Illinois Landlord-Tenant Laws

Written by on November 12, 2012

Flag of IllinoisThis article summarizes some key Illinois Landlord-Tenant laws applicable to residential rental units.

We’ve used the Official State Statutes and other online sources cited below to research this information and it should be a good starting point in learning about the law.

With that said, our summary is not intended to be exhaustive or a substitute for qualified legal advice. Laws and statutes are always subject to change, and may even vary from county to county or city to city.

You are responsible for performing your own research and complying with all laws applicable to your unique situation.

If you have legal questions or concerns, we recommend consulting with the appropriate government agencies and/or a qualified lawyer in your area. Your local or state bar association may have a referral service that can help you find a lawyer with experience in landlord-tenant law.

This research and information is current as of November 11, 2012.

Official Rules and Regulations


Security Deposit:

  • Security Deposit Maximum: No Limit (765 ILCS 710/1)
  • Security Deposit Interest: Landlords who own 25 or more units must pay interest on deposits held for 6 months or longer.  Interest rate must match the rate paid by savings accounts held at the largest commercial bank in the state as of Dec. 31 prior to the start of tenancy.  This must be credited or paid-out to Tenant every 12 months. (765 ILCS 715/1&2)
  • Separate Security Deposit Bank Account: No statute
  • Pet Deposits and Additional Fees: No statute
  • Deadline for Returning Security Deposit: Between 30 and 45 days (765 ILCS 710/1)
  • Require Written Description / Itemized List of Damages and Charges: Yes (765 ILCS 710/1)
  • Record Keeping of Deposit Withholdings: No statute

Lease, Rent & Fees:

  • Rent Increase Notice: No statute
  • Late Fees: No statute
  • Returned Check Fees: No statute
  • Tenant Allowed to Withhold Rent for Failure to Provide Essential Services (Water, Heat, etc.): Yes (765 ILCS 735)
  • Tenant Allowed to Repair and Deduct Rent: Yes, but it must not exceed one-half of the rent or $500. (765 ILCS 742)
  • Landlord Allow to Recover Court and Attorney’s Fees: Yes
  • Landlord Must Make a Reasonable Attempt to Mitigate Damages to Lessee, including an Attempt to Rerent: Yes (735 ILCS 5/9-213.1)

Notices and Entry:

  • Notice to Terminate a Lease – Yearly Lease: 60 days (735 ILCS 5/9-205)
  • Notice to Terminate a Lease – Month-to-Month: 30 days (735 ILCS 5/9-207)
  • Notice to Terminate a Lease – Week-to-week: 7 days (735 ILCS 5/9-207)
  • Notice of date/time of Move-Out Inspection: No statute
  • Eviction Notice for Nonpayment: 5 days to pay or move-out. (735 ILCS 5/9-209)
  • Eviction Notice for Lease Violation: 10 days (735 ILCS 5/9-210)
  • Required Notice before Entry: No statute
  • Entry Allowed with Notice for Maintenance and Repairs (non-emergency): No statute
  • Entry Allowed During Tenant’s Extended Absence: No statute
  • Notice to Tenants for Pesticide Use: No statute
  • Emergency Entry Allowed without Notice: No statute
  • Lockouts Allowed: No
  • Utility Shut-offs Allowed: No

Disclosures and Miscellaneous Notes:

  • Landlord must change the locks or keys every time the house is vacated or between tenants.
  • Landlord must provide a formula for dividing up utilities when utilities are split among multiple tenants. (765 ILCS 740)
  • For units on the 2nd floor or lower, Landlord must disclose any existence of Radon.
  • Tenant may terminate a lease early in special circumstances involving sexual assault, sexual abuse, or domestic violence. (765 ILCS 750)
  • Landlords must change the locks if requested by a domestic violence victim. (765 ILCS 750)
  • Landlords can require tenants to provide proof of domestic violence status from tenants. (765 ILCS 750)
  • Landlords must not disclose the status of the domestic violence victim to anyone. (765 ILCS 750)
  • If property is abandoned, Landlord may harvest and seize crops to reclaim unpaid rent. (735 ILCS 5/9-318)
  • Landlord must not terminate or refuse to renew a lease to a tenant who has filed an official complaint to a Government Authority (765 ILCS 720)

Court Related:

  • Small Claims Court Limits: $10,000
  • Eviction Cases Allowed: Yes

Business Licenses:

  • Business License required: No state-wide statute, but local cities and counties may have regulations and requirements.  Check with your local governing authority.
  Laws & Regulations
Your Rental

66 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Helen Fingold

    I’m Tennant and My landlord is selling his house, and I rent from him month to month our lease was up in 2011. We been Renting this house now for 5 yrs. My question how long does the landlord have to give the tennant notice to move when the house is sold.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Helen,

      If you are on a month-to-month lease, the landlord simply has to give you 30 days notice to vacate – regardless of the reason. Source: Statute: 735 ILCS 5/9-207

      You should check with your local real estate commission because sometimes a tenant has the first right of refusal to buy the property – if you’re interested.

