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An Overview of The Cook County Tenant-Landlord Ordinance (RTLO)

Feb 28, 2023
Cook County Tenant-Landlord ordinance (RTLO)

In January 2021, the Cook County Board of Commissioners passed a new Residential Tenant Landlord Ordinance (RTLO) to prevent discrimination against housing applicants. This ordinance, which went into effect on June 1, 2021, outlines the rights and responsibilities of landlords and renters in Cook County suburban rentals.

The purpose of this Ordinance and the policy of the county is to protect and promote the public health, safety, and welfare of its citizens, to establish the rights and obligations of the tenant and the landlord in the rental of dwelling units, and to encourage the tenant and the landlord to maintain and improve the quality of housing.

Below is a quick summary of this ordinance and its sections.

Tenants’ Rights Under RTLO

According to RTLO, tenants have the right to a safe, habitable unit that includes the following:

▶   Essential services: heat, running water, hot water, electricity, gas, or plumbing that the rental agreement requires the landlord to provide, and internet access if the rental agreement requires the landlord to provide it.

▶   Property maintained in compliance with the relevant local building codes.

▶   Adequate heat: From September 15 through June 1 of each year, the inside temperature is at least 68 degrees from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. and at least 66 degrees from 10:30 p.m. to 8:30 a.m.

▶   A home free from bedbugs: After notification, the landlord must provide pest control services within ten days and must maintain written records of pest control measures for three years.

▶   Repairs made by a landlord in a timely manner: The RTLO requires landlords to make repairs within 14 days — after that, tenants may fix minor issues themselves and deduct the expenses from their monthly rent.

▶   Unless there is an emergency, tenants are entitled to two days' advance written notice before the landlord enters the unit.

▶   The RTLO sets forth procedures tenants may follow to force landlords to make necessary repairs. Tenants should consult with an attorney to ensure they follow these procedures properly.

Landlord protections under the RTLO

Although the Cook County RTLO may include some strict responsibilities for landlords, it also takes some protections. For example, if they need to send a notice to the tenants, there’s also a way around it to postpone the time you have for it.

Following are some protections for rental property owners due to RTLO:

▶   Landlords have a two-business day right to cure administrative errors, such as failing to attach the ordinance summary, disclose authorized entrants and ownership transfer, or disclose the bank's name where a security deposit is held.

▶   Landlords have a 14-day right to cure material noncompliance issues with the rental agreement, except for essential services.

▶   The ordinance protects landlords against property destruction and provides

clear rules on when and how landlords may exercise their right to dispose of abandoned property.

▶   Landlords have 30 days to decide whether to withhold from a security deposit unpaid rent that was not validly withheld, court costs awarded to the landlord, and/or the cost of repairing the damage the tenant caused.

▶   Landlords are given an opportunity to rebut a presumption that they have retaliated against their tenants.

▶   Landlords may enter a residence without notice to make emergency repairs.

▶   Tenants must report bed bugs to reduce the risk of exposure to adjacent units.

▶   Landlords may adopt specific rules and regulations for the health and safety of residents as long as these rules do not conflict with RTLO provisions.

Required Forms based on RTLO

Here is a list of all the required notices under RTLO that you need to have and give to tenants in order to comply with this article. 

  • Exhibit A: Landlord Exemption Notice Disclosure
  • Exhibit B: Prohibited Provisions Lease Agreements
  • Exhibit D: Utility Cost Disclosures
  • Exhibit E: 60-Day Lease Termination Disclosure
  • Exhibit F: Bed Bug Remediation Disclosure
  • Exhibit G: Copy of RTLO Summary Disclosure
  • Exhibit H: Security Deposit Financial Institution Disclosure
  • Exhibit I: Security Deposit Financial Institution Transfer Disclosure
  • Exhibit J: Foreclosure Disclosure
  • Exhibit K: Code Violations Disclosure
  • Exhibit L: Change of Ownership, Management, Agent Disclosure 

Note: Click here for more information about RTLO, and learn how and when you should use each of these forms. We've discussed each section of the ordinance and the required disclosure in one of LandlordingHelp educating modules.

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