As is the case in most states, leases in Illinois are considered to valid if they are written or oral. According to Illinois law (IL Landlord and Tenant Act), any rental agreement comes with responsibilities and rights for landlords, such as the right to rental payments and the right to evict if the lease terms are violated.
Tenants also have such rights, including the right to seek habitable housing.
Note: These rights and responsibilities still apply even if they are not explicitly included in the lease agreement.
Landlord Responsibilities in Illinois
Illinois is one of few states that does not explicitly outline the necessary amenities that landlords are responsible for. Rather, landlords have a general responsibility to make sure that units are “habitable and fit for living.” Precedent has determined that this implied warranty of habitability is violated when “the defect must be of such substantial nature as to render the premises unsafe or unsanitary, and thus unfit for occupancy”
Landlords must also make requested repairs within 14 days. If they do not, then tenants may take at least one form of alternative action. They may make the repairs themselves and deduct the cost from future rental payments.
Tenant Responsibilities in Illinois
Apart from paying rent on time, Illinois tenants must:
- Keep the unit clean and undamaged
- Remove and hazards and keep the unit safe for occupancy
- Perform minor repairs and maintenance
- Not disturb other tenants or neighbors
Evictions in Illinois
The most common reasons that Illinois landlords pursue eviction include:
- Nonpayment of rent – If rent is late, landlords can issue a 5-Day Notice to Pay or Quit. If the tenant continues to not pay then the landlord can begin formal eviction proceedings.
- Violation of lease terms – If a lease violation occurs, then landlords may issue a 10-Day Notice to Cure or Quit. If the issue is not remedied then the landlord may begin formal eviction proceedings.
- Illegal acts – If a landlord has documentation of illegal activities taking place on the property, then they may issue a 5-Day Unconditional Notice to Quit.
For at-will tenants, landlords must provide at least 30 days of written notice before eviction. Landlords are also not permitted to evict tenants in retaliation or for discriminatory reasons.
Security Deposits in Illinois
- Standard Limit/Maximum Amount – None
- Time Limit for Return – 30 Days
- Penalty if Not Returned on Time – If a landlord wrongfully withholds rent then they may be required to pay up to twice the amount of the deposit plus any applicable legal fees.
- Allowable Deductions – Missing rent, repairs for damages beyond normal wear and tear, cleaning costs.
Landlords that own more than 25 or more units have special requirements for handling security deposits.
Lease Termination in Illinois
Notice requirements. If a tenant wishes to break a lease, they must give the following amount of notice.
|Rent Payment Frequency||Notice Needed|
Early termination. Illinois tenants may legally break a lease early for the following reasons:
- Early lease termination clause
- Active Military Duty
- Uninhabitable unit
- Domestic violence
Keep in mind that tenants who break their lease may be responsible for paying rent until the end of the original term. Illinois landlords are obligated to re-rent a unit in a reasonable amount of time.
Rent Increases & Related Fees in Illinois
- Rent control. Illinois state law preempts any form of rent control. As such, landlords are allowed to set rental prices to whatever they want.
- Rent increase. Illinois landlords may raise the rent as much as they want as long as it is not during the terms of the lease. For at-will tenants, landlords must give at least 30 days’ notice.
- Rent-related fees. Later fees may not exceed $20 or 20% of rent. Payments are considered late if they are not paid by the 5th day of the month.
Housing Discrimination in Illinois
Protected groups. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability. These rules do not apply to owner-occupied homes or homes operated by religious organizations. Illinois has extra provisions to protect individuals on the basis of their age, ancestry, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, military status, domestic violence history, or pregnancy.
Discriminatory Acts & Penalties. Actions that may be considered discriminatory in Illinois:
- Refusing to rent or buy
- Offering different terms, conditions, or privileges
- Coercion or harassment
If landlords are found guilty of violating the Fair Housing Act or the Illinois Human Rights Act, they can be held liable to up to $21,039 or $16,000 respectively for their first violation.
Additional Landlord Tenant Regulations in Illinois
Landlord Right to Entry in Illinois
Illinois law has no provisions governing landlord right to entry. However, in the city of Chicago, landlords must provide at least 2 days of notice before entering the premises.
Small Claims Court in Illinois
Illinois’s small claims court will handle rent-related cases totaling up to $10,000. Filing fees are generally in the neighborhood of $20.
Landlords are required to give the following mandatory disclosures before executing a lease:
- Lead-based paint. Landlords who own homes built after 1978 must provide information about concentrations of lead paint used in the building.
- Radon. Landlords are required to disclose if a radon hazard is found in or around the property. They are not required to test for Radon though.
- Utility calculations. Landlords are required to discuss how the tenant’s share of the utility bills is calculated. The Landlord must also provide copies of utility bills if the tenant requests.
- Utility usage of common areas. If utility bills include utilities outside of the unit (e.g. hallways or exterior lights) then it must be disclosed.
Changing the Locks in Illinois
In counties with over 3 million people, Illinois landlords must change the locks after the conclusion of a lease. Landlords must also change locks when requested by a victim of domestic violence or sexual abuse. Landlords are prohibited from changing the locks as a form of eviction (i.e. lockouts).
Local Laws in Illinois
Chicago Landlord-Tenant Rights
Chicago has many specialized laws relating to housing. You can find a summary of these different rules and regulations here on the city of Chicago’s website.
Aurora Landlord-Tenant Rights
The city of Aurora includes a requirement that all landlords operating within the city limits include an addendum in their leases that requires disclosure of information relating to other local ordinances that regulate noise abatement and property maintenance. To read more about Aurora-specific policies, click here.
Naperville Landlord-Tenant Rights
The city of Naperville has extra legislation protecting tenants against discrimination based on military status and legal source of income, in addition to all other state protections. More information on these policies can be read here.
In addition to the below, check your local county and municipality for additional information about landlord-tenant regulations.