In Illinois, landlords and tenants must understand the state's rental laws that directly affect their rights, duties, and interactions. While Illinois' landlord-tenant laws are comprehensive and useful, their complexity can feel overwhelming for many.
To assist landlords and tenants in grasping their rights and responsibilities, we've created this complete guide to Illinois' rental statutes. Here, landlords can learn how to safeguard their rental properties and build positive relationships with renters. At the same time, tenants can gain important knowledge needed to assert their basic rights.
Covering a range of topics such as tenant screening, security deposits, lease agreements, and, of course, the eviction process, this guide will help you comprehend the details of The Prairie State’s law under 765 ILCS 705-750.
Illinois is only considered somewhat of a landlord-friendly state. While factors like no rent control or security deposit limitations favor landlords, the state has restrictions that limit what they can do to lease their property. Plus, much of the time have more leverage in a lease agreement than the landlord does. This landlord-friendly state ranking list puts Illinois in 43rd place, noting that the state’s rental laws lean in favor of tenants.
Illinois law equips landlords and real estate investors with specific rights that enable them to operate profitable and streamlined rental enterprises, while also providing legal safeguards. A few of their primary rights include:
While landlords in Illinois have many rights, they also bear specific responsibilities essential for ensuring a seamless tenancy and a secure living environment for their tenants. Their main duties include:
Similar to landlords, Illinois rental law equips renters with fundamental rights that protect their safety and health while residing in a rental unit. Some of their main rights include:
Illinois tenants also have their own set of responsibilities to uphold to maintain a respectful landlord-tenant relationship. Their main duties include:
Illinois landlord-tenant law allows rental property owners to request rental applications and screen prospective tenants. The state does not limit how much a landlord can charge for a rental application fee and does not require them to be refundable for potential tenants who aren’t selected.
Additionally, the state does not restrict any specific reports, like a background for credit check, from being used in tenant screening. But it’s important to note that the Federal Fair Housing Act and local ordinances may prevent how the gathered information is used.
Illinois law does not require lease agreements to be in writing, unless it’s for a lease term of one year or greater. However, it’s always recommended to document rental agreements in writing since it grants important rights and responsibilities to both the renter and landlord.
While there are no specific requirements for the contents of an Illinois rental agreement, it’s important to include certain information in the agreement such as name and address of the landlord and tenant, rental payment and increase clauses, and security deposit clauses.
If a tenant wishes to terminate a lease early, they must provide a certain amount of notice to the landlord. Week-to-week leases are required to provide seven days’ notice, month-to-month leases are required to provide 30 days’ notice, and year-long leases are required to provide 60 days’ notice.
Tenants can terminate a rental agreement early for the following reasons:
It’s important to note that tenants who break their lease early may still be responsible for paying the rest of the rent owed on the lease. However, the landlord should do their best to re-rent a unit in a reasonable amount of time.
Illinois landlords are allowed to collect a security deposit at the start of a tenancy to cover property damage beyond normal wear and tear, plus other unforeseen costs like unpaid rent.
There is no limit on how much a landlord can charge for a security deposit, except if the unit is a mobile home, for which landlords can only charge up to one month’s rent.
Other important Illinois security deposit laws landlords should note:
At the end of a lease, landlords have 45 days to return the tenant's security deposit. If the landlord made deductions, they have 30 days to return it.
Landlords can legally deduct a portion or all of the funds from the security deposit for reasons including unpaid rent and utilities, damage beyond normal wear and tear, costs due to breaching the lease, and charges mentioned in the lease.
If the deposit is returned late or not returned at all, Illinois tenants can sue for twice the deposit, plus amount wrongfully withheld, court costs, and lawyer fees.
Illinois does not have rent control laws and prevents towns and cities from creating their own rent control laws. This allows landlords across the state to charge an amount of rent they deem appropriate for their property. Additionally, Illinois rental law does not require rent payments to be made at any certain time or in a particular payment method.
Landlords can also raise rent as much as they want and as often as they choose so as long as it’s not during the lease term and it’s included in the lease agreement. State laws also don’t specify how much notice needs to be provided to the tenant before raising rent, thus, should be worked out between the landlord and tenant.
If a tenant fails to pay rent on time, landlords can charge a late fee, but can’t charge a late fee until after five days after the rent payment due date. Late fees cannot be greater than $20 per day or 20% of the total rent payment price.
Illinois differs from most states because it only has a few statutes covering requirements for legal habitability. Generally, landlords in the state are required to ensure their rental property is “habitable and fit for living.” At minimum, this means it complies with local housing and building codes.
After receiving written notice from a tenant, landlords have 14 days to make repairs or address a maintenance issue. If the landlord fails to make the repair requested repairs in that time frame, tenants can use the “repair and deduct” remedy if the cost of the repair is less than or equal to the lesser of $500 or one-half of the monthly rent. They may also choose to report the code violations to the appropriate government authorities.
In Illinois, tenants may abandon the property altogether if the landlord does not maintain it in a livable condition. This would be considered “constructive eviction” theory.
Illinois does not have any specific statewide statutes covering notice of entry laws. This leaves it up to the renter and landlord to come to an agreement on a reasonable manner and time of entry. It’s generally recommended that landlords provide at least 24 to 48 hours of notice before entering the property. But, it’s important to note that notice of entry ordinances may vary from city to city.
There are certain legal reasons a landlord can move forward with the eviction procedure in Illinois. The main reasons and the required notice period are as follows:
Like in most states, self-help evictions are illegal in Illinois. Self-help evictions in Illinois include locking tenants out of the property or changing the locks.
In addition to addressing issues such as repairs and evictions, Illinois state law also covers topics such as housing discrimination and landlord retaliation. Let's explore some of these topics below.
In Illinois, discrimination is illegal under both state law and the Federal Fair Housing Act. The Illinois Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, national origin, disability, military status, ancestry, marital status, unfavorable discharge from military service, pregnancy, arrest record, familial status (families with children under 18 years old), source of income (effective 1/1/23), and order of protection status.
It is also against the law in Illinois to discriminate in all aspects of real estate transactions, including renting or leasing, based on a tenant's source of income, such as Housing Choice Vouchers (Section 8) or disability payments.
It’s illegal for landlords in Illinois to retaliate against their tenants for taking protected actions like reporting the landlord to a government body for housing code violations.
Retaliatory actions in Illinois include threatening to evict the tenant and refusing lease renewal.
Illinois state law requires landlords to make the following disclosures at the beginning of a lease:
Gaining a strong grasp of Illinois' rental laws is vital for nurturing a healthy and positive landlord-tenant relationship. These comprehensive regulations are designed to uphold the rights and responsibilities of both parties, fostering an environment of fairness and equilibrium.
For landlords operating in Illinois, comprehending and adhering to these laws not only safeguards their investments but also fosters favorable interactions with their tenants. Simultaneously, these regulations establish the foundation necessary for a secure and considerate living space that tenants can embrace as a home.
Looking for more Illinois real estate insights? Get our Guide to Illinois Landlord Insurance.
In addition to this guide, here are a few resources that cover Illinois state and city laws, ensuring you have the information you need to comply with your rental property’s specific regulations and make informed decisions about your rental business.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this post does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials are for general informational purposes only. This content may not constitute the most up-to-date legal information. No reader, user, or browser of this article should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information herein without first seeking the advice of a legal professional.