Like in most states, leases in Illinois may be verbal or written. Under Illinois law (IL Landlord and Tenant Act), all leases give rise to certain rights for tenants without the need for them to be included written in the contract. For example, the tenant has the right to have the locks in the rental unit changed before moving in.
Landlords too have rights that automatically attach like the right to prompt payment of rent and the right to evict the tenant for failure to do so.
These rights may also vary from one county to the next so please check with your local Illinois county and municipality for additional rules and protections for both landlords and tenants.
Warranty of Habitability in Illinois
In Illinois, state law does not explicitly outline specific obligations of landlords when it comes to habitability. However, landlords are still required to make sure the unit is “habitable and fit for living”, which includes the unit’s effect on the life, health and safety of the tenant.
Repairs. Tenants must require repairs in writing. Landlords have 14 days to make the repairs after receiving the notice. If the repair is not made within 14 days, the tenant may repair it themselves and deduct $500 or half the monthly rent (whichever is less) from the next month’s rent.
Evictions in Illinois
In Illinois, landlords are empowered to evict their tenants for several reasons:
- Nonpayment of rent – if a tenant fails to pay rent, they can be issued a 5 Day Notice to Pay Rent, which allows them to pay it within that time before being required to vacate.
- Violation of lease terms – if a tenant violates the terms of a lease, they can be issued a 10 Day Notice to vacate. However, if in Chicago, the tenant is allowed to remedy the situation within those 10 days & remain in the unit if they do.
- Illegal Acts – for illegal behavior, including (but not limited to) buying, selling, using or making illegal drugs, the tenant can be issued a 5 Day Unconditional Quit Notice, requiring them to immediately vacate within that time frame.
After a notice is served, if the tenant does not remedy the situation or vacate the premises as required, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process by filing a Forcible Entry and Detainer lawsuit with the court.
Evictions without a lease. If there is no lease agreement, or if the lease has entered into a month-to-month term, then a landlord can end the tenancy by providing a 30-Day Notice to vacate.
Illegal Evictions. There are a number of circumstances in which a landlord cannot evict a tenant, such as for discriminatory reasons (i.e. based on tenant’s race, nation of origin or sex) or for retaliatory reasons (i.e. in response to a tenant’s complaint to a building inspector). Illinois also provides special protections to victims of domestic violence.
Security Deposits in Illinois
In Illinois, the following protections are given to tenants in regards to security deposits.
- Standard Limit / Maximum Amount – no statutory limit is set on how much a landlord can charge for a security deposit.
- Time Limit for Return – landlords have either 30 days (if deductions are made) or 45 days (if no deductions are made) from the move out date to return the deposit.
- Penalty if Not Returned on Time – if the deposit is not returned on time, the landlord must pay double the original deposit plus applicable legal fees.
- Allowable Deductions – landlords are allowed to make deductions for rent owed, damages beyond normal wear and tear, cleaning costs and other costs associated with breach of the lease agreement.
Additionally, for landlords with 25 or more units, there are requirements on how security deposits are kept and how interest is handled for these holdings.
Lease Termination in Illinois
There are a number of Illinois-specific laws regarding the termination of notices.
Notice Requirements. Assuming that a lease agreement is no longer on a fixed term, that no acts have been committed that qualify for an eviction, and that no other terms were outlined in an existing lease agreement, the amount of notice needed to terminate the lease varies based off how often rent is paid.
- Week-to-week – 7 days notice is required.
- Month-to-month – 30 days notice is required.
- Year-to-year – 60 days notice is required.
Legally Breaking a Lease Early. Unless there are specific terms already outlined in the existing lease agreement (i.e. an early termination clause) or in a new, separate agreement, a tenant can break a lease early for reasons including:
- Active Military Duty – federal law allows service members who are relocating due to deployment or permanent change of station to terminate their lease as early as 30 days from the next rent period.
- Unit is Uninhabitable – a tenant can be “constructively evicted” if the unit is no longer deemed habitable in accordance with health and safety codes.
- Domestic Violence – if a tenant can provide evidence of a credible imminent threat of domestic or sexual violence at the premises or that they were a victim of sexual violence within the previous 60 days, they can provide the landlord with a written 3 day notice to vacate.
If a tenant is unable to legally break their lease early, they are liable for unpaid rent for the remainder of the fixed period. However, in Illinois, landlords are required by law to take reasonable steps to re-rent their unit. If a new tenant rents the unit before the end of the fixed term, the rent received from the new tenant will apply to the debt of the previous tenant.
Rent Increases & Related Fees in Illinois
While legislation on rent control is usually found on the municipality level, Illinois has a few state-level laws on increasing rent, as well as associated fees in regards to rent payments.
