Protection of Tenant Rights

Tenants sometimes feel powerless when they have a problem with their landlord. The consumer protection attorneys of Edelman, Combs, Latturner & Goodwin, LLC are on your side. Unlike some other firms, we refuse to represent landlords in cases against tenants. Our consumer protection attorneys have an in-depth understanding of rental ordinances, such as the Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance, and use this knowledge to our advantage in resolving disputes.

To get started on your case right now with no obligation whatsoever, simply complete our Free Confidential Consultation Form or give us a call at (312)739-4200. Let us start working on your Chicago personal injury case immediately.

The attorneys of Edelman, Combs, Latturner & Goodwin, LLC, have years of experience protecting tenants’ rights. We assist tenants who have encountered the following illegal landlord-tenant situations:

  • Landlords in large buildings failing to pay or credit interest every year on security deposits
  • Landlords failing to return security deposits in a timely manner or deducting charges from security deposits without proper documentation or cause
  • Landlords billing for utilities without individual metering, without disclosing the formula used in writing, or adding fees for processing utility charges
  • Chicago landlords depositing security deposits in the same accounts as rent money or not telling you where your security deposit is being held
  • Landlords and new purchasers converting buildings to condominiums without proper notices to tenants
  • Credit reporting and collection with landlords

Prompt, Effective Legal Services

Clients who have encountered illegal landlord situations need to make sure they hire an attorney with experience in this area of the law. The lawyers of Edelman, Combs, Latturner & Goodwin, LLC know how to handle these cases effectively. If you are having a problem with your landlord, contact us for a free consultation.


If you follow the rules in your lease, and move out at the proper time, without owing your landlord for rent or other charges (such as late fees or unpaid utility bills), your landlord is required to return your security deposit within 45 days. If you owe the landlord less than the amount of the security deposit, the landlord must return the balance.

We have noticed an increasing number of landlords refusing to return security deposits by charging tenants for a variety of items, including cleaning, painting and carpet replacement. Landlords can deduct the cost of actual damage you caused to the apartment, however, under Illinois law, landlords cannot deduct for “ordinary wear and tear.”

To protect yourself from this type of abuse, we recommend the following steps:

1. Thoroughly clean your apartment at move-out, including the walls, inside of cabinets, stove, refrigerator and carpet.

2. Request that the landlord conducts a move-out inspection IN YOUR PRESENCE to review the condition of the apartment and any possible damage or problem areas.

3. Take photos of the condition of the apartment when you left, including the walls, carpet, insides of cabinets, bathroom, etc. If possible, have another credible person witness the condition of the apartment before you leave.

4. Follow the landlord’s procedures for returning keys by the deadline in your lease or date your landlord has agreed to. Make sure to leave a forwarding address!

5. If the landlord does not return your security deposit within 30 days, call them and send them a letter by certified mail requesting that they return your security deposit.

6. If they do not respond to your letter and return your deposit, or if they have deducted amounts from your security deposit which you do not believe are justified, we recommend contacting a consumer protection law firm, such as Edelman, Combs, Latturner & Goodwin, LLC for a free consultation.

Illinois landlords are also required to pay interest on security deposits every twelve months in most cases if the tenant is not in default. In the City of Chicago, landlords must pay interest in all non-owner occupied buildings, and in owner-occupied buildings that exceed six units. Outside of Chicago, if there is no local ordinance, state law requires landlords of all complexes which exceed 25 units to pay interest on security deposits. In Chicago, most landlords must also keep security deposits in a separate bank account. If you believe your landlord has not paid you security deposit interest, or your Chicago landlord has deposited your security deposit into the same account as your rent payment, contact Edelman, Combs, Latturner & Goodwin, LLC for a free consultation.



If the landlord is billing tenants for building wide utilities, such as heat and water, without individual meters, the landlord must disclose the formula it is using for allocating the charges among the tenants, in writing. The landlord also cannot add additional amounts to what the utility company is charging. We have seen landlords charge tenants for “utility processing fees,” and we believe such charges violate Illinois law.

If the landlord is not paying the utility bills and the utility company is threatening to cut off services to the building, tenants have rights under both Illinois law and in Chicago under the Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance (“RLTO”).

Repairs and Maintenance:

Getting the landlord to make timely repairs is a constant struggle for many tenants. If you are in Chicago, in a building covered by the Chicago RLTO, the RLTO provides you with many remedies if the landlord does not make repairs. The Chicago RLTO can be found here.

If your building is covered by the RLTO, your landlord is required to provide you with a summary of your rights under the Ordinance with your lease. In Chicago, you also have the right to be informed about any building code violations the City has found in your building.

If you are outside of Chicago, sometimes there is a local ordinance which may grant you some rights. It is illegal for Illinois landlords to retaliate against tenants for calling local authorities to complain about problems in a residential apartment, and Chicago tenants have even more protection against retaliatory conduct.

If your landlord is not making necessary repairs or providing crucial services such as heat or water, taking the following action may be helpful:

1. If the problems are serious, complain to the local building code enforcement department. In the City of Chicago, building complaints can be reported through the City’s 311 number. However, keep in mind that if the problems are extremely severe, there is a chance the building inspector might declare the building unfit for occupancy.

2. Take pictures of the problems and if there is a heating issue keep a log of temperatures in the apartment in order to document your complaints.

3. Send a letter to your landlord requesting that the repairs be made.

4. In Chicago, the RLTO provides a number of different remedies, depending on the severity of the problem, including terminating your lease early, making small repairs yourself and deducting the cost from your rent, and reducing your rental payments. You must follow all of the RLTO’s requirements to be successful, however, so we recommend speaking with an attorney or a tenant’s rights organization about the proper procedures to follow before taking any of these actions.


The following organizations also provide assistance to tenants:

Contact a Tenants’ Rights, Lawyer

If you are seeking a tenants’ rights lawyer to represent you in a landlord/tenant situation, contact Edelman, Combs, Latturner & Goodwin, LLC, in Chicago, Illinois, by phone at 312-739-4200 or by e-mail. We offer free initial consultations to discuss your rights and legal options.

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The consumer protection and class action lawyers of Edelman, Combs, Latturner & Goodwin, LLC, represent clients throughout Illinois, and in Federal Courts in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Michigan, and will consider substantial cases in other jurisdictions.