Whether you are a landlord or tenant in Illinois, knowing your rights is a must. With years of changes in Illinois landlord-tenant laws, it’s important to stay abreast with the prevailing situation. Plus, there could be variations in landlord-tenant laws based on your city.
Since the landlord-tenant law in Illinois is generally the same, this article will provide a general overview of the important provisions. If you want city-specific laws, you might want to check with your county.
Contents of a Lease Agreement in Illinois
The Illinois Landlord and Tenant Act lists a lease agreement as a requirement for tenancy of at least 12 months (one year). While the landlord may use a verbal agreement, it can be risky due to the lack of physical proof of what they agreed with the tenant.
When drafting a lease agreement, the landlord must include the following clauses:
- The landlord’s and tenant’s name and address
- Rental payment clause
- A description of the rental unit
- The security deposit clause
- Definition of who is responsible for repairing and maintaining the rental unit
There are specific landlord-tenant laws governing each of these clauses in Illinois. This article will henceforth look at Illinois law on some of these clauses.
Laws about Rental Application in Illinois
The landlord-tenant law in Illinois doesn’t prohibit landlords from charging a fee when filing a rental application form. Therefore, tenants should expect to pay a fee while applying for a rental unit.
A landlord may also ask about a prospective tenant’s criminal history if the city or county law doesn’t expressly prohibit it. So, the tenant should be cognizant of their location.
Landlords who wish to know a tenant’s criminal history should be careful not to discriminate against others based on their skin color. If sued, such a landlord could pay certain penalties.
It’s based on past convictions directly related to an application that a landlord can reject. In other words, the conviction should have a direct bearing on the landlord’s business concerns.
According to the Federal Fair Housing Act, a landlord must not discriminate against families with children from renting a rental unit or apartment. A tenant who suffers housing discrimination may report the incident to the Illinois Department of Human Rights.
Laws about Security Deposits in Illinois
Payment of Security Deposit
Illinois law requires a tenant to make a security deposit before occupying the rental unit. The purpose of the security deposit is to pay for damage to the rental unit or rent non-payment. However, the tenant’s security deposit doesn’t exempt them from paying rent for the last month of the lease.
Refund of Security Deposit
The landlord must return the security deposit if there is no extensive damage (and not normal wear and tear) to the rental unit. Illinois tenants may sue landlords who fail to refund the security deposit.
Statement of Damage
A landlord with over five rental units should furnish the tenant with a statement of damage within 30 days. If 30 days lapse without such a statement, the landlord must return the entire security deposit within 45 days of the tenant vacating the house.
Interest on Security Deposits
According to the existing landlord-tenant law, Illinois landlords with over 25 rental units must pay interest on security deposits they hold for over 67 months. The rate of interest is similar to what is paid by the largest bank in Illinois.
Laws About Rent and Rent Increase
Frequency of Rent Payment
Landlord-tenant laws in Illinois give landlords leeway to demand rent weekly or monthly. Whenever they wish to raise the rent, a landlord must give a one-week notice for weekly payment and a 30-day notice for monthly payment.
For fixed-term Illinois tenants, the landlord may only raise rent after lease termination. Remember, there’s no rent control law putting a cap on how much rent a landlord may raise. Therefore, landlords are free to increase it as much as they want since the Rent Control Act has no cap.
Rent for Utilities
A landlord must pay for utilities for the rental unit, failure to which the tenant deducts the amount from the rent. In that case, they will reduce the amount of rent due.
Laws about Lease Termination in Illinois
A landlord may terminate the lease for various reasons and at any time. The reasons for termination of the lease could relate directly to the tenant or not.
Illinois Lease Termination Rules and Regulations
Lease Termination Notice
The landlord must present a written notice about their intention to terminate the lease. The law stipulates how much notice landlords must provide. It could be a 5-day, 14-day, or 30-day notice.
Reasons for Terminating the Lease
A landlord may or may not state reasons for bringing the lease agreement to an end. The purpose of the notice is usually to forewarn the tenant of the impending lease termination.
If a tenant pays rent once a month should expect to get a 30-day notice at the very least. Anything less than that is unfair.