    • Andy Brabender

      I agree with Lucas. In Illinois the landlord must give you 30 days notice to terminate a month-to-month lease. Calculating the 30 days is a little tricky – so contacting an attorney is wise. Most tenants’ rights attorneys offer a free initial consultation.

      If you are given the notice and do not vacate the premises the landlord may not resort to self-help (changing locks, turning off utilities, threatening violence, ect.). The only proper way to evict is through the in-court eviction process.

      I do not believe Illinois gives a right of first refusal.

  • Meghan

    I have been living at the same apartment for almost 4 years. The last time I signed a lease was for 6/1/2012 – 5/31/2013. On 3/5/2014 I gave my landlords a 30-day notice that I would be moving out in April. I believe my move out date would be 30 days from my notice (4/5/2014) since there was no month to month agreement at anytime since the last lease ended. I sent an email to my landlords letting them know when I had arranged for the movers to come (4/4/2014) and also said I would be doing the extensive cleaning of the apartment on 4/5/2014 after the furniture would be out of the way. My landlord replied telling me that I should be moving out on 3/30/2014 (24 days from my 30 day notice).

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Megan,

      You did the right thing. Statute 735 ILCS 5/9-207 says 30 days notice is needed. He can’t make you move out less than 30 days.

      I’m sure he would like you to move out at the first of the month because it’s easier to find replacement tenants, but he can’t force you.

      Perhaps you can negotiate with him? Maybe he can pay you to move out early?

      • joanne denison

        If you had a month to month after a lease that ran from the first of the month, if you handed him a 30 day note on 4/5, it is really not effective until the NEXT rental period of 5/1, you must pay the full on 5/1 and then you have until 5/30 to move out. Notices can be tricky, but they are given on or before the next term of tenancy.

        • Lucas Hall

          Hi Joanne,

          Thanks for your input! I’ve struggled with this in the past, because I’ve always know your statement to be a best practice – that 30 days notice must be given on the payment date of the agreement or holdover. But, if rent is due and normally paid on the 10th, then notice would need to be given on the 10th. Most of the time, rent is due on the first, but not always.

          However, the ILCS doesn’t specifically say “30 days from the date of payment”, and I haven’t been able to find any legal documentation to back this up. Many states actually specify “30 days from the rent payment date” in the statutes, but many states don’t.

          Can you help? It would be nice to find this statute.

  • Jeremy

    I’m a 20 year old living with my father and step mother. My father pays rent and for all his own utilities. In addition to his $800 and him paying all his utilities I am being charged $125 for rent by the landlord. I was wondering if my landlord is able to do that without me signing any type of lease. Any information would be helpful.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Jeremy,

      It really just depends on what your dad’s lease says.

      The lease is supposed to specify the number of people allowed to live in the unit given the rent amount. If it says only two people are allowed to live there, then you would have to ask the landlord to modify the lease in order for you to live there too. At that time, he can change the price of rent to accommodate the extra body in his unit.

      If the lease says that three people are allowed to occupy the premise under the given rent price, then you should be able to add your name to lease without a fee increase.

      Also, since you’re not on the lease, technically, you don’t have permission to occupy the premise as a resident (yet). Of course your dad can have guests, but guests don’t “move-in”. Typically speaking, anyone over the age of 18 needs to be listed on the lease. Minors don’t count, but you’re not a minor.

      So, if you moved in without permission from the landlord, you’re technically breaking the lease first. It sounds like the landlord is agreeing to letting you live there, but it’s going to cost you an extra $125/month.

      My recommendation: pay the $125, unless the lease specifically says 3 people are allowed to live there under the given rent price.

      • joanne denison

        I disagree. The person on the lease is in control of the premises. The lease MIGHT state who is permitted to live there, but as long as you pay rent, for all practical purposes, it will be near impossible to get out any “tenant friends” or roommates. Evictions are for tenants only. To say that this is a lease violation would be problematic because for all practical purposes, it really doesn’t affect the Landlord’s ownership at all. He is not harmed by “extra tenants.” In fact, his position is enhanced because presumably there are more people to kick in on the rent assuring it is paid (assuming this is not a deadbeat attracting forum).
        A smart landlord pounds on the door and demands that other roommates get put on the list so there are more people to go after if there is an eviction and judgment. A smart roommate gets himself on the lease so he can control if he is evicted or not: the downside is he may end up paying all the rent and have little to no recourse to evict the other roommates.
        Can the landlord force a roommate to sign a lease? No. And it’s not worthwhile for him to upset a paying tenant by making a big deal out of it.
        A tenant that allows roommates to be put on the lease may be losing some rights if the other tenant doesn’t pay, tenant no. 1 will have to cover and he can’s sue tenant no. 2 for an eviction, at least I’ve not seen it.

