House & Apartment

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Helping clients with landlord and tenant cases

Local, state, and federal laws

Eviction Act, 735 ILCS 5/9, 101 et seq.

Affirmative Defense, 735 ILCS 5/9-106.2
Landlord and Tenant Act, 765 ILCS 705/5 et seq.
Security Deposit Return Act, 765 ILCS 710/1
Security Deposit Interest Act, 765 ILCS 715/1,2
Rental Property Utility Service Act, 765 ILCS 735/1 et seq.
Fair Housing Act, 42 USC §  3601 et seq.
Illinois Human Rights Act, 775 ILCS 5/1-101 et seq.
Retaliatory Eviction Act, 765 ILCS 720 /1 et seq.
Illinois Residential Tenant's Right to Repair Act, 765 ILCS 742/5 et seq.
Tenant Utility Payment Disclosure Act 765 ILCS 740/1 et seq.
Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance, Municipal Code of Chicago, Section 5-12-080 other local ordinances may apply, for example, the Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance of Evanston, the Cook County Residential Tenant Landlord Ordinance, or the Oak Park Residential Tenant Landlord Ordinance.

Note: State and federal eviction moratorium orders may or may not currently be in place based on the changing conditions of the Covid-19 pandemic. See the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website and the Illinois Eviction Protection page for additional details.


Leases may be oral or written. Written leases are typically form leases presented to the tenant by the lessor. Tenant applicants can always try to negotiate with prospective lessors the terms of form leases presented to them. A summary of the Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance (RLTO) must be attached to the lease of units covered by the RLTO.


A landlord must give notice of the following before leasing or renewing lease:

  • Any municipal code violations from the past 12 months;
  • Any intent to shut off water, gas, electric or any other utility service to the property;
  • The tenant may terminate the lease with a 14-day notice if there is a violation which impacts the habitability of the unit not repaired by the landlord within those 14 days;
  • The tenant can recover the greater of one month’s rent or actual damages, plus court costs and attorney’s fees.

Even after leasing the landlord has a continuing duty to provide such notices.

Landlord or landlord’s agent must notify the tenant in writing, at or before the commencement of the tenancy, of the following:

  • The name address and phone number of the owner or person authorized to manage the premises
  • A person authorized to receive service of process on behalf of the owner 
  • A person authorized to receive notices and demands

If no agent is disclosed, agency defaults to the person who entered into the lease agreement with the tenant. The landlord has a continuing obligation to update this information. If the landlord does not comply the tenant can make a written request for the information.

If the landlord does not provide the information after a written request from the tenant, the tenant may terminate the lease. The tenant may also sue and recover the greater of one month’s rent or actual damages and court costs and attorney’s fees.


Where no lease term is specified in an oral or written lease, courts imply renewable lease terms for the periods for which rental payments are paid, e.g., a month to month tenancy where rent is paid every month, a week to week tenancy where rent is paid every week.

Many form leases provide for renewal of the tenancy on a periodic basis, for example, month to month after the expiration of the first lease term.

Construction of leases

Generally, contract rules of construction apply. Midland Management Co. v. Helgason 158 Ill.2d 97, 630 N.E.2d 836 (1994). Ambiguities are construed against the drafter. Rose v. Chicago Housing Authority 148 Ill Dec. 534, 560 N.E. 2d 1131 (1990), American Apartment Management Co. v. Phillips 210 Ill Dec. 639, 653 N.E. 2d 834 (1995).

Penalty Clauses

Lease provisions that permit penalties may be unenforceable. Examples may be late charges unrelated to the landlord’s actual cost of seeking the rent due. Builder’s Concrete Co. v. Fred Faubel and Sons, 58 Ill. App.3d 100, 373 N.E.2d 863, 15 Ill.Dec. 517 (3rd Dist. 1978). Excessive late fees are prohibited by Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance 5-12-140h, limiting a late fee to $10 for the first $500 of rent and 5% of any amount over $500. If a landlord attempts to enforce an excessive late fee, the tenant is entitled to two months rent.

Warranty of habitability

A warranty of habitability is implied in every residential lease. Jack Spring v. Little, 50 Ill.2d 351, 280 N.E. 2d 208 (1972); Glasoe v. Trinkle, 107 Ill.2d 1, 479 N.E.2d 915, 88 Ill Dec. 895 (1985).  Tenants may enforce this warranty in affirmative lawsuits, or in defense to eviction actions based on their non-payment of rent. 

Covenant of quiet enjoyment

Every tenant is entitled to the covenant of quiet enjoyment. The landlord may not interfere with the tenant’s quiet enjoyment, for example, by entering the premises without the tenant’s permission or as provided in the parties' lease. Chapman v. Brokaw, 588 N.E.2d 462, 167 Ill. Dec. 821 (3rd1992).

Security deposits

Security Deposit Return Act, 765 ILCS 710 / 0.01

If the residential real property contains five or more units, a lessor who has received a security deposit from a tenant must provide the tenant with a written statement of any damage to the property before deducting repair costs from the security deposit. The lessor may not withhold any part of the deposit as compensation for property damage unless the lessor has, within 30 days of the date the tenant vacates, sent the tenant a written itemized statement of the damages allegedly caused by the tenant to the premises and the actual or estimated cost of repair of the damages, with any paid receipts, or copies, attached. The lessor may include a reasonable cost for his labor if completing the repairs himself. If only an estimate is given, the lessor must give the tenant paid receipts showing the actual cost within 30 days from the date of the itemized statement. If the lessor does not furnish the tenant with the statement and receipts, the lessor must, within 45 days, return the security deposit to the tenant. In suburban Cook County it must be returned within 30 days.

