An Illinois residential lease agreement sets forth the rights and obligations of property owners or landlords and those of the tenants.
In conjunction with state law, landlords cannot discriminate against tenants by refusing to rent to or by evicting persons based on race, religion, gender, marital status, color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability. Retaliatory measures against tenants who exercise their rights are also prohibited and can subject landlords to harsh penalties.
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Illinois has not adopted the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act so the rights that tenants have are largely defined by what is included in the lease. However, with every lease there is an implied warranty of habitability. This means that the landlord has to provide a premises fit for human habitation and include essential services such as heat, hot water, electricity, and sewer as well as ensure the property is free from rodent or other pest infestation.
Residential lease agreements in Illinois contain certain basic provisions:
- Name and address of landlord and where and to whom rent payments are to be made
- Names of the tenants who will be inhabiting the premises
- Amount of rent and due date of each month
- How rent is to be paid—mail or in person or if by check only
- If late fees are to assessed and in what amount
- Fees assessed for returned checks
- Security deposit
- Type of tenancy—most are yearly
- Tenant’s responsibilities
- Landlord responsibilities
- Restrictions on tenant alterations and repairs without landlord consent
- Amount of advance notice before landlord may enter to make repairs
- Restrictions on offensive and illegal tenant activity
- Pet clause
- Limits on how premises may be used—no business operations allowed
- Sublease provision—not permitted unless expressly stated otherwise
- Parking and use of common areas
An Illinois residential lease agreement may not contain certain provisions, including:
- that tenant waives the right to sue the landlord for personal injury or for any other cause of action or waives remedies or liabilities granted by rights under state or federal law including the right to a jury trial
- that the landlord may terminate the lease for nonpayment of rent or for breach of any other provision or take measures to evict the tenant without a court order
- that the landlord may terminate the lease if the tenant bears a child or for any other discriminatory or retaliatory reason
No Constructive Eviction
Forcing a tenant to vacate without a court order is “constructive eviction” and is illegal. This includes shutting off essential utilities, locking the tenant out, removing the tenant’s personal property from the unit or failing to make the necessary repairs to make the unit habitable.
Landlords who own less than 25 units in one complex or building may charge whatever they wish for a security deposit with no other requirements. Otherwise, you have the following rules to follow:
- Pay the tenant interest if the deposit is kept for at least 6 months
- The interest rate must be equal to that paid on minimum deposit savings accounts by the largest commercial bank in Illinois
- Pay the tenant the interest their account has accrued within 30 days of the end of each 12-month lease term or credit it toward the following month’s rent
Chicago landlords are required to have the security deposit in an interest bearing account to pay the tenant regardless of how many units they own in a building or complex.
As an Illinois residential landlord, you may retain the security deposit under the following circumstances:
- Damage to the premises caused by the negligence of the tenant or guests that is not normal wear and tear
- Unpaid rent
- Cleaning costs
- Unpaid utility bills
- Any additional costs associated with a breach of the lease
There are certain requirements for landlords who own at least 5 units regarding return of the security deposit:
- You have 30-days from the day your tenant vacated the unit to notify tenant of intent to keep all or a portion of the deposit
- Include written itemized statement of deductions
- Provide actual or estimated costs of repairs
- Submit copies of receipts or invoices for repair
- If there is an estimate only within the 30-days, provide a copy of the receipt indicating actual costs after an additional 30-days
- If you intend to return all of the deposit, you have 45 days from the date the tenant vacated the premises to return it with no advance written notice required
A failure by you to follow these rules can subject you to a penalty of having to pay double the full security deposit owed plus attorney’s fees and costs, if any.
Right of Entry by Landlord
Before you can enter a leased premises, you must give the tenant reasonable notice. There is no minimum time but the time–either 12 or 24 hours–should be stated in the lease agreement. Landlords can enter to make necessary or requested repairs or if there is an emergency. You can also gain entry to show the premises to prospective buyers or prospective renters if the tenant gave notice to vacate but any entry time should be done with the tenant’s convenience in mind.
A landlord may not enter on a frequent or regular basis without a valid reason that mainly includes making needed repairs.
There are certain disclosures that state and federal law requires be made to tenants:
- That if the tenant pays to a master metered utility, a copy of the formula used to allocate the payments to the utility among the tenants
- Written disclosure that a radon test indicates it is present in the unit
- If there is a presence of lead-based paint
You can increase the rent by any amount by giving the tenant 7 days’ notice for a week-to-week lease and 30-days for a month-to-month. Rent increases are prohibited in fixed-term leases such as a lease for one year. In that case, you can increase it after the year has expired. There are no rent control laws in Illinois.
Termination of Lease
Illinois law does not require that a termination notice be sent to a tenant at the expiration of the lease term unless the landlord intends to bring an action in forcible entry and detainer. Chicago ordinances, however, do require a notice of termination at least 30-days before it expires or of the landlord’s intention to not renew the lease.
Notice to Quit
In the event of nonpayment of rent, the landlord may serve a 5-Day Notice to Quit to the tenant that the lease will terminate in 5 days unless the full rent is paid. This notice does not apply to any other reasons for terminating the lease. Tender of the rent to the landlord defeats any action by the property owner to possession. A landlord can choose to accept partial rent payment in return for continuing the lease. A 10-Day Notice to Quit is for any other reason for terminating the lease.
Notice to Vacate or Terminate
For oral or written month-to-month leases, a written 30-day notice is needed to terminate the lease, which must state the last date of the rental term. A tenant needs to give 30-days’ notice to vacate unless the lease states a longer time period. Yearly leases require 60-days’ notice to vacate.
Service of Notice
All notices must be served by personal service, on a person at least 13 years of age who is residing in the premises, or by registered or certified mail with return receipt. If it is vacant or no one is in possession, the notice can be posted.
Duty to Mitigate
If the tenant breaks the lease or vacates before the lease expires, the landlord has a duty to mitigate his damages by using good faith efforts to find another tenant. If so, the tenant is only responsible for the unpaid period.
A tenant can bring a small claim court action if the landlord fails to provide essential services such as electricity, heat, hot water, sewer and garbage. If a utility is in the landlord’s name but is not paid, the tenant has the right to have the utility placed in the tenant’s name provided the requisite deposit is made and sufficient credit is established. A tenant can also bring an action for the landlord’s failure to abide by the security deposit laws as indicated herein.
Unlike other states, a tenant has no right to deduct all or any portion of the rent to make necessary repairs even if notice has been given to the landlord who fails to comply.
An Illinois residential lease agreement is a contractual arrangement that must contain essential provisions and disclosures. Have a landlord/tenant attorney review your lease to ensure it complies with all state laws and that your fully understand your rights and obligations.
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