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Before You Sign Your Lease

Read Your Lease!!!

Understanding your lease is essential to making sure you are in a fair, responsible agreement with your landlord.

Occupancy of Dwelling Units - City of Evanston Ordinance 6-4-1-14

This ordinance requires that no more than 3 unrelated individuals live in any rental unit, apartment, or house. The definitions of the various types of "families" is found in 6-18-3 Definitions. The zoning board may notify landlords that they must choose to pay a fine or terminate the lease and evict tenants where there are more than 3 unrelated people in one unit.

Learn Official City Information About the Property


For additional information regarding the property owner/landlord/etc., please refer to one of the publicly available "review and rating" services under their "real estate" section. These public sites give tenants, parents, neighbors, etc., a forum to express their rental experience in the Evanston/Chicago-metro communities.

Consider Transportation Options

Before you commit to living somewhere, be sure to think about transportation. Explore the different options that are available near your future residence here.

Model Lease

Evanston publishes a model lease based on its Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance (ERLTO). You can find both a summary of the ERLTO, and the model lease, on the City of Evanston's website.

Students may wish to use the model as a guideline for any lease signed into while at Northwestern. Leases can vary property to property, so make sure that you understand the terms of the agreement you are signing into.

Questions for Landlords

It's important to understand everything about the agreement you sign into. Remember that you are bound to the terms for the entirety of your stay in the premise. Your landlord should be able to answer all of the questions below. Also consider using the Property Checklist (docx) while walking through potential housing.