Illinois Landlord-Tenant Law
The landlord-tenant relationship doesn’t always turn out like you thought it would at the beginning. Over time, you may find that your tenant isn’t always punctual in paying their rent or even paying it in full. Maybe your landlord tends to put off making the repairs you request or never gets around to making them, forcing you to pay out of your own pocket for the repairs. Sometimes even the seemingly smallest of issues can become legal headaches.
Whether you’re a landlord or a tenant, you should typically be able to deal with legal issues without going to court. Some landlord-tenant disputes will leave you with no other option. Both parties need to know the basics of renting out a place, how to collect or pay security deposits, about fair housing laws, etc. This overview of key Illinois landlord-tenant laws will help guide you.
The lease agreement is the foundation of the landlord-tenant relationship. It is a legally binding contract detailing the responsibilities both the landlord and the tenant promise to uphold. In addition to specifics like amenities, renovations and other apartment features, the lease includes legal details like:
- The rent rate and payment schedule.
- The length of the leasing term (weeks, months or years).
- The security deposit amount and what it covers.
- Grounds for lease termination and eviction.
- Repair policy and procedures.
- Roommate and guest policies.
Illinois Fair Housing Laws
Fair housing laws prohibit landlord from discriminating against tenants based on characteristics that are protected in Illinois’s Human Rights Act. Specific actions like altering the terms of a lease agreement or refusing to allow prospective tenants to inspect a rental unit may be considered discriminatory if the landlord does these things because of a tenant’s:
- National origin
- Marital status
- Familial status, including pregnancy or adoption
- Sexual orientation
- Military status
Most landlords in Illinois charge a new tenant a security deposit as part of their lease agreement. The deposit is meant to cover, at minimum, any unpaid rent and repairs for damages beyond normal wear and tear. Landlords may declare a portion of the deposit as nonrefundable to pay for customary services or refurbishment to the rental unit that prepares it for the next tenant.
While Illinois’s laws do not place a statutory limit on how much a landlord may charge for a security deposit, local municipalities may set a deposit cap. Typically, landlords will charge up to one month’s rent as the security deposit.
At the end of the leasing term, landlords are required to return the full refundable portion of the security deposit if no repairs are necessary and every rent payment has been made. If no damages must be repaired, a landlord with five or more rental units must return the deposit within 45 days of the date when the tenant left the unit. If there are damages in need of repair, the landlord must deliver written notice to the tenant with the actual damages and repair costs within 30 days.
Landlords may evict a tenant who hasn’t paid their rent or otherwise violated a portion of their lease agreement. However, landlords must follow a specific legal procedure under the Illinois Forcible Entry and Detainer Act, which protects tenants from unlawful evictions.
Before a landlord may evict a tenant, they must provide an advance notice of intent to the tenant. How far in advance the landlord must provide notice depends on different factors:
- If the tenant hasn’t paid rent, the landlord must provide a five-day advance notice. During the days between receiving the notice and the impending eviction, the tenant may pay the due rent to avoid eviction.
- If the tenant violated any other term of the lease besides not paying rent, the landlord must provide a 10-day advance notice. If the tenant corrects the violation within the 10-day period, they can avoid eviction.
- If the lease wasn’t written or the leasing period is for one month or less, the landlord must provide a 30-day advance notice.
If the notice period expires without remedy to the situation, the landlord can file an eviction complaint to the Circuit Clerk’s office. From there, the landlord may take the tenant to court for an eviction hearing, at which point the tenant may present their defense in an effort to delay or prevent the eviction.
Getting Legal Help from an Illinois Attorney
Whether you are a landlord or a tenant, you may want to take a look at the guide for landlord and tenant rights published by the Southern Illinois University School of Law for more detailed information on Illinois landlord-tenant law. If you find you are in need of legal counsel or advice, you should consider hiring a landlord-tenant lawyer to represent your interests.