Rent control & increases. Landlords do not need a reason to raise the rent and there is no limit on how much a landlord can raise the rent by, or how often they do so, as long as it isn’t during the term of a lease and appropriate notice is given to the tenant (for month-to-month pay periods, 30 days notice from next rent due date).
However, landlords cannot raise the rent of a tenant for discriminatory reasons covered by the Fair Housing Act (i.e. based on the age, race or religion), or for retaliatory reasons such as in response to a tenant reporting a valid health or safety issue.
Rent related fees. Late fees must be explicitly stated in the lease agreement and may not exceed $20 or 20% of rent, whichever is greater. Rent is deemed “late” if it’s not paid before the 5th day of the month. Illinois has no statute regarding fees for bounced checks.
Housing Discrimination in Illinois
Federal and state law in Illinois protect tenants against different forms of discrimination.
Federal Protections. The Fair Housing Act protects tenants from being discriminated against due to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or disability. However, the law does not apply to all housing, such as owner occupied homes with 4 or fewer units or housing operated by religious organizations.
State Protections. The Illinois Human Rights Act gives additional protections to tenants from being discriminated against due to age, ancestry, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, military status, domestic violence history or pregnancy.
Discriminatory Acts & Penalties. Examples of discriminatory actions include refusing to rent, setting different terms, eviction and harassment. If found in violation of the Fair Housing Act or the Illinois Human Rights Act, a landlord can be assessed a maximum civil penalty of $21,039 or $16,000, respectively, for their first violation.
Additional Landlord Tenant Regulations in Illinois
Illinois also maintains several miscellaneous statutes relating to behaviors exhibited by either landlords or tenants over the course of their formal relationship.
Landlord Entry. Illinois does not have a state statute governing a landlord’s right to enter the premises for any reason. However, in Chicago, the law states that a landlord can enter the premises for various reasons (i.e. to make necessary repairs or inspections) and must provide at least 2 days notice, unless in case of emergency.
Small Claims Court. Landlord-tenant disputes that arise from the violation of any state statutes or lease agreement measures are usually handled by the state’s small claims court system. Illinois limits these claims to no more than $10,000. Filing fees vary by county, but are generally less than $250.
Mandatory Disclosures. Prior to renting, the following disclosures are required by state law in Illinois, whether in the lease or in a separate written agreement.
- Lead-based paint. For houses built prior to 1978, federal law requires landlords to provide tenants with information about lead based paint hazards. Read more >
- Radon. Landlords aren’t required to test for radon in Illinois, but if they do and a radon hazard is found, they are required to disclose the results of the test to prospective tenants seeking to rent on the first or second floors above ground level.
- Utility calculations for divided bills. If the landlord wants to divide the utility bill among its tenants, they are required to disclose how the tenant’s share of the bill is calculated, and that the payments of all tenants does not exceed the total utility bill. Additionally, copies of the bills must be provided if requested by the tenant.
- Utility usage of common areas. If a tenant’s utility bill includes usage outside of their own unit, such as a hallway or exterior light, it needs to be disclosed.
Changing the Locks. In Illinois, landlords are required to change the locks on the doors to their rental units after the conclusion of a lease (if in a county with a population of over 3 million people) or at any time when requested by a victim of domestic or sexual abuse. Additionally, changing the locks without the approval of the tenant is classified as the use of force, and as a result is prohibited, unless done so at the conclusion of the full eviction process.
Local Laws in Illinois
Landlord tenant rights are not exclusively governed by state law. Cities and counties may enact their own rules and regulations for renters.
Check your municipality and county laws for additional landlord and tenant rights in Illinois.
Chicago Landlord Tenant Rights
A variety of specialized landlord tenant laws are specific to Chicago and vary from the rest of Illinois state law. You can find a summary of these laws, known as the Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance, on the City of Chicago’s website.
Aurora Landlord Tenant Rights
The city of Aurora instituted several noteworthy housing ordinance changes in 2018. This includes a requirement that all landlords operating within city limits include the “City of Aurora Lease Addendum” in all lease agreements. This addendum includes disclosure information relating to other local ordinances that regulate noise abatement and property maintenance. More information on this and other Aurora-specific housing ordinances can be found here.
Naperville Landlord Tenant Rights
This city of Naperville maintains fair housing protections that exceed those required at a state or federal level. Specifically, the city protects tenants from certain kinds of punitive discrimination based upon their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, familial status, physical or mental handicap or disability, military status, sexual orientation, or legal source of income. More information on how this city addresses complaints made on any of these grounds can be found here.