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Illinois Renters Rights

In Illinois there are lots of state laws and judicial decisions giving both landlords and tenants specific legal rights and responsibilities.

But just because there are laws out there designed to protect both renter and landlord, it doesn’t mean you should ignore common sense when renting a property.

So, it’s a good idea to have a look at the property before you move in. Photograph and record any damage you find and let the landlord know and find out what they are going to do about it. It also always makes sense to get a written lease, signed by both you and your landlord.

Your landlord may already help you do this by having a check-in form that you fill in when you rent the property. This gives you both the chance to agree the state of your property before you move in and what fixtures and fitting it has.

IL Tenants Rights and Responsibilities

Your lease may contain some specific responsibilities – make sure you know what these are and, you are happy with them before you sign. The law also gives you some more general responsibilities as a tenant, such as:

  • You must pay your rent on time
  • You must keep the rental unit clean and undamaged
  • You’re 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 if you decide to move – normally 30 days is enough. Without it you may lose your security deposit

Landlord’s Rights and Responsibilities

You’re not alone. Your landlord has got responsibilities too. Specifically, your landlord must:

  • Keep the rental unit fit to live in
  • Make all necessary repairs
  • Keep the rental unit in compliance with state and local health and housing codes
  • Set the amount of rent and security deposit
  • Charge you a reasonable late fee for late rent


If you ever have any major issues with your landlord, don’t be afraid of raising them with the relevant authorities. Remember, the Illinois Retaliatory Eviction Act prohibits your landlord from evicting you for complaining to any governmental authority – like the housing inspector.

Security Deposits

Your landlord will probably ask you to pay a security deposit. This is supposed to be used to cover unpaid rent, repair damages to the unit and for cleaning after you move– but some landlords see it as a little bonus at the end of your tenancy. But you have a right to get your deposit back as long as you haven’t given your landlord a reason to keep some, or all, of it.

The security deposit is normally equal to one month’s rent, but your landlord can actually ask any amount. However, they probably won’t be too successful in renting out the unit if they ask for too much.

Illinois state law says your landlord has 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.

Getting Your Security Deposit back

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 has 5 units or more
  • You don’t owe any back rent
  • You haven’t damaged the unit
  • You’ve properly cleaned the apartment before moving


If your landlord refuses to return all or some of your deposit, the landlord must give you an itemized statement of the damages backing up cash deductions. The landlord must also provide a copy of all paid receipts within 30 days after you move out. If they can’t or won’t do this, or you disagree with them, you can sue to get your security deposit back.  If a court finds for you, your landlord could be liable for damages up to two times your security deposit, court costs, and attorney’s fees.

Rent Increases

In a week-to-week or month-to-month tenancy, the landlord can raise your rent by any amount. They have to give you seven days notice for a week-to-week lease, or 30 days notice for a month-to-month lease. But they can’t raise your rent if you have a fixed-term lease.

Terminating A Lease

If your landlord wants to end your lease they must let you know in advance in writing. For month-to-month rentals, you are entitled to 30-days notice. For year-to-year leases you’re entitled to 60-days.

Illinois Rental Property Utility Service Act

If your landlord fails to pay a utility bill for which they’re legally responsible you can pay the bill and deduct it from your rent.

The Eviction Process

If your landlord wants to evict you they must file a lawsuit. They can’t try and force you out by turning off your utilities, changing the locks or removing your stuff.

They have to give you a written notice stating the reason behind the eviction. If it’s for non-payment of rent you’ve got five days to pay up. If it’s for violating a provision in the lease, your must be given ten days notice. If you’re still in the rental unit after the eviction notice, your landlord can file a lawsuit to evict you.

The Illinois Forcible Entry and Detainer Act means your landlord must serve a summons and complaint. You’ll have to appear in court if you want to fight your case. 

It’s up to the landlord to prove his case. You can stop the eviction if you’ve paid the rent within the 5-day notice period, your landlord is retaliating against you for filing a complaint, or you’ve withheld rent because you landlord didn’t pay the utility bills.

If you lose your case, the judge will order you to vacate the rental unit – but they’ll normally give you some time to move - and you do have the right to appeal within 30 days of the trial. If you don’t move out, your landlord can ask the Sheriff’s Office to evict you. Remember, it’s illegal for a landlord to evict you by locking you out.

Protect your possessions

Renters law is long and can be complicated. But we hope this has given you a good start when it comes to knowing your rights in Illinois. If you ever do end up in a dispute with your landlord and it starts to get complicated it may be a good idea to get professional legal advice.

Another way you can protect yourself is to get our Illinois Renters Insurance. It covers you things which your landlord’s insurance won’t – like your personal possessions including DVDs, CDs, TVs, sound systems, clothes and books.

In fact for less than a dollar a day* you’re covered for:

  • Theft, fire, wind, smoke and vandalism coverage
  • Water damage liability protection for your unit
  • Personal liability coverage


The last point about personal liability is an important feature… for example, if you accidentally damage your landlord’s or neighbor’s property, say by overflowing the bath, you won’t end up out of pocket. Coverage is available in minutes, so why not get a quote and get protected today?

Find out more here and get your quote online in minutes

*Based on a national average cost of $10,000 personal property coverage, $50,000 personal liability coverage, $250 deductible, and replacement cost. Visit our website for an exact quote based on your state and the amount of coverage you need.

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All insurance products are offered by The Signal, L.P. The Signal, L.P. is a licensed Insurance agency appointed by American Bankers Insurance Company of Florida and American Security Insurance Company. American Bankers Insurance Company of Florida and American Security Insurance Company are Assurant, Inc. companies licensed to offer insurance products. Protect Your Bubble, the Protect Your Bubble logo, Bubble and Squeak and other Protect Your Bubble trademarks, service marks, graphics and logos used in connection with this website are trademarks of Assurant, Inc. in the United States.