The information in this page is provided as a free resource for renters in Illinois. It is not legal advice. If you need legal advice or additional legal help, contact https://www.illinoislegalaid.org/.

Does Illinois have “rent control?”

Rent is not regulated in Illinois. This means that the only limit on how much a landlord in Illinois can charge for rent is what people are willing to pay. This is sometimes called a “market rate.”

What does it mean to have a “safe, habitable” place to live in Illinois?

There is no definition of “habitability” in Illinois law, but several high-profile court cases have determined that a warranty of habitability is implied by things like building code. Since there’s no specific law about habitability in Illinois, renters should use the “common law” definition. One such definition comes from Cornell Law School, which defines a habitable residence as “A residence that is fit for human occupation and is free of serious defects that might pose a risk to one’s health and safety.” Additional requirements include “basic services (adequate heat, hot water, and plumbing) as well as a sound structure that does not pose unreasonable safety risks.”

Windows

Windows are not specifically addressed by Illinois’s habitability requirements. Local codes may have more information.

Doors

Illinois landlords must provide a deadbolt lock on each apartment door.

Elevators

Elevators are not specifically addressed by Illinois habitability requirements. Local codes may have more information.

Peepholes

Illinois landlords must provide a peephole or other viewing device on each apartment door.

Heat and Air Conditioning

Landlords are not required to provide heat or air conditioning by Illinois law, but if they do provide either, they must keep them in good repair. Though heat isn’t specifically mentioned, if an apartment is too cold to be safe then a landlord needs to make the repair as soon as reasonably possible.

Hot Water

Hot water is not specifically addressed by Illinois habitability requirements. Local codes may have more information.

Does my landlord have to provide smoke detectors or carbon monoxide detectors in Illinois?

Each dwelling or hotel room must have a working smoke detector located within 15 feet of each sleeping area. The owner is responsible for installation and ensuring common areas have working detectors. Tenants must maintain detectors within their units and notify the owner of issues. Carbon monoxide alarms follow similar rules. Detectors can be battery-powered or wired.

How long does my landlord have to fix problems at my apartment in Illinois?

Usually that depends on how severe the problem is. Illinois law does not state a specific amount of time a landlord has to complete emergency repairs. What is considered a reasonable amount of time depends on the required repair. Illinois landlords should make repairs in a reasonable timeframe. 14 days is typically considered “reasonable.” How can you tell the difference? Conditions that will cause irreparable harm to the apartment or any fixture attached to the apartment if not immediately repaired or any condition that poses an immediate threat to the health or safety of any occupant of the dwelling or any common area are considered “emergency” repairs.

In Illinois, there are specific rules for pest-issues. Illinois law does not state a specific amount of time a landlord has to complete repairs related to pests. What is considered a reasonable amount of time depends on the required repair.

What can I do if my landlord can’t or won’t fix problems at my apartment in Illinois?

Repair and Deduct

If an Illinois landlord fails to make a necessary repair within a reasonable amount of time, a tenant may have the right to pay for the repair and deduct the cost from their rent. However, the tenant must follow specific procedures and requirements set forth in the Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance in order to do so. Tenants may request in writing that the landlord make repairs within 14 days and if the landlord fails to do so the tenant may have the repairs made and deduct up to $500 or 1/2 of the month’s rent, whichever is more, but not to exceed one month’s rent. Repairs must be done in compliance with the Code. Receipt for the repairs must be given to the landlord and no more than the cost of the repairs can be deducted from the rent.

What are the rules for security deposits in Illinois, and how do I get my security deposit refunded?

Some landlords in Illinois are required to pay interest on security deposits. If an apartment complex has 25 or more rental units, and a landlord holds a deposit for 6 months or more, the landlord must refund the deposit with interest when the lease ends and the tenant moves out.

Illinois landlords must return all security deposits and required interest, if any, minus unpaid rent and expenses for damages, within 45 days from the date the tenant moves out. Before expenses for damages can be deducted from a security deposit, landlords must provide the tenant with an itemized statement of the damages within 30 days of when the tenant moves out.

What kinds of notice does my landlord need to give me in Illinois?

Eviction

In Illinois, the amount of notice required for eviction depends on the reason for eviction. Five (5) days notice must be given for non-payment of rent. Ten (10) days notice must be given for violating a lease term.

Condition

For week-to-week leases, Seven (7) days written notice must be given to end the lease and legally evict the tenant. For other leases of any duration less than a year, the landlord must provide 30 days written notice. If you have a year-to-year lease, landlords need to give written notice 60 days before ending the lease—within 4 months preceding the last 60 days of the year.

Rent Increases

Landlords in Illinois are required to provide tenants with written notice of any rent increases. The amount of notice required depends on the length of the lease. landlords must provide 60 days of notice to raise rent if a tenant has lived in the apartment for more than six months but less than three years and 120 days of notice if a tenant has lived in the apartment for more than three years. If the lease is month-to-month, the landlord must provide the tenant with written notice at least 30 days before the rent increase takes effect.

Entry

Illinois law does not require landlords to provide specific advance notice prior to entering a dwelling, but 24 hours is generally considered reasonable notice. In Illinois, landlords can enter without the tenant present and can show an occupied house to prospective tenants or buyers. There are no specific limits on how often landlords can enter for inspections. Landlords can notify tenants verbally or in writing about an intention to enter.

Can I end my lease early in Illinois?

If something comes up in your life, you may find that you need to end your lease early. This can be stressful and very expensive, with most leases including steep penalties and fines for early termination. Here are some potential options.

Military

If you’re active military, you may be able to terminate your lease early under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). The SCRA provides certain protections for active-duty military members, including the right to terminate a lease early if you receive orders for a permanent change of station (PCS) or deployment. To terminate your lease early under the SCRA, you must provide your landlord with written notice and a copy of your orders. The notice must be provided at least 30 days before the date on which you intend to terminate the lease.

What should I know about eviction in Illinois?

If a tenant pays their late rent within the 5-day eviction notice period, the landlord cannot proceed with the eviction.

Where can I get help if I’m being evicted in Illinois?

SixFifty can help!

Now that you know your rights as a renter in Illinois, what can you do? Take action! SixFifty built HelloLandlord with the University of Arizona and Brigham Young University as a free resource for people who can’t afford legal help. You can use HelloLandlord to:

Tens of thousands of Americans have used HelloLandlord to assert their rights. It only takes 5 minutes to generate a high quality letter—the kind of letter a lawyer would write. And we offer discount codes so you can send your letter by mail, right from your computer.

SixFifty is building more tools to help renters all the time. For more information, email probono@sixfifty.com.

Sources