When and under what conditions can rental agents show your apartment?

Unannounced and short-notice showings are one of the most common complaints that tenants have about landlords and the rental services they employ to rent apartments.

A landlord’s right to show an apartment to prospective tenants is limited by the Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance (CRLTO).

A landlord can only show a unit to prospective tenants 60 days or less before a lease expires, and must give two days’ advance notice, in writing or by phone, before a showing. Showings must be at reasonable times, and showings between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. are presumed reasonable.

A tenant can agree to a shorter notice period, but has no obligation to do so, and can revoke any agreement at any time. Landlords sometimes try to specify a shorter notice period in a lease. Any such provision in a lease is in violation of the CRLTO, is unenforceable, and may subject the landlord to financial penalties.

The CRLTO provides that tenants cannot “unreasonably withhold consent” to a showing, and that raises questions about what conditions a tenant can and should attach to showings.

Tenants need to be acutely sensitive to how much risk they’re exposed to by the shoddy business practices of Chicago rental services. Tenants also need to be aware that it’s a sad fact that Chicago landlords typically make little or no effort to limit, monitor or control the rental agents they allow to show your apartment.

Rental services frequently employ new agents on 120-day permits before they’re licensed by the state, and often conduct little or no background screening of those agents, some of whom may have criminal records. The agents themselves, even when honest and well-intentioned, may be naïve, poorly-trained kids bringing opportunistic or intentional thieves or drug-seekers to your apartment.

In light of all the circumstances, I’d argue that it’s reasonable to limit rental service showings to times when you’re able to be physically present. If that doesn’t work for you, have the good sense to lock up or make it difficult to access any valuables, medications and anything you wouldn’t want to be seen by a prospective tenant who’s a law enforcement officer.


  • We have had our clients (the property owner) get upset with us when we had them follow all the CRLTO protocol and initial the best practices recommendations, disclosures, all paperwork etc… when leasing their homes. Several had just “leased” their homes themselves prior to working with us and had little required paperwork in place and did not handle ordinances properly, nor, tenants rights properly.

    These tenant/ owner/ manager issues are also a great argument to renters for owning your own place if at all possible (or at least taking the time to rent from the best owners and management companies even if it means sacrificing some space or amenities).

  • Eric,

    When the CRLTO was first passed, a landlord-oriented attorney and I spoke to a number of landlord meetings, outlining what the law required.

    The landlords were pretty uniformly outraged and we heard a lot of “screw that crap. I’m not going to do that” from the audience. Some of them were taught some very expensive lessons by plaintiffs’ attorneys before they began to comply. Quite a few still have some learning to do.

  • Karen 4 years

    I just woke up to an agent walking in unannounced. I venture to say they don’t do this in Texas, lol.

  • Joe Hinton 4 years

    Every day, my landlord leaves me a slip notifying me that my apartment will be shown in 48 hours time. In effect, they’re establishing a constant window of having my apartment being shown to prospective renters.

    I feel as if the notice to show should only be given when a prospective renter has made an appointment, 48 hours or greater, in advance.

    Is sending me one of these slips every day harassment? It makes me quite uncomfortable in my home.

  • I’m assuming the notices don’t contain a specific time window or any specifics as to who will be conducting the showing.

    If that’s the case your landlord is gutting the advance notice protection that the Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance gives you. In effect he’s giving you a blanket notice that amounts to no notice, in violation of the Ordinance.

    Talk to an attorney experienced in this type of matter. Faced with the prospect of paying your attorney’s legal fees your landlord may rethink his approach.

  • Marissa Dolin 4 years

    I am a renter moving out of my apartment and have come home to lights left on and furniture moved after a showing. Is there anything I can do to prevent this from happening, outside of being home while there is a showing? If not, does the city or other agencies address complaints?

  • Contact your landlord and report the issues you’ve been having. Contacting the rental agency involved is likely to be futile. Governmental agencies are, in my guess, highly unlikely to prioritize dealing with the problems you describe.

  • Dug Salley 4 years

    Does the Landlord-in Chicago need to notify in writing of a previous flood and potential ongoing latent defect with the unit. When I looked at the place I was told they were renovating the unit. I later found out there was a flood in the unit and the defect can’t be easily resolved. What rights do I have.

  • Dug Salley,

    You have the right to consult an attorney. I suggest you do that.

    There’s no way anyone can give you an intelligent answer in an online venue without having a solid grip on the facts – which you only lightly touch on.

  • Natalia 3 years

    I’m currently renting in Chicago and the landlord has decided to put the property up for sale. Could you shed some light on the rights I have in this situation as a tenant. I have rented this apartment for over twenty years, and the lease was verbal. He intends to sell the property as an investment property or as a whole. Currently, he’s been giving me less than 24 hours of notice to show our apartment, 3-4 times a week. This is getting rather frustrating as I still pay my rent in its entirety, but have strangers walking thru my apartment multiple times a week.

    • There’s a completely clear statement of your rights re showings in the post, above.