The Security Deposit Return Act does not require a lessor to send any statement to the tenant if the lessor withheld the security deposit because of unpaid rent and not because of property damage. This Act was intended by the legislature to apply only where part or all of the security deposit is retained for claimed property damage and is inapplicable to situations where there is a good-faith dispute over a deposit for reasons other than a claim for property damage. Ikari v. Mason Prop., Ill.App.3d 222, 731 N.E.2d 975 (2d Dist. 2000).

Note: Effective January 1, 2018, the rules in the Security Deposit Return Act are slightly modified. See Public Act 100-0269

Tenant remedy: The tenant may file an action in circuit court if the lessor violates the Security Deposit Return Act. If the court finds that the lessor has refused to provide the statement as required or has provided a statement in bad faith and has failed to return the deposit timely, the lessor is liable for twice the security deposit, court costs, and reasonable attorney's fees. The tenant should also demand the return of the deposit itself in addition to the penalty of twice the deposit. In suburban Cook County, a tenant can recover two times the security deposit and reasonable attorney's fees.

The Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance (RLTO)

Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance, Municipal Code of Chicago, Section 5-12-080
The Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance (CRLTO) also provides a tenant with protections as to the holding and return of a security deposit.

Applicability of Chicago ordinance

The Chicago ordinance applies to dwelling units in Chicago, except the following:

  • An owner-occupied apartment building containing six apartments or less
  • A hotel, motel, inn, rooming house, or boarding house, unless the tenant has lived in the unit for more than 31 days and pays monthly rent
  • A hospital, convent, monastery, extended care facility, not-for-profit home for the aged, temporary overnight or transitional shelter, or school dormitory
  • A dwelling unit that is occupied by a purchaser under a real estate purchase contract before transfer of title to the purchaser or occupied by a seller under a real estate purchase contract after transfer of title to the seller
  • A building owned by the tenant's employer, if the tenant only has the right to live in the building if the tenant is employed in or about the premises, or
  • A dwelling unit in a cooperative occupied by a holder of a proprietary lease
Requirements on the landlord for holding a security deposit

Under the Chicago ordinance, the following requirements pertain to a landlord holding a security deposit:

  • The landlord must hold the deposit in a federally insured, interest-bearing bank account;
  • Landlord shall not commingle the deposit with the landlord’s assets;
  • The landlord must provide a tenant notice of the name and address of the financial institution in which the deposit is held;
  • The landlord must give a tenant a receipt indicating the amount of such security deposit, the name of the person receiving it and, in the case of the agent, the name of the landlord for whom such security deposit is received, the date on which it is received, and a description of the dwelling unit. The receipt shall be signed by the person receiving the security deposit. Failure to comply with this subsection shall entitle the tenant to immediate return of the security deposit
  • Certain exceptions apply for electronic funds transfer;
  • A landlord must pay interest on a deposit held more than 6 months, see below within 30 days after the end of each 12-month period; and
  • A successor owner or landlord becomes responsible for the security deposit

Note: Many landlords are no longer collecting a security deposit to avoid the possibility of violating RLTO security deposit requirements. Instead, they are collecting a non-refundable "move-in fee." While the fee is not as high as the security deposit, it can still be hundreds of dollars.

Tenant remedy: If the landlord or landlord's agent fails to comply with Section 5-12-080 of the ordinance, the tenant shall be awarded damages of two times the security deposit plus court costs and reasonable attorney's fees. In Krawczyk v. Livaditis, the appellate court refused to allow "stacking" of damages for different violations of the subsections of Section 5-12-080. 366 Ill.App.3d 375, 851 N.E.2d 862 (1st Dist. 2006). In 2010, Section 5-12-080 was amended. Among other things, the following language regarding the penalty for violation of Section 5-12-080 now appears:

(f) (1) Subject to subsection (f)(2), if the landlord fails to comply with any provision of Section 5-12-080(a) - (e), the tenant shall be awarded damages in an amount equal to two times the security deposit plus interest at a rate determined by Section 5-12-081. This subsection does not preclude the tenant from recovering other damages to which he may be entitled under this chapter 5-12-081. Emphasis added.

It should be argued that the reference to Section 5-12-081 is a typographical error because:

  • The preceding language says that a tenant can recover other damages under this chapter (presumably 5-12-080), and
  • Section 5-12-081 does not authorize damages (it refers merely to the method by which interest is calculated).

Under this argument, the tenant should seek twice the deposit for each violation that occurs.

Requirements for return of the deposit under the ordinance.

Under the Chicago ordinance, a landlord must return a security deposit within 45 days after the date the tenant vacates the dwelling unit. However, the landlord may deduct from the security deposit any unpaid rent which has not been validly withheld or deducted under state or federal law or local ordinance, and a reasonable amount necessary to repair any damage caused to the premises by the tenant or any person under the tenant's control. The landlord may not deduct for damage based only on reasonable wear and tear.

In the case of damage beyond ordinary wear and tear, the landlord must deliver or mail to the last known address of the tenant within 30 days an itemized statement of damages and the estimated or actual cost for repairing or replacing each item. The landlord must attach copies of paid receipts for the repair or replacement of the statement. If an estimated cost is given, the landlord must furnish the tenant with copies of paid receipts within 30 days from the date the damaging statement was furnished to the tenant.

