In Illinois, a landlord’s obligation for providing a habitable living space is primarily governed by case law and more specifically a Supreme Court ruling, Jack Spring, INC. v. Little (1972) 50 III 2d 351, 280 NE 2d 208. Most states have state statutes regarding habitability; however, this ruling (among others) has established the “implied warranty of habitability.”
Applicable Dwelling Types in Illinois
The implied warranty of habitability in Illinois does not apply to all types of dwellings. See the table below for which are and aren’t included.
|Dwelling Type||Landlord/Tenant Laws Apply?|
|Fraternities/Sororities/Clubs||Not specifically addressed|
|RV parks||Not specifically addressed|
|Mobile home parks||Not specifically addressed|
|Condos||Not specifically addressed|
Landlord Responsibilities in Illinois
The following chart lists possible landlord responsibilities when it comes to habitability. Not all of them are requirements in Illinois, as indicated below.
Note: Some of the below items may not be addressed at the state level but may be addressed on a county or city level. Check your local housing codes to see which additional requirements may apply.
|Habitability Issue||Landlord Responsibility?|
|Provide windows and doors that are in good repair.||Not addressed|
|Ensure the roof, walls, etc., are completely waterproofed and there are no leaks.||Not addressed|
|Provide hot and cold running water.||Not addressed|
|Provide working HVAC equipment.||Not addressed|
|Provide working plumbing and electrical wiring/outlets/ lighting.||Not addressed|
|Provide working gas lines if used for utilities/cooking||Not addressed|
|Provide working sanitation facilities (bathtub/shower, toilet).||Not addressed|
|Provide a trash can (for trash pickup services).||Not addressed|
|Ensure that any stairs and railings are safe.||Not addressed|
|Ensure that all floors are in good condition and safe.||Not addressed|
|Provide fire exits that are usable, safe, and clean.||Not addressed|
|Ensure storage areas, including garages and basements, do not house combustible materials.||Not addressed|
|Provide working smoke detectors||Not addressed|
|Provide a mailbox.||Not addressed|
|Provide working wiring for one telephone jack.||Not addressed|
|Provide working kitchen appliances.||Not addressed|
|Provide working carbon monoxide detector.||Not addressed|
|Provide a working washer/dryer.||Not addressed|
As you can see, Illinois state law does not describe the specific obligations of landlords when it comes to habitability, but Illinois landlords must remain compliant with housing, building, health codes or by community standards. Although there is no specific statute stating habitability laws, landlords are required to make the rental unit habitable and fit for living according to Glasoe v Trinkle (1985) 107 III 2d 1, 88 III Dec 895, 479 NE 2d 915.
It’s important to note that Chicago has their own habitability standards under the Municipal Code of Chicago § 5-12-110. These standards include providing hot/cold running water, sanitary facilities that are in good working order, smoke alarms, HVAC systems, etc.
Landlords are required to exterminate pests, as long as the tenant has not caused the issue by their own actions. The city of Chicago has additional requirements regarding bedbugs that both landlords and tenants must follow.
If a rental unit has been tested and found to contain hazardous levels of radon, landlords are required to disclose that fact to prospective tenants. Landlords are not required to mitigate the radon hazard but must alert tenants to the elevated presence of radon.
Tenant’s Right to Repairs in Illinois
Tenants must request repairs in writing.
- Sending Notice – The landlord will then have 14 days to make the repairs after receiving written notice.
- Landlord Access – Tenants are not required to give the landlord access to the property to make necessary repairs.
Tenant’s Options if Repairs Aren’t Made in Illinois
If repairs aren’t made in a timely manner, the tenant has a few possible options for resolving the issue.
- Withhold Rent – Illinois landlord tenant law allows tenants in Illinois to withhold rent for failure to provide essential services.
- Repair and Deduct – Tenants have the right to repair the issue themselves and deduct the costs for the repair – given that the cost of the repair does not exceed the lesser of $500 or one-half of the monthly rent.
- Lawsuit – Tenants have the right to take legal action for damages resulting from habitability issues.
- Reporting to Public Officials – Landlords can be reported to housing inspectors or appropriate government authority if they are found to be in violation of any local housing codes.
Landlord Retaliation in Illinois
The Illinois Retaliatory Eviction Act prohibits landlords from evicting tenants for complaining to any governmental authority. Tenants in Illinois are protected by this Act against retaliation for:
- A tenant requesting for habitability repairs.
- A tenant has made a complaint to a governmental authority regarding a building or health code violation.
A landlord may not knowingly:
- Increase rent.
- Terminate a tenancy.
- Decrease services.
- Refuse to renew a lease.
- Bring forth an eviction lawsuit.