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Chicago Property Management Blog

The Cook County RTLO: What Landlords Need to Know

As landlords operating in Cook County, it is important to understand our responsibilities under the Residential Tenants Landlord Ordinance (RTLO). The RTLO establishes certain rights and protections for residential tenants in unincorporated Cook County and requires landlords to meet minimum health and safety standards for rental properties.

Some of the key provisions of the RTLO that landlords should be aware of include:

  • Security deposits: The RTLO caps security deposits to 1.5 times monthly rent and sets up penalties when security deposits are not returned. Landlords have 30 days to determine security deposit deductions, which may include damage repairs and some court costs.
  • Notice of entry: Landlords must provide at least 48 hours' written notice before entering a tenant's unit, except in cases of emergency. Tenants can consent to shorter notice periods.
  • • Essential services: Landlords must provide essential services like heat, running water, hot water, electricity, and plumbing in good working order. Failure to provide essential services constitutes an emergency and allows tenants to deduct a portion of rent or terminate the lease.
  • Security: Landlords must provide and maintain security devices like deadbolt locks, peepholes, and lighting to ensure the safety of tenants.  
  • Code compliance: Rental properties must comply with all applicable building and housing codes for health, safety, and occupancy. Landlords must make necessary repairs to correct any code violations.  
  • Retaliation prohibited: Landlords cannot retaliate against tenants by evicting them or raising rent in response to complaints about property conditions or the exercise of rights under the RTLO.

To operate successfully in Cook County, landlords should understand the responsibilities and requirements set forth under the Residential Tenants Landlord Ordinance. By upholding high standards for property conditions and tenant protections, we can build positive relationships with renters and promote safe, equitable housing for all.

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