The Illinois Landlord Tenant Act (ILTA) governs the responsibilities of rental property owners and the tenants who live in their units. Both parties should familiarize themselves with the ILTA, as well as with local tenant/landlord ordinances for the municipality where the property sits, to gain a complete understanding of their rights and obligations in the relationship.
If a landlord doesn't provide heat, gas or water and has the responsibilities for these items in the lease agreement, these infractions constitute lease violations. The landlord has a duty to provide such utilities, referred to as the "Implied Warranty of Habitability," which comes with every Illinois lease by law. For example, failure of the property owner to provide adequate heat or fix a dangerous porch results in a violation of this covenant.
Tenants violate the lease when they do something prohibited in the lease or fail to do something as outlined in the lease. For example, if the tenant allows an adult not on the lease to move into the unit, or if he damages the dwelling, these constitute lease violations. Failure to pay rent or failing to move out at the end of the lease period also results in a lease violation.
Under Illinois law, the landlord has to return the tenant's security deposit if damage beyond "normal "wear and tear has occurred in the unit. Owners with 10 or more rental units must provide the tenant with a written notice of repairs and costs within 30 days after the tenant vacates the premises. If the property owner doesn't issue the notice within 30 days, the landlord has to return the deposit in full within 45 days after the tenant leaves. Owners with 25 or more units have to pay 5 percent interest on the deposit from the date of the payment if he holds the deposit for more than six months.
Tenants and landlords can file suits in small-claims court for money that they each believe the other party owes. A landlord who wants to evict a tenant and receive money damages must file an action referred to as a Forcible Entry and Detainer complaint.
Property owners have to serve tenants the proper notice to initiate the eviction process. The type of notice depends on the reason for the eviction; it's usually a five-day notice for nonpayment of rent or a ten-day notice for lease violations. Typically, the owner may serve the notice by certified mail (return receipt requested) or give it to the tenant or someone else (over the age of 13) who lives in the unit. The owner can post the notice on the door if the tenant has moved. After the notice has expired, the property owner can file suit in the appropriate court and send a copy of the complaint to the tenant.
The tenant can file an "answer" to the complaint or simply show up in court on the date of the hearing. If the tenant doesn't appear, the judge will likely rule in the property owner's favor. Failure of the property owner to appear may result in the case's dismissal. The property owner and the tenant should bring document photographs, witnesses and anything else that will support each side of the case to court.
The Illinois Landlord Tenant Act doesn't give the tenant the right to make repairs to units, withhold rent or deduct money from the rent to make repairs, but some city ordinances may permit exceptions if the property owner receives the proper notice. Landlords may not lock a tenant out of the unit, shut off utilities or remove the tenant's personal property from the dwelling. If the landlord doesn't serve the proper notice in the appropriate manner when going through an eviction, the court may drop the case.