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Illinois Landlord Tenant Law - Click here to return to US Landlord

Consumer Fraud Bureau
Office of the Illinois Attorney General

There are many state laws and judicial decisions that give landlords and tenants specific legal rights and responsibilities. The purpose of this brochure is to give you general information on those rights and responsibilities. This brochure should not be used as the final source of information on landlord and tenant law. Consult your local municipality for ordinances regulating landlord and tenant rights.

Also, this brochure does not pertain to you if you live in federally subsidized housing. Tenants living in subsidized housing have rights under federal law not covered in this brochure.


You should demand a written lease to avoid future misunderstandings with your landlord.
You must pay your rent on time.
You must keep the rental unit clean and undamaged.
You are responsible for any damages beyond normal wear and tear.
You must pay the utility bill if the lease makes you responsible.
You may not alter the rental unit without your landlord's approval.
You must give written notice when you intend to move if you don't want to lose your security deposit. Normally, a 30-day notice is sufficient.
The Illinois Retaliatory Eviction Act prohibits your landlord from evicting you for complaining to any governmental authority (housing inspector, human rights commission, etc.).


Must keep the rental unit fit to live in.
Must make all necessary repairs.
Must keep the rental unit in compliance with state and local health and housing codes.
May set the amount of rent and security deposit.
May charge you a late fee for late rent. The late fee must be reasonable.
May make reasonable rules and regulations.
May not enter your rental unit without your prior consent unless an emergency exists.


Your landlord can require you to pay a security deposit which may be used to cover unpaid rent, repair damages to the unit, and clean the unit after you move. The amount of the security deposit is normally equal to one month's rent, however, there is no legal limit on the amount your landlord can require.

Interest on Your Security Deposit

State law requires your landlord to pay you interest on your security deposit if it is held for at least six months and there are at least 25 units in your building or complex. Your landlord must pay you the interest or apply the interest as a credit to your rent every 12 months. You may sue your landlord for willfully failing to pay interest and recover an amount equal to your security deposit, court costs, and attorney's fees.


The Illinois Security Deposit Return Act requires your landlord to return your security deposit in full within 45 days of the date you moved, if:

Your building or complex consists of 5 or more units.
You do not owe any back rent.
You have not damaged the rental unit.
You cleaned the apartment before you moved.

If your landlord refuses to return all or any portion of your security deposit, he/she must give you an itemized statement of the damages along with paid receipts within 30 days of the date you moved. You can sue your landlord to recover your security deposit. If a court finds that your landlord violated the security deposit law, he/she could be liable for damages in an amount equal to two times your security deposit, court costs, and attorney's fees.


In a week-to-week or month-to-month tenancy, the landlord can raise your rent by any amount, if he/she gives you seven days notice for a week-to-week lease or 30 days notice for a month-to-month lease. Your landlord cannot raise your rent if you have a fixed-term lease. In other words, if you have a year lease, your landlord cannot raise your rent prior to the expiration of the lease.

Illinois does not have a rent control law. Therefore, your landlord can raise your rent as much as he/she deems necessary. However, you should contact your local units of government to see if your city or county has a rent control ordinance.


Your landlord must notify you in writing that he/she intends to terminate the lease. If you are renting month-to-month, you are entitled to a 30-day written notice. Leases running year-to-year require a 60-day written notice. YOUR LANDLORD DOES NOT HAVE TO GIVE YOU ANY REASON FOR TERMINATING THE LEASE.


You may withhold rent if the rental unit has substantial building code violations or if the landlord has failed to make repairs which were agreed upon. However, you should first:

Request the City Inspector to inspect for building code violations.
Document all defects with pictures, videos, and statements from reputable contractors.
Request your landlord to make the repairs within a specified time.
Consult an attorney about your legal rights.

Illinois Rental Property Utility Service Act

If your landlord has failed to pay a utility bill for which he/she is legally responsible, you may pay the bill and deduct the payment from your rent.


A landlord may not refuse to rent or lease an apartment or house to potential tenants or have different rental terms, on the grounds of race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex and marital status or disability. Under the Federal Fair Housing Act, it is illegal to discriminate against families with children when leasing a rental unit. Complaints about discrimination may be filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights.


A landlord must file a lawsuit in order to evict you. Your landlord cannot make you move by turning off your utilities. Also, your landlord may not evict you by locking you out, changing the locks or removing your personal property from the rental unit. The eviction process is detailed below:

Your landlord must give you a written notice stating the reason for the eviction. If the reason is for nonpayment, your landlord must give you five days to pay the rent. If the eviction is for violating a provision in the lease, your landlord must give you a 10-day notice.
If you remain in the rental unit after the eviction notice, your landlord can file a lawsuit to evict you.
The Illinois Forcible Entry and Detainer Act requires your landlord to serve you a summons and complaint. The summons will require you to appear in court.
Go to court on the scheduled day. Remember, you have the following rights:

1. legal representation at your cost
2. Trial by jury
3. Present evidence
4. Call your own witnesses
5. Ask questions


The burden of proof is on your landlord. The judge will make a decision. If you lose your case, the judge will order you to vacate the rental unit. However, the judge normally will give you some time (usually 15 days) to move.
You have the right to appeal the decision. This must be done within 30 days after the trial.
If you do not move out, your landlord may ask the Sheriff's Office to physically evict you.



You can use the following defenses to stop an eviction:

You paid the rent during the 5-day notice period.
Your landlord retaliated against you for filing a complaint.
You withheld rent because your landlord failed to pay the utility bills.
You withheld rent because your landlord failed to substantially comply with building codes which rendered the rental unit unfit and uninhabitable.


If you have further questions about landlord and tenant law or a specific problem you may contact:

Your attorney for legal advice;
Legal aid services to determine if you are eligible for free legal services;
The Illinois Lawyer Referral Service for the name and telephone number of a private attorney. The attorney will charge a moderate fee for an initial interview.
The Illinois Department of Human Rights, (217)785-5112 or (217)785-5113, if you have a housing discrimination complaint.

Office of the Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan

500 South Second Street, Springfield, Illinois 62706, (217)782-1090 TTY: (217)785-2771

100 West Randolph Street, Chicago, Illinois 60601, (312)814-3000 TTY: (312)814-3374

1001 East Main, Carbondale, Illinois 62901, (618)457-3505 TTY: (618)457-5509

Springfield, Illinois 1-800-243-0618
Chicago, Illinois 1-800-386-5438
Carbondale, Illinois 1-800-243-0607