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FAQs About Leases

One of the most common contracts that residents in Illinois enter into is a residential lease, but many people have questions about their rights and duties under a lease. The following are some answers to frequently asked questions.

Q: What is a lease?

A: A lease is an agreement between a property owner (the landlord) and a person renting the property (the tenant). No "magic language" is necessary to create a lease, although leases for more than one year must be in writing. Most residential leases are in writing, often on a standard form.

Q: What are my obligations under a lease?

A: Generally, your obligation is to do whatever the lease requires you to do. At a minimum, this means paying the landlord rent and not bothering the neighbors. If you breach these obligations or commit certain felonies on the property, the landlord may terminate the lease.

Q: What happens if I am late with the rent?

A: If you miss a rent payment or pay less than is due, the landlord is required to send you five days' notice that he or she intends to terminate the lease for nonpayment of rent. If the rent is not paid within five days, the landlord may file a lawsuit to evict you from the residence.

Q: What is the maximum deposit that a landlord can collect?

A: Illinois law provides no maximum on the size of the security deposit that a landlord can collect.

Q: Is the landlord required to pay interest on my deposit?

A: Usually, yes. Landlords who rent units in apartment complexes containing 25 or more rental units are required to pay you interest on your deposit. The interest earned is due to the tenant within 30 days after the end of each year the tenant occupies the property, unless the tenant is in default under the lease.

Q: How do I get back the deposit at the end of my lease?

A: When the lease ends, the landlord has 30 days to return your security deposit to you, either by hand delivery or by mailing it to your last known address. If the landlord wants to withhold money from the deposit for damage to the property, he must send an itemized list of the damages and their cost of repair, along with the remainder of the deposit after the repairs have been paid for. To insure prompt receipt of your deposit, always give the landlord your forwarding address in writing.

Q: What happens if the utilities are turned off because the landlord has not paid the bill?

A: If a utility threatens to turn off services paid for by the landlord because the landlord has not paid the bill, you can either terminate the lease, pay the amount due and deduct it from your rent, or ask the utility to establish service to your apartment in your own name. By doing the latter, you agree to pay the future utility bills you incur, but you may deduct those bills from your rent.

This website is not intended to constitute legal advice or the provision of legal services. By posting and/or maintaining the website and its contents, Lucas Law does not intend to solicit business from clients located in states or jurisdictions outside of Illinois wherein Lucas Law or its individual attorney(s) are not licensed or authorized to practice law.

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