Tenant remedy: If the landlord or landlord's agent fails to comply with section 5-12-080 of the ordinance, the tenant shall be awarded damages of two times the security deposit plus interest in addition to court costs and reasonable attorney's fees. The tenant should also demand the return of the deposit itself in addition to the penalty of twice the deposit.

Security Deposit Interest

The Security Deposit Interest Act, 765 ILCS 715

The Act applies to buildings or complexes with 25 or more residential units.  The lessor must have held the security deposit for more than six months.

The lessor must pay interest on security deposits computed from the date of the lessee’s deposit with the lessor. Interest must be paid at a rate equal to the minimum passbook savings account interest rate paid by the largest Illinois commercial bank as of December 31 of the year before the beginning of the lease.

Tenant remedy: If the tenant disputes the amount of security deposit interest paid, the tenant must give the landlord a written notice that the interest paid was deficient.

The landlord has 14 days after receiving written notice to pay the correct amount plus $50 or provide a written explanation of how the interest paid was calculated. 

A tenant may bring an action against a lessor who violates the Act. A lessor who willfully fails or refuses to pay the interest due is liable for the entire security deposit, together with court costs and reasonable attorney's fees.

Tenant remedy: Under the 2010 amendment to the RLTO, if a landlord pays a timely but deficient amount of interest, the tenant must take steps by Section 5-12-080(f)(2) before bringing an action in court. Other than that, if the landlord or agent fails to comply with the interest requirements under Section 5-12-080, the tenant shall be awarded damages of two times the security deposit plus interest thereon in addition to court costs and reasonable attorney's fees.

Notice to terminate

All tenants are entitled to a notice of termination of tenancy or demand for rent before the lessor may bring an eviction action.


No notice of termination of tenancy is required at the expiration of the lease period.  735 ILCS 5 / 9-213. However, if the Chicago ordinance (CRLTO) governs the rental agreement, the landlord must notify the tenant in writing at least 30, 60, or 120 days before the date of termination of the lease or the landlord's intention not to renew the lease. The amount of notice required depends on how long the tenant has occupied the property.  Section 5-12-130(j)
Some courts have held that notice may not be required if the tenant has agreed in the lease to waive it. Lessors may waive their right to assert the waiver of notice provision in a lease. See, e.g., Avdich v. Kleinert, 69 Ill.2d 1, 370 N.E. 2d 504, 12 Ill. Dec. 700 (1970). A lease provision that waives the right to notice of termination is not enforceable under the CRLTO. Section 5-12-140(d).

Written notice

Notices of termination must be in writing and describe the premises with reasonable certainty.

Timing of notices

Notices must afford the tenant the full number of days required by statute. Hoefler v. Erickson, 331 Ill.App. 577, 73 N.E. 2d 448 (1st Dist. 1947). The date of service is excluded, and if the last day falls on a Saturday or Sunday or holiday, it is also excluded. 5 ILCS 70 / 1.11.

Holdover tenancy: willful hold over

735 ILCS 5 / 9-202

A tenant who willfully stays after the expiration of the lease term must pay double the value of the unit. The landlord must demand in writing possession of the premises before claiming double rent.

Holdover after notice

735 ILCS 5 / 9-203

A tenant who gives notice of intent to vacate the unit and who stays beyond the date mentioned shall pay double the value of the unit.

Rent demand five-day notice

735 ILCS 5 / 9-209

When rent is not paid on the due date, the lessor may serve on the tenant a five-day notice stating that unless the rent is paid within five days of service, the tenancy will be terminated. The tenant can avoid any eviction proceeding by tendering to the lessor the rent due.

The notice must state:

  • The amount of rent due;
  • The tenant has the right to pay the rent claimed due within the five-day period; and
  • If the rent due is not paid within the five-day period, the tenancy will be terminated. The first day is the day after the tenant gets notice.
Tenant disputes rent claimed due

A tenant who is served a five-day notice may dispute the amount of rent claimed due. If the amount claimed exceeds the amount the tenant believes due, explore the reasons why. A tender of the actual amount due should defeat the lessor’s claim of possession. Elizondo v. Medina, 100 Ill.App.3d 718, 427 N.E. 2d 381, 56 Ill.Dec. 301 (1st Dist. 1981).

Rent demand should not include non-rent amounts

A five-day rent demand should include rent only, and not other claims such as damages, security deposits, attorneys fees, etc.  735 ILCS 5 / 9-209. See, Payne v. Coates Miller, 52 Ill. App.3d 288, 367 N.E. 2d 406, 10 Ill.Dec. 18 (1st Dist. 1977) affirming an injunction enjoining lessor from including in five-day rent demands claims for attorney's fees and costs. The tenant should be advised to tender the rent actually due.


Some courts can narrowly interpret tender. A tenant should tender rent due in the manner demanded on the five-day notice. If the notice does not specify, the tenant should tender the rent in accord with the past practice of the parties. In tendering an amount in person, the tenant should take a witness, and show the lessor or his designated agent the money or another manner of payment.

Refusal of tender

If the lessor refuses tender of the amount due, the tenant can bring a motion to dismiss any eviction action based on the five-day demand for rent. Madison v. Rosser, 3 Ill.App.3d 851, 279 N.E. 2d 375 (1st Dist. 1972).

