Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance

Update – April 2016
  From August 2015: We want to provide judges in Chicago judicial discretion to decide the penalty if a landlord violates the Chicago residential landlord ordinance, in order to create fairness for landlords as well as tenants. Ordinance violations affect affordability for working families, as landlords pass violation costs onto tenants. We will be introducing an ordinance under Alderman Brendan Reilly at the first meeting of the Chicago City Council this month. We introduced the measure to the last City Council, but it didn’t get heard. This year, we are pressing for full hearings and discussions on RLTO. Keep an eye out for future Calls to Action. Questions? Contact Brian Bernardoni.


  • Change “shall” to “may” in the RLTO to encourage judicial discretion.
  • Eliminate mandatory sentencing for landlords for minor or trivial offenses.
  • Create fairness in the RLTO for landlords and tenants — C.A.R. agrees that tenants need protection from bad landlords, but good landlords also deserve protection for their real estate investments.


  • Lawyers prey upon landlords and recoup incredible legal fees for minor offenses to the RLTO.
  • These lawsuits do not benefit tenants and costs often get passed along to tenants.
  • Class action lawsuits are currently being filed by lawyers seeking to gain more benefits off of technical problems with the RLTO.
  • Lawyers have won pro-lawyer opinions in court, allowing them to continue to gain legal fees on appeals in minor cases


  • Advised landlords to stop collecting security deposits, which are the basis for all penalties in the RLTO.
  • Introduced an ordinance with the needed “shall” vs. “may” reform. The ordinance was introduced and is held in committee. We are seeking hearings this fall.