Understanding Illinois Rental Laws

0
171

There are a number of federal, state, and even local municipality laws that govern the renting of apartments to tenants. These laws outline the basis on which landlords can select tenants and the terms of resolving disputes when they arise between landlords and tenants. In this article, we will take a look at those laws as they pertain to Illinois.

> Anti-Discrimination Laws
How Landlords Should Approach Tenant Selection
> Illinois State Laws Regarding Landlord-Tenant Relationships
> Illinois Law Regarding Security Deposits
> Illinois Statues Regarding Rent
> Illinois Statues Regarding Leases and Terms of Lease
> Illinois Statues Regarding the Termination of Leases
Illinois Statues Regarding Eviction
Illinois Law and the Implied Warranty of Habitability
Domestic Violence or Sexual Assault
Landlord Disclosures Under Illinois Law
Retaliation
Help Links for Tenants and Landlords

Anti-Discrimination Laws

Federal Anti-Discrimination Laws

In 1968, an addendum to the Civil Rights Act extended the scope of its power to housing. For that reason, it is known as the Fair Housing Act. The Fair Housing Act prohibits making discriminatory decisions based on key protected characteristics. These characteristics include:

  • Race or color,
  • Religion or creed,
  • Sex or gender,
  • National origin,
  • Familial status,
  • Or disability.

Prohibited actions include:

  • Refusing to rent,
  • Denying amenities,
  • Segregating tenants,
  • Discriminatory language in advertisements,
  • Refusing to allow a disabled person a reasonable accommodation,
  • Providing different lease terms or charging security deposits based on the presence of children,
  • Segregating tenants on the basis of a protected characteristic.

Many of these same laws apply to real estate sales, as well. It is unlawful to say an apartment has been rented or is no longer available when the apartment has been rented.

No-Pets Policies and Service Animals

Under the law, service animals are not considered pets. Their primary function is to aid their owner—not to provide emotional support or companionship. It is therefore unlawful to deny a disabled person access to a rental unit on the basis of a service animal violating a no-pets policy. On the other hand, “therapy animals” are not considered service animals under the law.

Illinois Housing Anti-Discrimination Laws

Most states have their own laws on housing discrimination. In Illinois, this is called Illinois Fair Housing Law and is elaborated under the Illinois Human Rights Act. The law expands on the characteristics protected under federal law to other classes of people. This includes:

  • Ancestry,
  • Age (over 40),
  • Marital status,
  • Citizenship status,
  • Sexual orientation,
  • Gender identity or non-conformity,
  • Restraining order status,
  • Arrest record,
  • Dishonorable discharge,
  • And pregnancy.

How Landlords Should Approach Tenant Selection

Tenant selection should be based on financial information. Landlords are advised to select the first qualified applicant. By doing so, they making their decision-making process transparent and avoid unnecessary lawsuits.

Illinois State Laws Regarding Landlord-Tenant Relationships

Chicago-related laws:

Illinois Laws Regarding Security Deposits

Security deposit laws are governed by both the Security Deposit Return Act and the Security Deposit Interest Act.

Illinois State law does not limit how much a landlord can charge for a security deposit. Typically, it is equal to one month’s rent. The law does, however, stipulate that security deposits must be returned within 45 days of a tenant moving out.

In addition, any landlord who owns more than 25 rental units must repay the security deposit with interest on any lease that is over six months. While there is no statute on how the security deposit must be held, landlords are required to pay interest in the amount of that paid by “the largest commercial bank in the state” to those who have savings accounts.

If a landlord wishes to make deductions from the security deposit, he or she must present the tenant with an itemized checklist within 30 days of the tenant moving out. If the tenant chooses to contest any deduction, it is best that the landlord has receipts to justify spending the tenant’s money.

Lastly, a landlord who in bad faith fails to repay a tenant their security deposit will be required to repay twice that amount plus the tenant’s legal fees and court costs.

Illinois Statutes Regarding Rent

Under Illinois Law, landlords may not increase rent during the period of a fixed end-date lease. In other words, if a tenant signs a lease, the amount agreed to on the lease will remain in effect until the lease terminates. If a tenant is on month-to-month, then the landlord must give the tenant one month’s notice before raising the rent. A tenant on a week-to-week lease will need one week’s notice before a landlord may raise the rent.