Tender excused

Tender may be excused where it would be futile. If the lessor tells the tenant not to try to tender, or if the rent amount claimed due is grossly excessive, tender may be futile. Casciola v. Gardner, 101 Ill.App.3d 852, 428 N.E. 2d 921, 57 Ill.Dec. 241 (1st Dist. 1981). This argument may be even stronger if the lessor includes the "only full payment" language included in 9-209. That language is:

Only full payment of the amount of rent demanded in this notice will waive the landlord’s right to terminate the lease under this notice, unless the landlord agrees in writing to continue the lease in exchange for receiving partial payment.

Ten-day notice to quit

735 ILCS 5 / 9-210

The lessor may terminate the tenancy by a ten-day notice to quit when the tenant has violated a term or condition of the lease.

The notice to quit must state:

  • the nature of the lease violation and
  • the tenancy is terminated. Goldblatt v. Pearl, 338 Ill.App.654, 88 N.E.2d 377 (1st Dist. 1949) abst.

It is necessary to review the term of the lease that the lessor claims has been breached.  Ambiguities in any lease terms are construed against the drafter. Chicago Housing Authority v. Rose, 203 Ill.App.3d 208, 560 N.E.2d 1131, 148 Ill.Dec. 534 (1st Dist. 1990).

Nonpayment of rent in a notice to quit

The lessor may claim nonpayment of rent as the lease violation in a ten-day notice to quit, but the tenant can avoid eviction by tendering the rent due in the ten-day period. Westerman v. Gilmore, 17 Ill.App.2d 455, 150 N.E.2d 660 (3rd Dist. 1958).

Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance

Municipal Code of Chicago, Section 5-12-130(b)

Under the Chicago ordinance, a landlord may give the tenant a ten-day notice if the tenant is in material non-compliance with the rental agreement or with the tenant's responsibilities under section 5-12-040 of the ordinance. In contrast to the state statute, the ordinance requires that the tenant be given the opportunity to remedy the violation within the ten-day period. The ten-day notice must include the following:

  • description of the acts or omissions constituting the breach and
  • statement to the tenant that the rental agreement will terminate ten days after receipt of the notice unless the breach is remedied by the tenant within that time period.

If the tenant has created a disturbance to neighbors, the ten-day notice must give the tenant the opportunity to remedy the violation. However, if the tenant has created another disturbance within 60 days after receipt of the notice, the landlord may terminate the rental agreement by giving a second ten-day notice. The second notice does not have to provide the tenant with the right to remedy the violation.

Thirty-day notice

735 ILCS 5 / 9-207

An oral month to month tenancy may be terminated on a written 30-day notice. The notice need not state a reason for the termination of the tenancy. The notice must be served at least 30 days before the date of termination and must state the last date of the rental period. Hoefler v. Erickson, 73 N.E.2d 448 (1st Dist. 1947).

Service of notice

735 ILCS 5 / 9-211

Any notice of termination of tenancy, including a five-day or thirty-day notice must be served by one of the following means:

  • Personal service on the tenant
  • Service on a person 13 years old or older if residing on the premises or in possession of the premises
  • Certified or registered mail, with return receipt or
  • Posting, but only where no one is in actual possession

In Prairie Mgmt. Corp. v. Bell, 289 Ill. App. 3d 746, 752, 682 N.E.2d 141, 145 (1st Dist. 1997), the court held that the methods of service identified in this statutory provision are not meant to be exhaustive. Furthermore, a tenant's acknowledged receipt of the notice cures any defect in the landlord's manner of service. Id. However, in construing the posting section of the statute, the Appellate Court found that there was no jurisdiction over a tenant who was in actual possession of the premises and whom the landlord served by posting. Figueroa v. Deacon, 404 Ill.App.3d 48, 935 N.E.2d 1080 (1st Dist.2010).


735 ILCS 5 / 9-101 et seq 
Supreme Court Rule 181(b)(2)

Lessors must evict tenants through judicial proceedings. The judicial eviction proceeding is called an Eviction Action. The requirements for an eviction action are contained in 735 ILCS 5 / 9-101 et seq.

An eviction action is an action to determine the right to possession of the premises at issue.  735 ILCS 5 / 9-102.

It is a summary proceeding; matters not germane to possession may not be joined, but the statute specifically allows a claim for rent to be joined. 735 ILCS 5 / 9-106. Practitioners in Cook County should be aware that the courts narrowly construe germaneness. In any event, if at all possible, any germane counterclaims should also be pled as affirmative defenses. Examples of relevant matters are:

  • Defenses based on poor housing conditions such as a breach of the warranty of habitability and plead ordinance violations in addition to Jack Spring;
  • Retaliatory eviction such as when a landlord files a case after a tenant reports poor housing conditions or after a tenant obtains an order of protection;
  • Fair housing violations, if relevant to the issue of possession;
  • Defenses in a nonpayment of rent case where a tenant believes no rent is owed;
  • Defenses in a breach of lease claim where a tenant claims the lease was not breached; and
  • Tenants who are victims of domestic or sexual abuse.


735 ILCS 5 / 9-106

The complaint need only allege that the plaintiff is entitled to possession of the premises and that the defendant unlawfully withholds possession of the premises.


Service of summons must be made by the general requirements of the Code of Civil Procedure. There must be strict compliance with the statutory requirements for service. Chiaro v. Lemberis, 28 Ill. App. 2d 164, 171 N.E. 2d 81 (1st Dist. 1960).

