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Navigating a Lease Renewal or Termination Under Chicago's RLTO

When renting or leasing an apartment in Chicago, the Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance (“CRLTO”) leaves little room for assumptions and is extremely favorable to tenants. The CRLTO was created to protect both the landlord and tenant, and if landlords do not follow it carefully, troublesome situations may arise from simple misunderstandings.

One common misunderstanding landlords have is that once a lease term expires, the tenancy also automatically expires. Under the RLTO, that is not true. In fact, if landlords fail to deliver proper notice to tenants that they do not intend to renew a tenant’s lease, a tenant may be granted up to 60 days of occupancy from the date proper notice is actually given.

According to the Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance, Municipal Code Title 5, Chapter 12, Section 5-12-130(j), a landlord is required to provide written notice of the landlord’s intent not to renew the lease at least 30 days prior to the termination of the lease term. If a landlord does not provide a proper notice within the required time frame, the landlord cannot terminate the tenancy upon service of the 30-day notice but rather must give the tenant 60 days to vacate from the time they actually deliver the notice, even if that date is after the lease would have otherwise expired.  The lease continues during that time upon its original terms.

This law also applies to a situation where a landlord receives indication from a tenant that the tenant wishes to renew the lease and the landlord fails to serve notice of rejection, and then the tenant does not actually sign an updated lease. If a landlord believes that the tenant will not actually renew the lease and the 30-day timeframe is approaching, it may be prudent to serve the 30-day notice of intent not to renew the fixed term lease so that if the tenant does not renew, a landlord can begin eviction without having to serve a 60 day notice. If the landlord and tenant sign a new lease in the meantime, the termination notice would then become invalidated.

Additionally, landlords should be aware that RLTO Section 5-12-130(i) states that a tenant is not required to renew a rental agreement more than 90 days prior to the termination date of the rental agreement. Should a landlord require a renewal before that time frame, the landlord can be liable to the tenant for one month’s rent or the tenant’s actual damages.

Rental agreement renewals and notices of termination must be considered carefully and reviewed thoroughly. If you need help with these issues, contact Kershner Sledziewski Law.


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