Educate yourself about Illinois landlord tenant law with LandlordStation.com's general overview of the statutes. Staying up-to-date on these laws is vital to you as landlord because understanding both yours and your tenants' rights and obligations under the law helps you to be proactive in avoiding conflict in the first place. Please note that what follows is not legal advice and is meant only as a general overview of landlord tenant law. Always consult a qualified attorney to give you legal advice regarding your own set of circumstances.
When it comes to landlord tenant laws, Illinois governs the full rental relationship under 765 ILCS 705. This set of statutes is also known as the Illinois Landlord and Tenant Act. State laws are not the only rules that govern the landlord-tenant relationship. Federal laws, county codes, and city ordinances may also apply. A good landlord is one who maintains current knowledge of these laws, rules, and regulations.
The first thing any landlord should understand about rental agreements under the Illinois Landlord and Tenant Act is that there are different types of agreements. Illinois landlord tenant law allows for both oral and written leases that can be defined or undefined. Oral agreements are only permissible in this state if the lease is to be for a period that is less than a year. However, the terms in oral agreements are hard to prove in court proceedings, so a written lease is strongly advised. It is also smart to have textual proof of any communications between landlord and tenant.
Under these landlord tenant laws, Illinois mandates the length of notice time that either party in a rental agreement must give before moving, or starting eviction proceedings; it usually in accordance to the length of the lease. For a defined agreement, a 60-day notice must be given for a yearly lease, a 30-day notice for a monthly lease, and 7-day notice for a weekly lease. Length of notice time in an undefined agreement is much harder to determine. Whenever possible, you as landlord should seek to obtain a clearly defined, written lease agreement from your tenant.
There is another factor you must understand as a landlord when reviewing the state's landlord tenant law. Illinois uses legal terms in its statutes that have specific definitions which may differ from your colloquial understanding of the word. Some of the legal terms important for you to understand before reviewing any rental statutes include the following:
Lease – The oral or written agreement by which the landlord allows a tenant to reside in or make use of his or her property in exchange for a return. This in return usually involves money, goods, or services.
Sublease – When a tenant makes his or her lease arrangement with the original tenant of the property. Not allowed in Illinois without permission from the landlord.
Statute – The specific law enacted by a governing body that deals with a particular subject
Breach of Agreement (also known as breaking an agreement) - A violation of the terms of the lease agreement committed by either the tenant or landlord.
Petition (also known as a complaint) - A written request to the court that usually begins lawsuit proceedings. The petition contains the complainant claim and what relief he or she is seeking.
Eviction – A termination of a person's rights to, or ownership of, a property and a physical removal from that property.
Hold-over – The continued dwelling of a tenant on the premises even after the lease has expired.
After you have a better understanding of the legal terms involved in IL landlord tenant law, you can fully comprehend what the law requires from you and your tenant, as well as what it allows in rights for both parties.
A tenant under these rental laws must do the following:
• Pay rent on time
• Keep unit clean and undamaged
• Be responsible for and damages beyond wear and tear – usually covered by the security deposit
• Pay the utility bill when the lease makes the tenant responsible for utilities
• Refrain from altering the rental unit without the landlord's express permission
• Give written notice, usually 30 days, when he or she intends to move or security deposit will be forfeited
In exchange for complying with these responsibilities, Illinois landlord tenant law gives your tenant certain rights, including:
• The right to complain to any government authority without retaliation from you (such as eviction)
• The right to deduct a utility bill payment for which you are responsible from rent
• The right to deduct the cost of necessary repairs from rent
• The rights to an early lease termination in cases of sexual assault, sexual abuse, or domestic violence
• The right to require you to change the locks for a tenant that is a victim of domestic violence
Under these same laws, your responsibilities as landlord include:
• Keeping the rental unit fit for living and in compliance with state and local health and housing codes
• Disclosing existence of Radon in units on or below the second floor
• Making all necessary repairs
• Providing a formula for dividing up split utilities among multiple tenants
• Returning the security deposit within 45 days given normal circumstances
• Providing written description of damages and itemized list of charges deducted from security deposit
• Changing locks and keys between tenants
Remember, you are held to these obligations even when the tenant is not complying with his or her responsibilities. You are also forbidden from taking retaliatory action against your tenant, such as shutting off the utilities or changing the locks, without direct permission from the court.
Your rights as a landlord under IL landlord tenant law include:
• The right to set rent and security deposit amounts
• The right to charge a reasonable late fee for late rent
• The right to make reasonable rules and regulations
• The right to terminate the lease upon giving reasonable notice
• The right to withhold your reason for terminating the lease
• The right to recover court and attorney's fees in any legal proceedings
• The right to require proof of status from tenants claiming to be domestic violence victims
Now that you have read over Landlord Station's general overview of Illinois landlord tenant law, we hope that you are inspired to go further in your research and stay up-to-date on the legal bindings guiding you and your tenants' rental relationships. Not only will it help protect you from costly redress, but it will potentially give you the knowledge you need to become a better, and more proactive landlord. Please understand that this overview is purely for general educational purposes only. If you are seeking to learn more about your specific lease agreements, work with a licensed Illinois lawyer.
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