A landlord may charge a “reasonable” late fee in the event that the tenant pays late. This late fee cannot exceed 20% of a month’s rent. Landlords should note the consequences of unpaid rent in the lease agreement.

Illinois Statutes Regarding Leases and Terms of Leases

Illinois does not take great aims to determine what terms can or can not be in a lease. Those prohibited under Illinois and federal law mainly deal with civil rights. In essence, landlords can set terms of leases and tenants are free to accept or reject them.

Illinois Statutes Regarding the Termination of Leases

Either the tenant or a landlord may terminate a rental agreement with adequate notice. This is in an attempt to prevent either party from financial hardship. The rules are as follows:

  • A year-to-year lease can be terminated on 60 days notice;
  • A month-to-month lease can be terminated on 30 days notice;
  • A week-to-week lease can be terminated on seven days notice.

Illinois Statutes Regarding Eviction

Landlords may initiate a five-day notice to remedy or quit to a tenant who is delinquent in rent (735 ILCS 5). The tenant can avoid eviction by paying the delinquent rent. The notice is required to state:

  • The delinquent amount of rent;
  • Notice that the tenant can repay the delinquent amount of rent within the five-day period;
  • And, if rent is not paid within that five-day period, the tenancy will be terminated.

The tenant has the right to dispute the amount of rent due and the amount of rent in the written notice should not include late fees or other charges.

Landlords may initiate a 10-day notice to quit to a tenant who has violated some term of the lease. The landlord is not obliged to give the tenant an opportunity to remedy. The notice must contain the specific lease term that was violated and that the tenant’s tenancy is terminated. The tenant has 10 days to vacate the property (735 ILCS 5/9-210).

However, Chicago ordinance allows the tenant to remedy within the 10-day period to avoid terminating the lease.

Evictions must be initiated through court proceedings. A landlord may not lock the tenant out of the property nor shut off the utilities to force the tenant to vacate. A landlord can collect legal fees from a tenant but must make some effort to mitigate damages (such as re-renting the property).

Illinois Law and the Implied Warranty of Habitability

All rental units are rented under the “warranty of habitability.” This means that the landlord is in default of a contract when certain conditions are present. These include:

  • Lack of heat, electricity, running water, or plumbing;
  • Lack of security features such as locks and windows;
  • Violations of local ordinances and building codes;
  • Access to garbage disposal;
  • The presence of pests such as rats;
  • And lack of protection from the weather (roofs, walls, etc.).

A tenant may raise a breach of warranty as a defense to eviction. They may also take affirmative action against the landlord in order to see the habitability of the rental unit restored.

In addition, tenants are allowed to withhold rent (765 ILCS 735) in the event that the landlord has breached a habitability warranty or repair the damage themselves and deduct from the rent. The amount deducted from the rent may not exceed the lesser 50% of one month’s rent or $500. In addition, the tenant is required to give the landlord 14 days notice (765 ILCS 742).

Domestic Violence or Sexual Assault

A tenant who is the victim of domestic violence or sexual assault may terminate a tenancy early. The landlord can ask for proof of the incident. In addition, if the tenant requests that the locks be changed, the landlord must comply with that request. Landlords are prohibited from revealing the status of a tenant as a domestic violence victim to anyone.

Landlord Disclosures Under Illinois Law

Before leasing or renewing a lease, Illinois landlords are required to give their tenants notice of all of the following:

  • If a landlord has been convicted of a municipal code violation within the last 12 months;
  • If the landlord intends to turn off any utility to service the property;
  • And the name, address, and phone number of the individual authorized to manage the property and an individual who is authorized to receive notices or demands.

Retaliation

A landlord may not retaliate against a tenant by initiated a notice to vacate if the tenant has filed a lawful good-faith grievance against the landlord. Courts will assume that the landlord has retaliated unless that the landlord can prove otherwise in court.

This blog entry is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Landlords and Tenants are encouraged to seek specific legal advice for any of the issues as found in this blog.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here