See, 735 ILCS 5 / 2-203, for service on individuals. It provides that service shall be made:

  • By leaving a copy of the summons with the defendant personally; and
  • By leaving a copy at the defendant’s usual place of abode, with some person of the family or a person residing there, of the age of 13 years or upwards, and informing that person of the contents of the summons, provided the officer or other person making service shall also send a copy of the summons in a sealed envelope with postage fully prepaid, addressed to the defendant at his or her usual place of abode. The certificate of the officer or affidavit of the person that he or she has sent the copy in pursuance of this section is evidence that he or she has done so.
Constructive service

735 ILCS 5 / 9-107 provides that constructive service may be had by posting and mailing or by publication and mailing under 735 ILCS 5 / 2-206, but only where the officer returns the summons stating that service could not be obtained. The plaintiff or plaintiff's attorney must file an affidavit showing the basis for the use of constructive service, as outlined in section 5/9-107. Judgment for rent may not be entered in such cases. A landlord must make a due and diligent inquiry into the whereabouts of the tenant before relying on constructive service. Equity Residential Properties Management Corp. v. Nasolo, 364 Ill.App.3d 26, 32; Bell Federal Savings & Loan Association v. Horton, 59 Ill. App. 3d 923, 928 (5th Dist. 1978). Depending upon the particular circumstances of a case, inquiring with neighbors, inquiring with known counsel, checking court records, and investigating employment information may be part of the ‘due inquiry’ and ‘diligent inquiry’ required of a plaintiff intending to rely on constructive service. Nalaso 364 Ill. App. 3d at 32. If these statutorily mandated due and diligent inquiries are not completed by the plaintiff, the court has no jurisdiction over that defendant and a default judgment entered against him, or her is void. Id. 364 Ill. App. 3d at 32.

Timing of service

Summons must be served at least three days before the date the defendant is required to appear. Illinois Supreme Court Rule 102(b).

Objections to service

Objections to service may be made by filing a motion to quash service of process under 735 ILCS 5 / 2-301. The defendant no longer must file a special and limited appearance with the motion. If the reasons for the objection do not appear on the face of the pleadings on file, an affidavit must support the motion.


A defendant in an eviction action must appear at the time and place specified in the summons. Supreme Court Rule 181 (b) (2). The defendant need not file an answer unless ordered to do so by the court. When no answer is ordered, the allegations in the complaint are deemed denied, and any defense may be proved as if it were specifically pleaded. Id. Practitioners in Cook County may wish to file affirmative defenses to avoid allegations of surprise, and preclusion of affirmative defenses, at trial.

735 ILCS 5/9-108

A defendant in an eviction action has a right to a jury trial. The demand must be made when the defendant makes a first appearance to preserve the right. 735 ILCS 5/2-1105. Since no answer is required in an eviction action, the jury demand should be filed on or before the first appearance date. First Bank of Oak Park v. Carswell, 111 Ill. App. 3d 71, 73, 443 N.E.2d 755, 757 (1st Dist. 1982); but see Pecoraro v. Kesner, 217 Ill. App. 3d 1039, 1045, 578 N.E.2d 53, 56 (1st Dist. 1991) reversing trial court's decision to strike jury demand filed eleven days after tenant was first required to appear in an eviction action, and stating that statutes regulating the right to a jury trial should be liberally construed in favor of allowing this right.

Burden of proof

Plaintiff has the burden to show its right to possession by a preponderance of the evidence. Connery v. Van Thournout, 303 Ill. App. 406, 25 N.E.2d 397, 399 (2nd Dist. 1940). The plaintiff must also show strict adherence to the procedural requirements, including notice requirements, of the eviction provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure.

Tenants in foreclosure

Federal law

Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act of 2009 (PTFA). Pub. L. 111-22, Div. A. Title VII.

The PTFA requires that tenants residing in foreclosed residential properties be provided notice to vacate at least 90 days in advance of the date by which the immediate successor, generally the purchaser, seeks to have the tenants vacate the property.

Furthermore, the term of any bona fide lease also remains in effect for the full length of the lease, and the tenant is entitled to 90 days notice before the end of the lease. Bona fide leaseholders may not be removed by filing a supplemental petition for succession in the original foreclosure suit. 

The PTFA  will sunset on December 31, 2014. 

State law

735 ILCS 5/15-1701

The Illinois law states that the purchaser may not file an eviction action against the occupant of the mortgaged real estate until 90 days after a notice of intent to file the action has been properly served upon the occupant.

The purchaser may not file a supplemental petition for succession against a bona fide leaseholder. 

The purchaser may not file an eviction action against a bona fide leaseholder until 90 days before the end of the lease, up to one year. 

A lease or tenancy shall be considered bona fide if:

  • The mortgagor or the child, spouse, or parent of the mortgagor under the contract is not the tenant;
  • The lease or tenancy was the result of an arm's length transaction; and
  • The rent is not substantially less than fair market value for the property or unit unless reduced by Federal, State, or local subsidy. 735 ILCS 5/9-121(c).

The court file relating to an eviction action brought against a tenant who would have lawful possession of the premises but for the foreclosure on the property, or a bona fide leaseholder, shall be sealed under Section 15-1701.

Chicago ordinance

Residents of Chicago may be afforded additional protections under the Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance (RLTO) and Keep Chicago Renting Ordinance (KCRO). 


RLTO 5-12-095

A landlord must provide existing tenants written notice of a foreclosure complaint within 7 days of being served. Notice must be given to any third party who regularly pays rent on behalf of a tenant. Notice of an existing foreclosure action must be given to new tenants. If the landlord doesn’t provide this notice, the tenant may terminate the rental agreement with a 30 day written notice to the landlord. A tenant may also recover, in a civil proceeding, $200 in damages and, costs and attorney’s fees.

