UPDATE: A new version of 5-12-130(j) has passed the City Council. This article is no longer timely. As Chicago landlord-tenant attorneys, one situation that we frequently run into is when a Chicago landlord is forced to serve a sixty (60) day notice to terminate tenancy instead of a thirty (30) day notice. This situation arises when the CRLTO applies and the tenant’s lease term has expired without the landlord serving a proper notice of intent not to renew. Many Chicago landlord’s incorrectly believe that once a lease term expires, that is the end of the tenancy. This is not so.
The City of Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance, Municipal Code Title 5, Chapter 12, Section 5-12-130(j) requires a landlord to provide a written notice of the landlord’s intent not to renew the lease at least 30 day prior to the termination of the lease term. This notice must be served just like any other eviction notice. If a landlord fails to provide the correct notice in time, the landlord can not terminate the tenancy upon service of a 30 day notice to terminate tenancy! Instead, the correct notice in the case of “late” delivery is actually a 60 day notice. During the time between the date the lease expires (on paper) and the actual termination date from the notice, the lease continues upon the original terms of the lease.
So what about the situation where a landlord gets an indication from a tenant that the tenant wants to renew and the landlord fails to serve the notice after which the tenant does not sign a new lease? The law still applies. If the landlord is in doubt as to whether a tenant will renew the lease and the 30 day mark is approaching, then the conservative play, in light of the Section 5-12-130(j) requirements, is to go ahead and 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 proceed to eviction without having to serve a 60 day notice. In the meantime, if the landlord and tenant sign a new lease, that would invalidate the notice.
As an aside, keep in mind that the CRLTO Section 5-12-130(i) provides that tenant cannot be required to renew a rental agreement more than 90 days prior to the termination date of the rental agreement. Landlords who require a renewal before that time can be liable to the tenant for the greater of one month’s rent or the tenant’s actual damages.
Lease renewals and termination notices can be tricky. Be sure to review your lease carefully and consider obtaining the assistance of a landlord-tenant attorney to help navigate these choppy waters.