How Rent Control Works in Chicago

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Because of the large population and demand for housing, rent control laws in Chicago, Illinois are an extremely important issue for both landlords and tenants to be knowledgeable about. Prior to moving to or leasing a new apartment in Chicago, thoroughly research and ask questions about these laws.

Rent Control Explained

Rent control is a legal guideline for residential properties that regulates or prohibits a landlord from raising rents. Essentially, this means that there is a cap on the amount of rent a landlord may charge for a specific apartment. These laws are created by the state or county legislature, but have not been enacted in all states.

Rent Control in Chicago

In 1997 the Illinois Legislature enacted the Rent control Preemption Act which prohibited local governments from enacting rent control ordinances.  However, the Act does not limit the government from creating rent control laws if the government has an interest in residential property.  This means that there is no rent control in the entire state of Illinois and that in a month to month rent contract or lease agreement a landlord can increase rent by any amount at any time.

Other Illinois Rent Laws

Although there is no rent control in Chicago, other landlord laws exist to protect tenants. Throughout Illinois, a landlord may not increase the rent for a residential property until the expiration of the initial lease term and must provide thirty, and in some instances sixty, days notice of any increase before the end of the rental period. For example, if a landlord and tenant enter into a one-year rental agreement, the landlord may not increase the rent by any amount until the end of that year.

Additionally, a landlord must return a security deposit within forty-five days of termination of the lease and cannot withhold funds unless the tenant owes rent or caused damage to the property above normal wear and tear. A tenant living in certain Counties or in a complex with 25 or more apartments is also entitled to receive yearly interest on their security deposit.

Chicago Housing Authority Rent Assistance Programs

The Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) provides rental assistance to low-income, senior or incapacitated residents. Public housing is available for these groups of residents, but residents are required to enroll in an educational program or work part-time. Senior housing is available for residents age 62 or older.

The CHA also administers the federally funded Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program. This program provides low-income families with a voucher to use towards the rent of any private housing throughout the City, provided both parties agree to abide by the program rules. The CHA makes rental payments directly to the landlord. To qualify, residents must be currently on the waiting list, earn an income of less than fifty percent of the City’s median income and pass a criminal background check.

While rent control is prohibited in the State of Illinois, several laws protect a tenant’s rights within the City of Chicago. The Chicago Housing Authority assists low-income residents with rental payments and also offers public housing. However, competition for these units is high, and any application should be completed thoroughly and as directed. Prior to leasing an apartment, check to see if you are eligible for either of these programs.

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