Within 7 days of being served a foreclosure notice, an owner or landlord of the premises that are subject to the complaint shall disclose, in writing, to all tenants of the foreclosed premises that a foreclosure action has been filed.

Successor landlords

RLTO 5-12-080(e)

A successor landlord is liable for the tenant's security deposit.

RLTO 5-12-030(h)

Sets forth the definition of "successor landlord." A court-appointed receiver is not a successor landlord. 

Owners of foreclosed rental property

KCRO 5-15-40

No later than 21 days after a person becomes the owner of a foreclosed rental property, the owner shall make a good faith effort to ascertain the identities and addresses of all tenants of the rental units in the foreclosed property and notify, in writing, all known tenants of such rental units that, under certain circumstances, the tenant may be eligible for relocation assistance. The notice shall be given in English, Spanish, Polish, and Chinese.

Relocation assistance fee

KCRO 5-14-050

The owner of a foreclosed rental property shall pay a one-time relocation assistance fee of $10,600, or the owner must offer an option to renew or extend the tenant's current rental agreement with a capped annual rental rate.

Qualified tenants

KCRO 15-14-020

A tenant in a foreclosed rental property on the day that a person becomes the owner of that property; and is a bona fide leaseholder, see definition above.

Defenses to evictions


A lessor who by any action recognizes the continued existence of a tenancy after the lessor has knowledge of a breach of the lease waives the right to assert forfeiture of the lease due to that lease violation. Midland Management Co. v. Helgason, 158 Ill.2d 97, 630 N.E. 2d 836 (1994). Such acts include:

Repair and deduct

When a landlord has promised in the lease to make needed repairs and does not after a tenant has given landlord notice of conditions and a reasonable amount of time to make repairs, the tenant has three options:

  • Abandon the premises if, due to the landlord’s failure to make repairs, the premises become untenable;
  • Remain in possession and sue the landlord for costs of repairs; and
  • Make repairs and deduct the costs of the repairs from the rent due.

If landlord sues tenant for eviction for nonpayment of rent after tenant makes repairs, the tenant can argue that rent is not owed because of costs of repairs. The Illinois Residential Tenant's Right to Repair Act, 765 ILCS 742/5, allows for rent to be withheld to cover the cost of necessary repairs. However, the tenant must meet the following requirements:

  • The repairs made must be required by the lease agreement or by local law or ordinance;
  • The reasonable cost of repair must not exceed $500, or one half of one month's rent, whichever is less;
  • The tenant must notify the landlord of the intention to make the repairs at the landlord's expense by certified mail;
  • The landlord has 14 days after given notice to repair the issue before the repairs are made;
  • The repairs must be made in a skillful manner by a tradesman unrelated to the tenant;
  • After the repairs are made, the tenant must send a copy of the paid bill to the landlord, along with the tradesman's name, address, and telephone number; and
  • The repairs must not be required because of the tenant's fault.

This does not apply to public housing, condominiums, not-for-profit cooperative homes, or owner-occupied dwellings with six or fewer units. Also, if you make repairs, you should be aware that you are responsible for the following:

  • That the repairs are made skillfully;
  • That a licensed tradesman makes the repairs; and 
  • That the tradesman is insured for any damages that occur during the repair.

In addition to the Illinois Act, the Chicago ordinance (CRLTO) explicitly authorizes a limited repair and deduct remedy. Section 5-12-110(c) gives tenants the right to repair and deduct under the following circumstances:

  • There is material noncompliance by the landlord with the rental agreement or with section 5-12-070 regarding the landlord's responsibility to maintain the premises;
  • The reasonable cost of compliance does not exceed the greater of $500 or one-half the monthly rent;
  • The reasonable cost of compliance does not exceed one month's rent;
  • The tenant gives written notice to the landlord stating the intention to correct the condition at the landlord's expense;
  • If the landlord fails to correct the defect within 14 days after written notice is given, the tenant may have the work done in a workmanlike manner and compliance with the existing law;
  • The tenant must submit to the landlord a paid bill from an appropriate contractor or supplier; and
  • The amount deducted from the rent may not exceed reasonable prices customarily charged for such work.

Warranty of habitability

Illinois does not recognize a tenant’s right to withhold rent as a method to compel lessors to fix defects. Tenants should be warned that it is risky to withhold rent. However, every residential lease includes an implied warranty of habitability. Jack Spring v. Little, 50 Ill.2d 351, 280 N.E.2d 208 (1972). Some leases also contain express warranties of habitability.

Breach of an express or implied warranty of habitability is a defense germane to an eviction action. The tenant is entitled to a rent set-off appropriate to the extent of the lessor’s breach. Glasoe v. Trinkle, 107 Ill.2d 1, 479 N.E.2d 915, 88 Ill.Dec. 895 (1985). The claim may be made by the affirmative defense and by counterclaim.

Elements of a claim

The elements of a claim based on breach of the warranty of habitability include:

  • Defects in the premises may be shown by the failure to maintain the premises in substantial compliance with municipal building codes;
  • Lessor’s knowledge of the defects;
  • Lessor’s failure to repair defects; and
  • Defects would cause a reasonable person to consider the premises unfit, unsanitary, unhealthy or unsafe, but tenant need not establish that the premises are uninhabitable. Pole Realty co. v. Sorrells, 84 Ill.App.2d 178, 417 N.E.2d 1297, 49.Ill.Dec. 283 (1981).
Measure of damages

In Glasoe v. Trinkle, 107 Ill.2d 1, 479 N.E. 2d 915, 88 Ill. Dec. 895(1985), the Illinois Supreme Court approved two alternate methods for assessing damages due to the breach of the warranty of habitability:

  • "percentage reduction in use" method. The rent claimed due by the lessor is set off by the percentage of reduction in the use of the premises by the tenant over the period the defect existed; and
  • "difference in value" method. The rent claimed due by the lessor is set off by the difference in fair value of premises if they had been as warranted versus their value in their defective condition over the period the defect existed.

