Protecting Yourself While You Rent in Chicago

Chicago offers the Residental Landlord Tenant Ordinance (RLTO) which can help tenants get out of problematic rentals. In the hopefully unlikely event you need to leverage your rights, here’s some things you can do to make sure you are prepared.

  1. Know your lease. Read the terms of your lease prior to signing it. If things seem questionable, seek assistance. Some landlords will try and disclaim things they market and promote as amenities. It’s sort of like a bait and switch. Be aware of those and know your rights.
  2. Take photos upon move-in. Be sure to place these in a cloud service, or burned onto a disc. Adding a timestamp to the photos also helps. This also helps you recover your security deposit should they dispute an issue.
  3. Keep documentation every time you need to reach out for a repair, complaint, or otherwise. Documenting the responses can also help.
  4. Stay cordial as best as possible. Things can get frustrating sometimes. Avoid using profanity, or making accusatory statements that can escalate a situation negatively. When in dispute, keep the high road and stay assertive of your request(s) or issue(s).
  5. Keep it in writing. Some property managers, engineers, or landlords may make a concerted effort to avoid a record of issues or communication. Be sure to keep it in writing via email or postal mail. Take screenshots of texts. Recording phone calls is dicey and may not be applicable should you have to take something to court.
  6. Take photos of before and after repairs to keep an ongoing photo documentation.
  7. If repairs are not done after 14 days, start seeking assistance through groups like the Metropolitan Tenants Organization.
  8. Keep a record of rent payments to ensure that if your landlord attempts to misrepresent your record to another potential landlord, you can show appropriate evidence.
  9. If you physically mail anything, get it certified or tracked to ensure there is no dispute of receipt.
  10. Take photos upon move-out and make sure you keep backups.

Got other tips we should share? Feel free to let us know!

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