Anytime you rent out property, be it for residential or commercial use, a rental agreement helps formalize the agreement between the renter and the property owner and elucidates the rights and responsibilities of each party. Without a written rental agreement, the process becomes a lot more confusing, for both the renter and the property owner, and the chances of conflicting expectations and disagreement greatly increases. Additionally, it can be difficult to prove any agreement was ever made without something in writing.

Rental agreements are particularly important in the City of Chicago, due to their local rental regulations and their designation as a ‘tenant-friendly’ city. This means that there are a variety of measures renters can take to protect their rights - such as using their rent as leverage to compel their landlord to carry out repairs - that must be properly located in the rental agreement to be legal.

It is vital that both the tenant and the landlord thoroughly read and understand the agreement to avoid future legal disputes. It is important to remember that the terms of the agreement cannot breach any laws or regulations, so going through it with a Chicago-based business attorney can be highly beneficial. A reputable attorney should be able to provide advice that is tailored specifically to the City of Chicago, and to the unique appropriateness of the agreement.

What Is a Rental Agreement? How Is It Different Than a Lease Agreement?

A rental agreement is the term used for agreements between a tenant and a property owner or landlord, where rent is paid in return for the right to use a property temporarily. Most often, rental agreements are used on a ‘month-to-month’ basis, and they cover the terms under which both parties must abide.

Rental agreements are not to be confused with leases, which specify that the tenant is living there for a specified period of time. This period may be 6 months, 12 months or more, and the terms of a lease agreement are much more detailed and specific than that of a rental agreement.

The differences between a rental agreement and a lease are extremely important when looking towards renting in Chicago.

How Renters Can Ensure Their Rights Are Protected

In Chicago, there are several laws that protect tenants, such as the Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance. These laws allow the tenant the leverage to demand maintenance of the rental, and ensure a level of basic services from the property owner.

When signing a rental agreement, both parties should be aware of these laws and how they are enforced. It may be beneficial to work with a business lawyer that is familiar with the Chicago rental laws and can ensure that the clauses in the agreement do not accidentally violate their tenant’s legal rights.

How to Enforce a Rental Agreement

It can sometimes be difficult to enforce certain provisions of a rental agreement if either the landlord or the tenant fails to fulfil their duties or responsibilities. In Chicago, there are a few courses of action that a tenant can take to make sure their agreement is respected.

First, a tenant can work with a Chicago-based lawyer to ensure the agreement is legally binding. This can help to insulate them against any bad faith enforcement of their rights, since the terms of the agreement will have a firm legal basis.

Another option is to file a complaint with the local Chicago government through their website or the Secretary of State's office. The government will investigate any misconduct and can issue fines or require certain property owners to make changes.

Finally, tenants and landlords can work with a mediator or an arbitrator to settle disputes that arise between them.

To conclude

Rental agreements are incredibly important in the City of Chicago, due to its tenant-friendly regulations and laws. As a tenant, it is important to understand the terms of your rental agreement, and to know what your rights are and how to enforce them. Working with an experienced business lawyer who is familiar with the local regulations and ordinances can be incredibly beneficial to any tenant who is looking to understand the significance of their rental agreement.


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