If you are a landlord in the city of Chicago, then you probably know how crucial a strong lease agreement is to your success. This is the first of a two-part article series intended to provide an overview of necessary lease provisions and highlight those items that are required by the infamous Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance (CRLTO). Passed into law in 1986, the CLRTO establishes the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants alike, as well as penalties if either party fails to fulfill the Ordinance’s specific obligations.

For a checklist of all the required lease addendums, head over to The Chicago Landlord’s Checklist for a Proper Lease, Part Two.

Due to the range of items that a lease agreement can cover and the various amenities specific to each property, this article should not be considered exhaustive.  We strongly recommend that you seek professional legal counsel when crafting your lease agreement.

  1. Include the following basic provisions:
  • Full address of leased premises, including unit number
  • Date the lease is signed or entered in to
  • Lease start date
  • Lease End date
  • Monthly rent amount, parking fees, utility charges, and any rent concessions
  • If the landlord accepts a security deposit:
    • Amount of security deposit
    • Name and address of the Illinois financial institution where the deposit will be held [CLRTO 5-12-080]
  • If the landlord accepts a move-in fee:
    • Amount of move in fee
    • Statement indicating fee is non-refundable
  • List of all utilities to be paid by landlord
  • List of all utilities to be paid by tenant
  • List of appliances to be provided by landlord
  • Names of all tenants authorized to occupy premises, including dependents with date of birth
  • Phone number and email address for all adult tenants
  • Name, address, phone number and email address for landlord or authorized management [CLRTO 5-12-090]
  • Name and contact information of person(s) authorized to act on behalf of owner (may be marked “same” as landlord or authorized management)


  1. Specify the following policies, related to rent payment:
  • Method of rent payment (ex. online portal, check, etc.)
  • Day of month that rent is due
  • Late fee to be incurred [compliant with CRLTO 5-12-140]


  1. Specify the following policies, related to tenant use of premises:
  • Allowable activity in residence, including policies on criminal activity, guest stays or shared housing rental (ex. Airbnb).
  • Access to parking units, if applicable
  • Access to storage, if applicable
  • Allowable unit alterations, unit damage, and unit maintenance responsibilities
  • Subletting the unit [CRLTO 5-12-120]


  1. Specify the following policies, related to landlord access/maintenance of premises:
  • Unit access for routine maintenance, given proper notice [CRLTO 5-12-050]
  • Unit access for emergency maintenance, and providing proper notice [CRLTO 5-12-050]
  • Unit access for prospective tenant showings


Now that you have the foundation for a proper lease, don’t forget to check out Part Two, where we review the lease addendums necessary to fully complete your lease package.

Have questions or concerns about your lease agreement?  Our experienced attorneys are here to help. Call KSN toll-free at 855-537-0500 or visit www.ksnlaw.com to get started today.

Since 1983, KSN has been a legal resource for condominium, homeowner, and townhome associations. Additionally, we represent clients in real estate transactions, collectionslandlord/tenant issues, and property tax appeals. We represent thousands of clients and community associations throughout the US with offices in several states including Florida, Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin.

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