In Chicago, there's a wide variety of things to consider during the rental contract process. It’s important to get familiar with local regulations to make sure you're following the law and that the terms of the contract are legally-enforceable. Whether you’re the landlord or the tenant, understanding Chicago's rental regulations can help you navigate the process of entering into a rental agreement and ensure that your rights as a landlord or tenant are protected.

It’s imperative that both landlords and tenants understand the laws and regulations around rental contracts in Chicago before signing an agreement. This guide will provide a comprehensive overview of these regulations, from the eligibility criteria a tenant must meet to enforcement of contracts, including fines and legal procedures for eviction.

Understanding Fair Housing Regulations

One of the most important things to be aware of when leasing or renting a property in Chicago is the Fair Housing Act. This is a federal law that was designed to protect tenants and prospective tenants from discriminatory practices such as housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, religion, or familial status.

The regulations extend to a wide variety of housing types, including single-family homes, rental apartments, condominiums, and cooperative housing. Fair housing laws also apply to mobile home parks, boarding houses, and shelters for the homeless.

Under the Fair Housing Act, landlords in Chicago are required to rent the property equitably and without discrimination. This means that no one should be denied an opportunity to rent the property solely on the basis of any factor protected by the law, such as race, color, national origin, sex, disability, religion, and familial status.

Security Deposits

When a new tenant moves into a rental unit in Chicago, they are typically required to pay a security deposit in order to ensure that both parties are protected. The maximum security deposit provided by the landlord cannot exceed the amount of two months' rent under the Illinois Security Deposit Return Act.

Upon entering into the rental contract, the landlord must provide the tenant with a detailed list of acceptable damage and security deposit deduction types. This list should include recommended deductible amounts and must be created using the language outlined in the Security Deposit Return Act. Additionally, the landlord must also provide the tenant with a written description of the condition of the unit and take photos or video recordings to document the state of the unit before the tenant moves in.

Lease Enforcement

In the event that either the tenant or the landlord is found to be in breach of the rental contract, the lease may be legally enforced. Under the Illinois Forcible Entry and Detainer Act, the tenant may be charged with eviction if they fail to adhere to the conditions of the lease.

In the event that the tenant has failed to pay rent or has damaged the property beyond the acceptability of the landlord, the latter may take legal actions to enforce the lease. However, the landlord must provide the tenant with a written notice of eviction before legally taking the tenant to court.


In the event that either the tenant or the landlord manifests serious violations of the lease or the landlord engages in illegal evictions, both parties may face penalties. The most common penalties include fines, tenant removal, and damages for the tenant.

For example, the Illinois Security Deposit Return Act states that a landlord who fails to return a security deposit to the tenant within 45 days of the lease termination may be liable for two times the amount of the security deposit. Additionally, they may also be found liable for any court-related expenses associated with the case.

UpCounsel for Your Legal Support Needs

Navigating Chicago's rental laws and regulations can be a complicated process, and it's essential to have a trusted partner in legal counsel and support when entering into a rental contract. At UpCounsel, we have a trusted network of experienced business lawyers who have an average of 14 years of legal experience. Our online profiles provide detailed reviews of client ratings and reviews of recent work to make sure that you are getting the best assistance and counsel for your legal needs. Whether you need a one-time consult or an entire freelance legal department, UpCounsel can provide high quality, cost-effective legal services to all businesses from small businesses to the Fortune 1000.


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