If you’re a landlord renting out residential property in Illinois, you want to make sure that your lease or rental agreement complies with state law on issues such as interest payments on security deposits (Illinois requires in some circumstances). Here are a dozen items Illinois landlords should include in their leases and rental agreements.
Every adult who lives in the rental unit, including both members of a married or unmarried couple, should be named as tenants and sign the lease or rental agreement. This makes each tenant legally responsible for all terms, including the full amount of the rent and any damage to the property.
Your agreement should clearly specify that the rental unit is the residence of only the tenants who have signed the lease and their minor children. The value of this clause is that it gives you grounds to evict a tenant who moves in a friend or relative, or sublets the unit, without your permission.
Every Illinois rental document should state whether it is a rental agreement or a fixed-term lease. Here’s the difference:
Your lease or rental agreement should provide specific details on the rent, including:
To avoid confusion and legal hassles with tenants, Illinois leases and rental agreement should be clear on all the details of deposits, including the dollar amount, how it will be used (such as to cover unpaid rent), and how and when you will return the deposit. Illinois landlords who are renting 25 or more units in either a single building, or a complex located on contiguous properties, must pay interest on deposits held for more than six months. Chicago landlords must comply with special requirements regarding interest payments and the type of account where you keep tenant deposits.
To avoid rent-withholding hassles and disputes over security deposits, it’s a good idea to spell out the following in your lease or rental agreement:
To avoid tenant claims of illegal entry or violation of privacy rights, your lease or rental agreement should clarify your legal right of access to the property -- for example, to make repairs -- and state how much advance notice you will provide the tenant before entering. The state of Illinois does not require landlords to give tenants a specified amount of notice before entering, but the city of Chicago does have special rules regarding landlord entry.
To avoid trouble among your tenants, prevent property damage, and limit your exposure to lawsuits from residents and neighbors, you should include an explicit lease or rental agreement clause prohibiting disruptive behavior, such as excessive noise, and illegal activity, such as drug dealing.
If you do not allow pets, be sure your lease or rental agreement is clear on the subject. If you do allow pets, you should identify any special restrictions, such as a limit on the size or number of pets.
Federal law require landlords to make certain lead-based paint disclosures before tenants move in. Illinois also requires that you inform tenants if one or more meters are master-metered and explain how you will allocate costs. Chicago landlords must comply with additional disclosure requirements, such as previous citations for building code violations.
Be sure your lease or rental agreement complies with all relevant state and local Illinois laws, including health and safety codes, occupancy rules, and antidiscrimination laws. Any other legal restrictions, such as limits on the type of business a tenant may run from home, should also be spelled out in the lease or rental agreement. Important rules and regulations covering parking and use of common areas should be specifically mentioned in the lease or rental agreement.
For Illinois rental documents, including leases and rental agreements, see the Real Estate and Rental Property Forms section of Nolo. These ready-to-use legal forms include detailed, clause-by-clause instructions that cover the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants in Illinois. The documents also include specific language for clauses that require it under the city of Chicago’s landlord-tenant ordinance. Options include the following: