Navigating Illinois landlord-tenant law can seem daunting, but in reality, a basic understanding of the state's laws is enough to help both landlords and tenants solve most issues they face—without assistance from a lawyer. Here's a breakdown of the rules every Illinois landlord and tenant should know.
Yes. There is no law in Illinois that prohibits landlords from charging an application fee.
It depends. A city or county law might prohibit landlords from asking about an applicant's criminal history and running a criminal background check, but there is no statewide law on the topic.
Even if the city or county where the rental is located doesn't prohibit landlords from considering applicants' criminal histories, landlords must be careful. When landlords consider applicants' criminal history, they must do so in a consistent, nondiscriminatory manner. If a landlord's practice of considering criminal history has a discriminatory effect—for example, if the landlord asks only applicants of a certain color for criminal history information—the landlord is engaging in illegal discrimination and can be subject to penalties. Also, landlords can reject applicants only for past convictions that are directly related to the application—in other words, convictions that have a negative bearing on a legitimate business concern of the landlord.
Illinois law doesn't limit how much landlords can charge for a security deposit.
Certain landlords must pay interest on security deposits in Illinois. Landlords who lease rental property that has 25 or more units in either a single building or a complex of buildings located on contiguous parcels must pay interest at a rate equal to the interest paid by the largest commercial bank in the state. (765 Ill. Comp. Stat. 715/1 (2023).)
If the deposit earns $5 or more, the landlord must pay the interest to the tenant within 30 days after the end of each 12-month rental period. At the end of the tenancy, the landlord must pay all interest that's accumulated. (765 Ill. Comp. Stat. 715/2 (2023).)
All other landlords are free to choose whether they'll pay tenants interest on security deposits.
There is no law prohibiting Illinois landlords from charging nonrefundable cleaning fees or pet fees.
Under Illinois law, for properties with 5 or more units, a landlord must return the tenant's security deposit within 30 to 45 days after the tenant moves out—depending on whether the tenant disputes deductions taken out of the security deposit or if an itemized statement and receipts are provided by the landlord. (765 Ill. Comp. Stat. 710/1 (2023).)
Under state law, Illinois landlords must disclose information about the following to tenants:
Both landlords and tenants can sue for up to $10,000 (including court costs) in Illinois small claims courts. Illinois small claims courts can be used for both eviction lawsuits and lawsuits for money damages.
There is no law in Illinois prohibiting landlords from charging late rent fees.
Illinois landlords can't raise the rent during the term of a long-term lease unless the lease specifically allows them to do so.
There's no Illinois law stating specifically how much notice a landlord must give to increase rent when a tenant is renting month-to-month. The general rule is that landlords should give month-to-month tenants 30 days' notice to change the amount of rent due.
Renters should always review their lease or rental agreement to see if it specifies how and when a landlord can increase the rent.
When a repair is required under the lease, a law, an administrative rule, or a local regulation, and the reasonable cost of the repair isn't greater than the lesser of $500 or half of the monthly rent, the tenant can give the landlord a written notice giving the landlord 14 days to make the repair. If the landlord doesn't make the repair within 14 days, the tenant can have the repair made by a tradesperson or supplier unrelated to the tenant.
The tenant can then deduct the amount of the repair from the rent. The tenant must provide the landlord with the invoice from the tradesperson who performed the work. The tenant can't deduct the cost of the repair if the work was needed due to the behavior of the tenant or the tenant's guest. (765 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 742/5 (2023).)
If the repairs needed are severe—enough to make it so the tenant can't safely live in the rental—a court might consider the tenant to be "constructively evicted." This means that the tenant has the right to move out without further liability for rent. Tenants should consult with an attorney before moving out due to a situation like this, because if the tenant's assessment of the damage is incorrect, the landlord might be able to sue the tenant for the remaining rent due under the lease.
When an Illinois tenant fails to pay rent on time, the landlord can give the tenant a five-day notice to pay the rent or quit (move out). The notice will inform the tenant that unless the tenant pays rent in full within the five days, the landlord can begin eviction proceedings against the tenant. (735 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/9-209 (2023).)
When an Illinois tenant violates the lease or rental agreement, the landlord can give the tenant a 10-day notice to quit. The notice should state the reason for the termination, and the landlord doesn't have to give the tenant the chance to correct the violation. If the tenant doesn't leave during those 10 days, the landlord can begin eviction proceedings. (735 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/9-210 (2023).)
Illinois landlords can also evict tenants who use, possess, or sell illegal drugs or controlled substances on the rental premises. The landlord must give the tenant a 5-day unconditional quit notice, telling the tenant they have five days to move out. If the tenant doesn't move out, the landlord can file for eviction. (740 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 40/11 (2023).)
Illinois landlords can end month-to-month tenancies by giving the tenant a 30-day written notice to move out. If the tenant fails to move out after the 30 days have passed, the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit. (735 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/9-207 (2023).)
Month-to-month tenants should provide the landlord with 30 days' written notice of their intent to move out.
In all states, even in the absence of a statute, landlords can enter a rental without giving notice in order to deal with a true emergency (an imminent and serious threat to health, safety, or property); and when the tenant has abandoned the property (moved out without an intent to return).
Illinois law doesn't specify how much notice landlords should give before entering a property. A good rule of thumb is that landlords should give at least 48 hours written notice when the reason for entry isn't urgent, and should enter only during reasonable daytime hours on weekdays.
No. Illinois doesn't have statewide rent control, nor does it allow cities or counties to enact their own rent control laws. (50 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 825/5 (2023).)
Several other landlord-tenant laws in Illinois affect both property owners and renters, including:
If you want to read the text of a law itself, such as state security deposit rules, start by checking citations for Illinois landlord-tenant statutes. To access the statutes themselves, see the state section of the Library of Congress's legal research site. You can search the table of contents for the landlord-tenant statutes. Or, if you don't know the exact statute number, you can enter a keyword that is likely to be in it, such as "nonpayment of rent."
Cities and counties often pass local ordinances, such as health and safety standards, noise and nuisance regulations, and anti-discrimination rules that affect landlords and tenants. Many municipalities have websites—just search for the name of a particular city in Illinois, and then do a search for the codes or ordinances when you're on the site.
State and Local Government on the Net and Municode (click on "Code Library" in the main menu) are good sources for finding local governments online. Also, your local public library or office of the city attorney, mayor, or city or county manager can provide information on local ordinances that affect landlords and tenants in Illinois.
Congress and federal agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), have enacted laws and regulations that apply to the landlord-tenant relationship in Illinois. These laws and regulations address topics such as discrimination and landlord responsibilities to disclose environmental health hazards, such as lead-based paint.
The U.S. Code is the starting place for most federal statutory research. It consists of 53 separate numbered titles, each covering a specific subject matter. Most federal regulations are published in the Code of Federal Regulations ("CFR"). To access the U.S. Code and Code of Federal Regulations online, see the federal section of the Library of Congress's legal research site.
For more information on legal research, check out Legal Research: How to Find & Understand the Law, by Stephen Elias (Nolo). This nontechnical book gives easy-to-use, step-by-step instructions on how to find legal information.
You'll also find a wealth of information in Nolo's landlord-tenant books.