The court may consider the agreed monthly rent as the fair rental value. The lessor and/or the tenant may testify as to his or her opinion of the value of the premises in their defective condition, but expert opinion is advisable. The court should consider the severity of the breach, the duration of the breach, and the effectiveness of the lessor’s attempts to correct defects in determining the amount of rent abatement.

If tenant’s damages exceed the amount of rent due, the tenant has a complete defense and is entitled to a judgment for the amount more than the rent owed. If rent is still due to the lessor after appropriate reduction due to a breach of the warranty of habitability, the tenant is entitled to a set-off, but the lessor may still gain possession of the premises.

Chicago ordinance rent withholding provision

Some municipal codes, including the CRLTO, allow rent withholding. Under section 5-12-110(d), the following conditions must be met:

  • There is material noncompliance by the landlord with the rental agreement or with section 5-12-070 concerning the landlord's responsibility to maintain the premises;
  • The tenant notifies the landlord in writing of the tenant's intention to withhold from rent an amount which reasonably reflects the reduced value of the premises due to the material noncompliance;
  • The landlord fails to correct the condition within 14 days after receiving the notice; and
  • During the time the failure continues, the tenant may deduct from the rent the amount stated in the notice.

Rental property utility service act violations

765 ILCS 735 / 1

Tenants may deduct from rent due payments they make for utility services that the landlord was obligated to make but failed to make to avoid interruption of service.

Elements of this defense are:

  • Lessor’s agreement, written or oral, to pay for water, gas or electricity services
  • Lessor’s failure to make payments due for the utility service
  • Nonpayment jeopardizes the continuation of service to the tenant, and
  • Tenant’s payment for the utility service
Common area utilities

765 ILCS 735/1.2

A tenant shall not be required to pay utilities for any common area or other units unless, before entering into a lease or taking a security deposit, the landlord provides a specific written statement of the arrangement and 12 months of utility bills. The tenant may waive this provision in writing.

765 ILCS 735/1.3

Tenant can recover actual damages from a landlord’s violation and can recover treble damages if the landlord’s action was knowing or intentional. Fees and costs may be awarded if judgment is over $3,000.

Termination of utility service by the landlord

765 ILCS 735/1.4

A landlord may not cause utility service to tenants to be interrupted or terminated by nonpayment of utility bills for which the landlord is responsible or by tampering with equipment.

765 ILCS 735/2.1

If a landlord terminates service in violation of section 1.4, the tenant may recover damages from the landlord of 100% rent reduction for each month and consequential damages, although the tenant must mitigate.  If the landlord showed reckless indifference or willful disregard, each affected resident could get up to $300 or $5,000 divided by the number of such residents, whichever is less.

Retaliatory eviction

765 ILCS 720 /1

A lessor cannot terminate or refuse to renew a lease or tenancy because the tenant complained to a governmental authority of a bona fide violation of a building code, health ordinance, or similar regulation. Any lease provision to the contrary is void. In Clore v. Fredman, 59 Ill.2d 20, 319 N.E.2d 18 (1974), the Illinois Supreme Court held that retaliatory eviction is a defense germane to an eviction action.

Elements of this defense are:

  • The tenant complained in good faith to a governmental authority, not a newspaper, or some other organization, about potential building code or health ordinance violation;
  • The lessor knows the complaint; and
  • The lessor terminates the tenancy or refuses to renew the lease.

The lessor can rebut the prima facie case of retaliatory eviction by establishing that the eviction was in fact motivated by other reasons. The mere existence of another independent reason to evict is not sufficient. Clore v. Fredman, 319 N.E. 2d at 867.

Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance

Municipal Code of Chicago, Section 5-12-150

The CRLTO broadens the scope of the retaliatory eviction defense by protecting any of the following types of tenant conduct:

  • Complaining of code violations to a governmental agency, elected representative, or public official charged with enforcement of a building or health code
  • Complaining of a building or similar code violation or illegal landlord practice to a community organization or the news media
  • Seeking the assistance of a community organization or the news media to remedy a code violation or illegal landlord practice
  • Requesting that the landlord make repairs to the premises required by building code or other regulation
  • Becoming a member of a tenant's union
  • Testifying in court or administrative proceeding concerning the condition of the premises 
  • Exercising any right or remedy provided by law

A landlord may not knowingly terminate a tenancy or refuse to renew a lease because the tenant has engaged in one of the forms of protected activity. In an eviction action, if the tenant presents evidence that the tenant engaged in protected conduct within one year before the alleged act of retaliation, such evidence creates a rebuttable presumption that the landlord's conduct was retaliatory.