If a tenant pays rent once annually, the landlord must issue a 60-day termination notice. That way, the Illinois landlord-tenant law protects the tenant from unlawful lease termination.
How Not to Evict a Tenant
Landlords cannot evict tenants forcefully by changing locks or turning off utilities. State law also prohibits landlords from ejecting the tenant’s personal property.
Laws in Illinois allow landlords to file a suit against a tenant who declines to vacate the house after getting a notice to do so. The landlord will pay court costs. If the landlord wins the case, the tenant must vacate the rental unit or be forcefully removed by a sheriff.
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Landlord Rights and Responsibilities
The landlord-tenant laws in Illinois have certain guidelines, which every landlord must follow if the lease agreement remains in force. Although these guidelines vary from one tenant to another, they work the same.
Since they own the rental property, landlords have exclusive rights to collect rent when it falls due. They also have the right to retain security deposits if damage to the property exceeds normal wear and tear. The landlord retains the right to evict tenants who do not comply with lease terms.
There are no specific landlord responsibilities in Illinois law. However, the landlord must ensure the rental property is habitable and complies with the local housing code. The landlord must also make repairs within 14 days after the tenant requests them. Based on the rental agreement, a tenant may deduct repair costs from the rent if a landlord fails to make them.
Tenant Rights and Responsibilities
The state law gives tenants the right to habitable housing. Thus, the landlord must present the rental property in good, habitable condition. Where the property gets damaged, the landlord must make repairs in the shortest time possible. Otherwise, the tenant may seek legal advice or make the repairs themselves.
The tenant’s main responsibility is to ensure that rent is paid on time. The following are the things with which tenants must comply:
- The tenant must pay rent regularly
- Keeping the rental unit in good condition
- Regularly maintaining and servicing the utilities
- Providing regular repairs to the rental property
- Ensuring they do not disturb neighbors and other tenants
Even as you learn about the landlord-tenant law in Illinois, it’s critical to know the items to include in a landlord-tenant checklist.
Disclosures and Miscellaneous Landlord-Tenant Laws
There are additional landlord-tenant laws governing disclosures that a landlord must make. This section provides details about these additional provisions. Laws in Illinois require landlords to disclose information about several items, including the following:
1. Master Metered Utilities
A tenant may pay part of a master metered utility. In that case, landlords must provide the tenant with a written copy of how they allocated payments among all their tenants.
2. Rent Concessions
Every rental agreement must describe all rent concessions. The words “Concession Granted” must appear in letters at least half an inch in height. It should also contain the amount and nature of the concession.
Real estate laws in Illinois do not require landlords to test for the presence of radon. However, if the landlord becomes aware of its presence, they must tell every prospective tenant about possible exposure to radon.
4. Smoke Detectors
The landlord must give written information to at least one tenant per dwelling about tests and maintenance of smoke detectors.
5. Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Whenever they test and carry out maintenance on a carbon monoxide alarm, the landlord must inform at least one tenant in a dwelling in writing.
Additional Land-Tenant Law Clauses in Illinois
Some clauses might not be reflected in typical rental agreements. However, when drawing the agreement, the landlord should pay attention to these clauses, which promote a healthy relationship with the tenant.
1. Landlord Right to Entry
While no law in Illinois stipulates when a landlord may enter a rental unit, the landlord is free to enter at any time without prior notice. In Chicago, landlords must provide a two-day notice. In other cities, the landlord and tenant might have to put it down in the agreement.
2. Illinois Small Claims Court
Landlords and tenants may file rental cases of not more than $10,000 in the Illinois small claims court. That may involve rent repayments.
3. Lock Changing
In a county with over three million residents, landlords must change locks on the termination of a lease for security reasons. However, the landlord must provide new locks to tenants who request them after suffering domestic violence.
Does the Law Require you to Have Landlord Insurance?
While the law may not require you to have landlord insurance, you still need it if you lease your house to others. Landlord insurance can protest you in any of the following instances:
- Fire and water damage
- Legal liabilities
- Protection of furnishings
- Protection against natural disasters
Illinois has landlord-tenant laws governing several aspects of the real estate sector. The laws spell out the landlord’s and tenant’s rights and responsibilities. Where there are no clear legal provisions, the landlord and tenant should put it as part of the written agreement.