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Illinois Renter's Rights

As a tenant in Illinois you have certain rights and responsibilities just as a landlord does. Reading and understanding your lease agreement is very important when you decide to rent a home in Illinois as many of your responsibilities as a tenant are clearly outlined in this agreement. Understanding your rights as a tenant ensures that you understand how to handle any legal situations or problems that arise while renting a home.

The eviction process in Illinois is thoroughly discussed in Article 9 of Act 5 in the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure which is found in Chapter 735 of the Illinois Statutes. This section governs the way that a lease is terminated and the process of evicting a tenant. As a renter, you should know that a landlord does have the right to file a complaint under the Forcible Entry and Detainer article which may result in them receiving a judgment for money and an eviction which can force you out of the property.

Landlords must abide by the laws and as well as the rules explicitly stated in the lease agreement as must the tenant. In Illinois, there are no rules which state when a landlord may, or may not, enter a tenant's home with reasonable notice and during reasonable times. Generally this means that as a renter, you must make your home reasonably available to your landlord for inspection with notice.

If you decide, as a tenant, to break the lease, you will typically be required to pay the rent for the remainder of the term of the lease unless the landlord and you come to an agreement otherwise. If you do come to a point in which you must break the lease, it's important to do what you can to work with your landlord in coming to a resolution that works for you both. Also keep in mind that the landlord does have a duty to mitigate or work to reduce any losses that may result from a tenant's decision to break a lease and that the tenant is not responsible for continuing to pay rent in the event that the landlord does find a new tenant to occupy the property.

The following situations can place a landlord in violation of a lease agreement:

  • any violation of the terms of the signed lease agreement
  • allowing a property to have uninhabitable conditions
  • keeping a security deposit if no damage has been done to the property
  • failure to pay interest on a security deposit, in the amount of 5% of the deposit from the date it was paid, if the landlord owns more than 25 properties

The following situations can place a tenant in violation of a lease agreement (also known as a broken lease):

  • any violation of the terms of the signed lease agreement
  • failure to pay rent upon the due date
  • failure to remain in accordance with the lease agreement and continue to live at the property until the lease agreement term has ended
  • failure to leave at the end of the lease term (also known as a holdover)
  • causing damage to the rental property

As a tenant, you are allowed to remedy a violation of the lease terms with certain actions. You may file a small claims action for the return of a security deposit if the landlord does not return the deposit to you within 30 days of your vacating the premises upon termination of the lease term. Tenants may not withhold rent nor are they allowed to make repairs to a property and deduct the cost of such off of their rent. Before making any decisions on what actions you can take if your landlord has violated your lease agreement, you may want to speak with an attorney.

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