Fair Housing Act violations

42 USC § 3601 et seq.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits various forms of discrimination in a wide variety of housing and real estate practices. It proscribes discrimination based on race, color, national origin, disability, religion, sex, and familial status. 42 U.S.C. § 3604.  Under the Act, a housing provider cannot refuse to sell or rent to an individual based on his/her belonging to one or more of those protected classes. Id. at § 3604(a) & (f)(1). Also, the housing provider cannot discriminate in the terms, conditions or privileges of the sale or rental of a property, or in the provision of services or facilities. Id. at § 3604(b) & (f)(2). Concerning persons with disabilities, a housing provider has an affirmative duty to provide reasonable accommodations to its rules, policies, practices, or services when necessary to ensure an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling and to permit reasonable modifications such as physical improvements that ensure access to units and common areas. Id. at § 3604(f)(3)(A) & (f)(3)(B). The Act also makes it illegal to coerce, intimidate, threaten, or interfere with a person who exercises his/her rights under the Act.  Id. at § 3617.  

Tenant remedy: A tenant may be able to use a housing provider’s violation of the Act to defend against an eviction action.

Eviction due to familial status

Familial status is defined as one or more individuals under 18 who are domiciled with a parent or other person designated by the parent or other person having custody with the written permission of such parent or another person. 42 USC § 3602(K). Families also include pregnant women, persons in the process of adopting a minor child, and families with foster children. Gorski v. Troy, 929 F. 2d 1183 (7th Cir. 1991). A lessor cannot require a larger security deposit from families with children, or evict a family solely because the family has a child.

Reasonable local, state, or federal regulations on the maximum number of occupants permitted to occupy a dwelling are lawful provided that they do not discriminate against a class protected by the Act. 42 USC § 3607(b). The Act does not address occupancy standards imposed by private landlords. HUD’s regulations implementing the Fair Housing Act indicate that such standards may be permissible if they are reasonable, e.g., comport with a local building code. 24 C.F.R.§100.10.

Eviction where lessor has failed to make reasonable accommodation for a person with disabilities.

42 USC § 3604 (f) (3) (b) specifically requires the lessor to make reasonable accommodation in rules, policies, practices or services when such accommodations may be necessary to afford disabled persons equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling.

"Handicap" is defined as: 

  • A physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more of such person’s major life activities;
  • A record of having such an impairment; and 
  • Being regarded as having such an impairment, but such term does not include current, illegal use of or addiction to a controlled substance as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act 21 USC § 802.

An accommodation is not reasonable if it imposes undue financial or administrative burdens. Se. Cmty. Coll. v. Davis, 442 U.S. 397 (1st Cir. 1979).

Examples of reasonable accommodations include:

  • Allowing persons unable to maintain their homes to have homemakers; and
  • Setting up a rent paying mechanism through third-party payees, e.g., banks, social service agencies to ensure that monthly rent payments are made.
Local ordinances

The Chicago Human Rights Ordinance, Municipal Code of Chicago, Title 2, Chapter 160, prohibits certain forms of discrimination not covered under the federal statutes. The ordinance provides redress to housing discrimination based on age, marital status, sexual orientation, a source of income, and military discharge status. The Cook County Human Rights Ordinance, No. 93-0-13, also covers these types of discrimination.

Domestic abuse

Eviction Act: Affirmative Defense 735 ILCS 5/9-106.2

A tenant has an affirmative defense in an eviction case if:

  • Eviction is based on victim's status as a victim of domestic or sexual violence
  • Eviction is based on an incident of actual or threatened domestic or sexual violence against tenant
  • Case is based on criminal activity related to domestic violence that has been committed by a household member or guest against the tenant
  • Case is based on the violation of a bar order, and the tenant did not willingly allow the barred person on the property

A landlord can defeat the above defense if they can show that the tenant's presence would create a threat to other residents, the landlord, or their employees. Even if the municipality has a crime-free or nuisance ordinance, the landlord is still required to follow federal and state laws protecting victims of domestic violence.

Unlawful ordinances or regulations

65 ILCS  5/1-2-1.5

No municipality can enact an ordinance or regulation based on penalizing landlords or tenants based on:

  • Contact made to police for a domestic violence or disability issue;
  • An incident related to sexual or domestic violence; or
  • Criminal activity or ordinance violation that is related to sexual or domestic violence.

Enforcement of judgment

Lessors must enforce a judgment of possession within 120 days unless the court grants an extension. 735 ILCS 5 / 9-117

The court must grant the extension unless the defendant establishes:

  • That the tenancy has been reinstated
  • That the breach upon which the judgment has been issued has been cured or waived
  • That the plaintiff and defendant entered into a post-judgment agreement whose terms the defendant has performed
  • That other legal or equitable grounds exist that bar enforcement of the judgment

A tenant should notify the sheriff’s office in the event the lessor does not enforce order within 120 days to make sure that the sheriff refuses to enforce a stale order. The tenant should be sure to wait until the 120 day period has elapsed.

Waiver after judgment

Lessors sometimes accept rent accruing after the eviction order is entered. If such rent is accepted, a new lease is created. The tenant may bring an action to recognize the new tenancy. However, the landlord may accept rent that accrues between the entry of the judgment and the expiration of the stay, if the landlord has obtained the court's approval.

General practice tips for eviction

Tell the client to be on time for court and speak up before anyone else if he has defenses. Say "I have a defense!" and make sure the judge hears. A client who is 10 minutes late may already be evicted before he arrives. A judge may allow a 21-day extension to move. If the notice demands full payment of rent and the landlord accepts a partial payment, the landlord has not waived the right to evict. If a landlord recovers both rent and possession in joint action and the client pays the amount owed, the landlord can still evict. Through the use of a 5-day notice, the landlord can claim back rent only. Damage to property must be deducted from the security deposit or may be claimed in a 10-day notice.

Last full review by a subject matter expert
August 24, 2021
Last revised by staff
August 24, 2021

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