entered into or renewed after 2013, the landlord must provide tenants with an informational brochure regarding bed bug prevention and treatment prepared by the Department of Health.

Notice of Conditions

Before entering into a lease agreement with a tenant, Chicago landlords must disclose any code violations or intention to terminate water, gas, electricity, or any other utility provided by the landlord. If a utility will be shut off, landlords must provide a date for the shut-off and clarify which areas will be affected.

Landlord-Tenant Rights and Regulations in Chicago

Chicago enforces several local laws regarding landlord-tenant rights that landlords should be aware of:

Residential Landlord-Tenant Ordinance

Chicago’s Residential Landlord-Tenant Ordinance outlines the obligations of both the landlord and tenants when it comes to maintaining a safe and livable rental property. This ordinance covers the following topics:

  • Responsibilities of the landlord and tenants
  • Landlord’s right of access
  • Security deposits and prepaid rent
  • Notice of conditions affecting habitability
  • Landlord and tenant remedies
  • Landlord retaliation
  • Summary of ordinance attached to rental agreement

This ordinance applies to all residential rental units in Chicago except:

  • Owner-occupied buildings with six or fewer units
  • Hotels, motels, or rooming houses
  • Dormitories, shelters, or employees quarters
  • Owner-occupied co-ops or condos

Subleasing Rather Than Breaking the Lease

If a tenant decides to break the lease early for a disallowed reason, the landlord must make a reasonable effort to re-rent the unit at a fair rate, according to Illinois state law. The original tenant must continue to pay rent until a new tenant is found.

Alternatively, the original tenant may find a subtenant to take over payments rather than break the lease early. The landlord must accept the subtenant as long as they are reasonably qualified, with no additional fees. This is in accordance with Chicago-specific law.

Landlord’s Right of Access

Tenants must give landlords reasonable access to the rental unit as long as they have received two days’ notice. If any work or repairs need to be made in the common area or other units, landlords must provide a general notice to all affected tenants. In the event of an emergency or unexpected repair, the landlord must provide notice within two days after entry.

Lease Renewals and Rent Increases

Similar to state law, landlords in Chicago are prohibited from requiring tenants to renew their rental agreement more than 90 days in advance. Chicago’s Fair Notice Ordinance requires landlords to provide tenants with the following amount of notice for lease terminations and increased rent:

  • 30 days’ notice – if tenants have lived in the unit for up to six months
  • 60 days’ notice – if tenants have lived in the unit between six months and three years
  • 120 days’ notice – if tenants have lived in the unit for over three years.

Late Fees

Under Chicago’s Landlord and Tenant Ordinance, if the tenant does not pay rent on time, the landlord may charge a late fee of $10 per month if the rent is under $500. The landlord may also charge an additional 5% per month on any amount that exceeds $500.


Chicago’s Fair Notice Ordinance also gives tenants additional time to end an eviction case under certain conditions. Tenants may be eligible to stay in their homes if they:

  • Pay back all overdue rent
  • Pay back any court filing fees paid by the landlord
  • Do not live in the same building as the landlord if the building has six or fewer units

Tenants may continue to make payments until a judge issues an official eviction order against them, known as an “order of possession”.


Within seven days of being served a foreclosure complaint, the landlord must disclose, in writing, to all tenants in the rental property that a foreclosure action has been filed. The landlord must also notify tenants, in writing, of a foreclosure suit before the tenant signs the lease agreement.

Chicago Relocation Plan Ordinance

The Chicago Relocation Plan Ordinance provides protections for seniors in affordable housing buildings that are undergoing renovations or rehabilitation. Under this ordinance, senior tenants are entitled to relocation assistance if they are living in an affordable housing building with at least 24 units. Developers are required to comply with this ordinance for all eligible housing.

Chicago Heat Ordinance

Heat season in Chicago starts on September 15th and ends on June 1st. The heat ordinance requires landlords to maintain an indoor temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit from 8:30 am to 10:30 pm, and 66 degrees Fahrenheit from 10:30 pm to 8:30 am. The ordinance also specifies which heating devices cannot be used to meet temperature requirements. These include:

  • Portable space heaters
  • Cooking appliances
  • Domestic water heating equipment

In all circumstances, it is the responsibility of the landlord to maintain the required building temperature and keep all heating equipment in proper working order.

Optional Lease Agreement Disclosures and Addendums in Chicago

While not mandatory, landlords can add specific disclosures and addendums to their leases. This helps outline the responsibilities of the tenant and can prevent future liability issues.

Asbestos Addendum

Illinois is ranked as the 7th-highest state for asbestos-related deaths. This is why landlords should include an addendum stating if asbestos is present on the property. If asbestos is present, tenants should take precautions to minimize the chance of disturbing the fibers.

Pest Control Addendum

Since Chicago is known for its high rodent population, it would be wise for landlords to include a pest control addendum. This agreement should highlight the tenants’ responsibilities related to pest prevention—including reporting any signs of pests to management as soon as possible.

This pest control addendum does not apply to bed bugs—as landlords are required by the city to provide information on bed bug prevention.

Crime and Drug-Free Addendum

Due to Chicago’s high crime rates, landlords may want to include an addendum stating that engaging in criminal activity, including drug-related activity, is prohibited on or near the property.

Summary of Required Lease Disclosures for the State of Illinois

  • Radon GasAll rental agreements require a general disclaimer about the dangers of high levels of radon gas. This gas is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that may cause health issues if a person is exposed over time.
  • Carbon Monoxide Detector Landlords must comply with the Carbon Monoxide Detector Act by providing tenants with information about a property’s carbon monoxide detector testing and maintenance history.
  • Smoke Detector Landlords must comply with the Smoke Detector Act by providing tenants with information about a property’s smoke detector testing and maintenance.  Tenants must maintain their smoke detectors themselves and must inform the landlord of any issues.
  • Shared Utilities Arrangement – When each unit does not have its own utility meter, the landlord must disclose this information in the rental agreement. They must also provide a mutual written agreement with the tenant for payment of services.
  • Concession Granted – Landlords must disclose any concession for rent that they grant. The phrase “Concession Granted” must be written in the lease detailing the value and terms of the concession.
  • Lead-Based Paint – Federal law states that any home built before 1978 must disclose the risks associated with lead-based paint