Articles and Publications

Cook County residential landlords – look out for the Residential Tenant and Landlord Ordinance

November 4, 2021

In January 2021 the Cook County Board of Commissioners implemented a new Residential Tenant and Landlord Ordinance (RTLO) that brings residential tenants throughout Cook County many of the same protections that Chicago has provided for residential tenants under the Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance. Cook County’s new RTLO grants residential tenants in Cook County a variety of rights and imposes significant liability on landlords that violate those rights.
The RTLO applies to most residential property in Cook County, Illinois, except in those cities, villages and incorporated towns that maintain regulations that establish both the rights and obligations of landlord and tenants (most notably within Chicago but also including several smaller municipalities). The RTLO contains some broad exemptions for residential units located in owner-occupied apartment buildings with six or fewer units, hotels, monastery and other institutional religious housing, and most medical facilities. Finally, the ordinance does not apply to any residential unit that is either a single-family home or condominium that is: (1) the only residential unit leased by the owner; (2) where the owner or immediate family member has actually resided at the property for at least one month in the 12 months prior to marketing the property for lease; (3) the owner personally manages the property (expressly not including property management companies); and, (4) the owner is not a corporation.
If the RTLO applies to residential tenants, they may have several additional rights, including but not limited to:
  • Additional protections from “lock-outs” by the landlord;
  • The right to sue for damages if the landlord fails to maintain the tenant’s security deposit or if the landlord fails to maintain the property;
  • Requires that a landlord provide at least 60-days’ notice of non-renewal prior to the end of the lease term and allows the tenant to remain in the property for 120 days after notice if the landlord fails to comply;
  • Bars the enforcement of any clause of a lease waiving notices such as a five-day notice of intent to evict; prohibits jury waivers; and bars the landlord from collecting attorney’s fees in any action to enforce the terms of the lease or evict the tenant;
  • Limits late fees and other penalties to $10 or 5% of the overall rent where the rent is more than $1,000 per month; and 
  • Limits “move in” fees to the landlord’s actual costs for the tenant moving into the property.
The damages for breaches of the various provisions of the RTLO are generally a multiple of the tenant’s actual damages or a multiple of the monthly rent (whichever is higher). Several of these provisions allow the tenant to recover their attorney’s fees and costs as well. 
To our Chicago landlords, these provisions will likely seem familiar. Landlords in Cook County need to be aware of these new requirements to protect themselves from new tenant claims. If you have questions, contact a Chuhak & Tecson Real Estate attorney for help. 
Client Alert authored by Adam K. Beattie (312 855 6409), Principal

This Chuhak & Tecson, P.C. communication is intended only to provide information regarding developments in the law and information of general interest. It is not intended to constitute advice regarding legal problems and should not be relied upon as such.