February 26, 2023

Eviction Process Explained In Chicago: RLTO Guide & Tips

Eviction Process In Chicago

Being a landlord comes with many challenges, and tenant eviction is one of the most unpleasant aspects of the job. While tenants bring in steady rental income, issues may arise that require eviction.

Understanding the eviction process, landlord rights, and tenant obligations is crucial for any landlord or investor.

In this guide, we will explore the eviction process in Chicago and provide tips for making it as smooth as possible.

What is RLTO?

Chicago is a tenant-friendly city that prioritizes tenant rights. The Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance (RLTO) outlines both tenants' and landlords' rights and obligations. Many Chicago landlords are well-versed in leasing laws and aim to protect their tenants from any unfair treatment.

As a tenant or landlord in Chicago, it is essential to read and understand the RLTO thoroughly. Even a minor violation of its provisions can result in financial disputes.

One of the essential requirements is that the landlord must provide the tenant with a summary of the RLTO when signing a lease agreement and include other essential documents. Failure to attach the RLTO to the lease agreement constitutes a violation that can lead to a fine and complicate things in the future. Landlords must also ensure that they are using the current year's lease agreement as it contains all the crucial provisions, including the identification of the owner or agent and notices.

You can find the latest Chicago lease - Here.

Both tenants and landlords have rights and obligations under the RLTO. Understanding these rights and obligations is crucial to maintaining a positive landlord-tenant relationship, so let's go over some of the most important rights to remember.

Guide to the eviction process in chicago can be found on the city of Chicago website


Security Deposits

As a tenant, you will need to pay a security deposit to the landlord, which will pay for any damages that have been sustained on the property. Landlords must disclose the security deposit on the lease and provide a receipt showing where the security deposit will be maintained. Landlords will need to make a separate account for the security deposit since it cannot be co-mingled with the account where they receive the rent.

In addition, they have to pay the tenant interest on the security deposit. The interest rate on the security deposit varies yearly, but you can get the exact numbers from any bank in the area. Once the tenant vacates the property, the landlord must refund the security deposit within 30 days.

If there is any damage to the property, the landlord will need to provide written notice of what is wrong with the property and provide receipts for the damage within those 30 days. Once they have paid off the damage from the security deposit, the landlord will need to return any amount that is left from the security deposit within 45 days of the vacancy.

Conditions Affecting Habitability

It is the duty of the landlord to ensure that the rented-out property is in good condition, is repaired where repairs are needed, has access to all utilities, and has its mortgage paid. Not every issue in the property means it is inhabitable. For example, if your landline’s phone is not working or the oven is out of order, it does not mean an individual cannot live on the property. Simply give your landlord a call and give them 24 to 48 hours to address the issue.

On the other hand, if something is damaged in the property and the landlord knows about it, they need to inform the tenant about it and let them know that the damage is being addressed. Otherwise, if the structure is not safe and sound, it can lead to a lawsuit. ‍

Prohibition of Retaliatory Conduct Retaliatory

Prohibition of Retaliatory Conduct Retaliatory conduct by the landlord can happen when there is a conflict between the tenant and the landlord. For example, the tenant has notified a landlord of damage, but the landlord isn't fixing it. This creates a feeling of bad will between the two parties, and the landlord can retaliate against the tenant by, say, shutting off their water or gas supply, changing the locks to the door, or throwing out the tenant’s stuff.

All these things are prohibited, and the landlord can land in hot water because of them.

Violating a Lease Agreement

It is important for both the landlord and the tenant not to violate the lease agreement, as that can lead to lawsuits and hefty penalties. For example, suppose the landlord refuses to return the security deposit within 45 days of the eviction. In that case, it can lead to damages twice the amount of the security deposit, plus the security deposit itself, as well as the attorney fees and court costs. On the other hand, if the tenant damages the property, they will also be liable for the damage incurred and the attorney and court fees.

Right To Enter

Tenants have certain rights when renting a property, and it is essential to understand them before signing a lease agreement. Among these rights is the right of access, which means that landlords cannot enter the rented property without giving the tenants a 48-hour notice in written form, such as a letter, text message, or email. This provision gives tenants a sense of privacy and ensures that they have time to prepare for the visit.

Process of Eviction

The main reasons why a tenant is evicted are because they are not paying their rent or are involved in illegal criminal activities. If you have a tenant who is damaging your property, you can also pursue them for money damages. If they refuse to pay up, this can also be grounds for eviction. To evict a tenant, a landlord must legally terminate the tenancy by giving the tenant a written notice to fix the problem within five days.

The problem could be anything from paying the rent or finding a new home for a dog. This is true for valid leases. However, if the lease has expired and you are now on a month-to-month tenancy, then the notice period needs to be 30 days.

Delivery Of Notices Is Important

If you're facing the daunting task of evicting a tenant, you know it can be tricky, especially if your tenant refuses to cooperate. The first step is to hand over the eviction notice to the tenant or someone aged 18 years or older residing with them. However, in case your tenant is uncooperative and doesn't open the door, don't fret. You can always hire a special process server who can do the job for you.

Now, after the initial five-day notice, your tenant must be served a summons by the Cook County Sheriff. But what if the Sheriff cannot deliver the summons to the tenant? In such a scenario, you'll have to seek permission from the court to hire a special processor who knows all the tricks of the trade and can effectively deliver the summons to the tenant.

Eviction Case Going To Trial

Now, let's talk about the chances of the eviction case going to trial. In most cases, it rarely does unless the tenant has a very good reason for not paying rent. For instance, they can argue that they didn't pay rent because the landlord turned off the water or allege retaliatory eviction. If this is the case, the tenant must appear in court to provide their testimony. However, if it's a straightforward case of non-payment of rent, there is a high likelihood that the matter will be resolved outside the trial since there's little defense against non-payment of rent.

The Eviction Early Resolution Program

If you want to have amicable relations with your tenant, the Eviction Early Resolution Program can help you with that. The program allows the two parties to come together and talk to find a mutually beneficial solution to the issue. For example, if the tenant is unable to pay his rent, they can talk to the landlord to give him 60 days to catch up. These kinds of arrangements can result in a win-win situation for both parties. The tenants are not out in the street, the landlord gets their rent, and they can pay their taxes to the city. ‍

Bottom Line

To have an amicable leasing relationship, the tenant must take care of the property and be on friendly terms with the landlord. On their part, the landlord needs to keep the property well-maintained for the tenant's health, safety, and security. However, if some issues still require eviction, don’t do it yourself.

Hiring an attorney who understands eviction laws and can guide you through the process correctly is essential.

Want to learn more about evictions in Chicago?

Check out our show dealing with eviction and subscribe to the Profit Knocks channel.

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