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Illinois Rental Laws - An Overview of Landlord Tenant Rights in Chicago

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In this article we discuss the Illinois landlord tenant law. The first thing to know about the Illinois landlord tenant law is that some Illinois cities have their own housing ordinances with additional rules and requirements that supersede state law.

This includes the Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance (RLTO) which applies to all properties in the city of Chicago, IL; the Evanston Landlord Tenant Ordinance which applies to properties in Evanston, IL; Mount Prospect, IL has specific rental housing rules and requirements; and finally the Cook County Residential Tenant Landlord Ordinance (RTLO) applies to properties located in suburban Cook County but not in one of the previously mentioned municipalities.

The regulations discussed in this article apply to everywhere else in Illinois.

Under Illinois law, a lease between a landlord and tenant can be established in either of two ways. That is, either through a written document or oral agreement. Once this is done, both parties automatically obtain certain rights and responsibilities. 

As a landlord, you obtain the right to inspect the rental, evict the tenant for a lease violation, change a security deposit, and to increase rent, among others. 

Equally, your tenant obtains several rights. For instance, the right to live in a habitable property, live in peace and quiet, and fair treatment under the Federal Fair Housing Act. 

The tenants and property owners also acquire a number of responsibilities that they must abide by under both state regulation and the lease, such as paying security deposits. 

As a landlord, it's in your best interest to familiarize yourself with Illinois regulation to discharge your landlord duties better and avoid potential legal issues or small claims court with your tenant.

Federal and state regulation may require housing providers to disclose certain information to tenants before the tenancy. In Illinois, a landlord must let the tenant know of the following. 


  • Lead-Based Paint – Do you rent out a home that was built before 1978? If you are, federal regulation requires that you provide this further notice the tenant about lead-based paint concentrations in the unit. 
  • Radon Hazard – A landlord must provide notice about any radon hazards found in or around the property. housing providers are, however, not required to do any tests on the property they rent out. 
  • Shared Utility Arrangements – Where utilities are shared among tenants, state regulation requires that housing providers give this further notice so the tenant knows how their share is going to be calculated. You must also give notice to the tenant with copies of the utility bills whenever they request them.

person singing lease agreement

Illinois Tenant Rights & Responsibilities 

The following are some of the rights tenants in Illinois enjoy under state law. This law outlines the right to:


  • Live in a habitable rental property and have requested repairs made within 14 days. 
  • A proper removal process that is in line with the state’s eviction process. 
  • Be notified if there will be a rent increase so they can prepare for payment.
  • Take protected action like reporting a landlord to a local health agency for code violations without being retaliated upon. 
  • Have the security deposit returned within 45 days after moving out. 
  • A proper notification before termination of a periodic lease written agreement. 
  • Break the lease in Illinois without penalty from landlords for legally justified reasons, such as when starting active military duty. 
  • Be treated fairly by landlords in accordance with the state’s fair housing laws. 
  • All tenants be charged the same security deposits for the same property. 
  • A reasonable late fee with unpaid rent. 
  • Be evicted from the premises by landlords with legal eviction proceedings. 
  • Be provided with further notice from landlords if the premises needs to be inspected. 
  • Be provided with the aforementioned disclosures by landlords before moving in.
  • Live in peace and quiet during the lease. 

As for responsibilities, Illinois tenants are responsible for things like:


  • Keep the premises clean and sanitary during leases. 
  • Abide by the terms of the leasing agreement and pay rent in full for their housing or apartment and on the date specified in the lease agreement.
  • Care for the housing or apartment and to not cause damage exceeding normal wear and tear. 
  • Only break leases when necessary and abide by the laws. 

  • Tenant pays for and completes minor repairs and maintenance of the housing or apartment as may be directed by the leasing agreement. 
  • Comply with an eviction process. 
  • Not to disturb the peace and quiet of other tenants in the housing or apartment. 
  • Abide by the local safety and health codes on the premises and during the tenancy.

Illinois Landlord Rights & Responsibilities 

Equally, Illinois landlord tenant regulations give you certain rights and responsibilities. Some of the rights you obtain include the following. The right to:


  • Enter the rented premises at reasonable times and with reasonable advance notice during the tenancy. 
  • Set the rent price at your discretion and increase it when necessary, thanks to no rent control. 
  • Terminate a periodic leasing agreement as long as you provide the tenant with notice. 
  • Require a tenant to pay a security deposit as part of the move-in costs. You must, however, abide by the state’s security deposit limit. 
  • Evict a tenant for violating a term of the rental agreement, such as failure to pay rent when it’s due.

landlord and tenant shaking hands

Some of the responsibilities you have under state legislation include the following: 


  • Provide the tenant with a home that is habitable and fit for living. 
  • Make repairs within a reasonable time after receiving a written request from the tenant. 
  • Only evict a tenant after obtaining a court order. 
  • Use ethical screening for any prospective tenant. 

  • Abide by the Illinois Human Rights Act. 
  • Properly store the tenant's security deposit. 

  • Follow the judicial Illinois eviction process
  • Not retaliate or discriminate against a tenant for exercising a right. 
  • Abide by the Illinois security deposit laws
  • Provide the tenants with proper notification prior to termination of their periodic leases. 
  • Mitigate damages if the tenant breaks their lease without a legally justified reason. 
  • Provide proper notice when entering a tenant's unit. 
  • Respect the tenant’s right to privacy. 

An Overview of the Landlord-Tenant Laws in Illinois 


1. Tenant Privacy

Illinois doesn’t have a law on landlord entry yet. Some cities like Chicago, however, have laws that specifically describe a landlord’s access rights on rented property. 

Generally speaking, though, a landlord must have a legitimate reason for entry of the rental housing, such as performing repairs, enter during reasonable times, and provide a reasonable advance notice. 


2. Fair Housing Laws

Illinois Fair Housing Laws prohibit housing providers from treating their tenants unfairly due to certain protected classes. The protected classes include: race, color, sex, disability, nationality, familial status, age, sexual orientation, domestic violence history, gender identity, and ancestry. 

Basically, this means that as a landlord, you must not base any of your decisions on any of those classes. For instance, in the application of rules and policies, tenant screening process, or even when evicting a tenant. All your decisions must be consistent and fair.

family sitting at kitchen table



3. Lease Termination

In a periodic lease, both parties in the agreement can terminate the lease after serving proper notice. For example, to terminate a month-to-month lease, all one needs to do is serve the other party a 30 days’ written notice. 

However, when it comes to a fixed-term lease, a tenant must pay rent for the entire term whether or not they live there. The only exception is if the tenant has a legally justified reason to leave. Such as, if they are starting active military duty, the unit becomes uninhabitable, or they become a domestic violence victim. 


4. Tenant Eviction

State law allows housing providers to evict tenants for lease violations, such as failure to pay rent for the rental unit and for causing property damage. From start to finish, the process may take you several months to over a year. 

Bottom Line

Understanding your legal obligations is necessary to be a successful landlord. If you have a question or need expert help in the management of your Chicago rental property, Domain Property Management can help. Get in touch TODAY to learn more! 

Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided in this blog is intended for general guidance and should not be considered as a replacement for professional legal advice. It is important to be aware that laws pertaining to property management may change, rendering this information outdated by the time you read it.

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