        • Lucas Hall

          Hi Joanne,
          I really love that you are contributing to this. It’s nice to have a legal opinion on this thread.

          I have some questions:

          You said “Can the landlord force a roommate to sign a lease? No. ” I disagree because a landlord should should have some say as to who is living in his/her property (minors excluded). Otherwise, the tenant could have 20 roommates and thereby causing the county to fine the landlord for occupancy violations. Or, if an unknown roommate lives in the property for a decent amount of time, the landlord can’t evict them due to the lack of lease, but if the original tenants moved out long ago, the new “roommate” could also claim squatter’s rights. I’ve heard stories like this on Landlordology.

          I agree that a smart landlord should put everyone on the lease as soon as he/she finds out about a new roommate, but at what point does a guest become a tenant?

          And when is a roommate not a tenant? Just because the landlord may not know about a roommate doesn’t give them the right to occupy the dwelling. Only those on the lease have that right – especially if the lease says something along the lines of “all occupants must be approved by the landlord”.

          What do you think?

  • Naresh Baliga

    My ex-tenant owns me $1805 after applying the security deposit towards 2.5 months rent due.

    In case he misses the deadlines for the installment payment plan, can I report him to the credit bureaus so as damage his credit history? Do I have to notify him that I am doing that? Does the notification have to be an official letter mailed to his place, or does email suffice? He hasn’t given me his forwarding address anyway.

    • Lucas Hall

      HI Naresh,

      First, you should get a judgement that he owes the debt. So, if he misses his installment payment, you should immediately file a case in small claims court for the full amount owed. You should notify him in writing that by missing his first payment, the installment agreement has been terminated.

      When you win in court, the judgement will help you go through a collections agency if he doesn’t pay, and you can ding his credit. You could also call the 3 big credit agencies to ask about their preferred way to handle reporting.

      • joanne denison

        most credit agencies pick up judgments automatically. only banks and financial institutions and larger companies can ding a creditor without a judgment. you will most likely have to get a judgment first before anything will affect his credit. but many places require prior landlord references, so you will have him there.

  • Carolyn

    My landlord has not arranged for a walk-through at the end of my lease despite my numerous verbal requests for a walk-through. What does Illinois law say regarding walk-throughs? Are they required if I request one? Are they not a requirement? What prevents her from claiming non-existent damages if a walk-though is not conducted? I am a model tenant and she has provided excellent reference for me, however, she seems intent on trying to keep my security deposit and has come up with a number of far-fetched reason to keep the deposit. One of which is: I have two dogs for which she claims she must clean the carpet. The carpet is not soiled or damaged at all. Does the laws allow or require carpet cleaning between tenants in the case where there is no visible damages? She is merely insisting simply because I have dogs. She refuses to allow me to clean it myself with a rental cleaner. She insists it must be professionally cleaned by her “friend” and will subtract the cost from my security deposit. What do the laws state regarding this? Is it acceptable for me to clean it myself with a rental cleaner?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Carolyn

      There’s no statute that regulates move-out inspections in Illinois. Your city/county might have something, but I wouldn’t know.

      Your landlord is required to give you a list of itemized deductions from your deposit.

      There’s no specific statute that talks about carpet, but carpet is treated like all other items…. The landlord cannot charge you for normal wear and tear. She can only withhold your deposit for anything you agreed to in the lease, and damage beyond normal wear and tear. Basic carpet wear is normal, but tears or runs in the carpet are not normal.

      Check your lease to see if you agreed to a carpet cleaning.

      She can use whoever she wishes to clean it (to ensure it’s done right), but you are entitled to a receipt. You could have the carpet cleaned yourself (by a professional company), which should suffice, and I think a judge would agree with you.

    • joanne denison

      How long were you there? The IRS and normal rules for operating apartments often dictate that after 3 to 4 years, the carpet has exceeded its useful life and must be replaced by the landlord anyway. And yes, you can clean the carpet with any reasonable method, including a rental machine IF you soiled it beyond reasonable wear and tear and its exceeded reasonable life expectancy.
      Most landlords realize they have to recarpet and repaint every 3 years as part of running a respectable business.
      No final walk thru? No problem. Take plenty of pictures and bring a witness, my preferred witnesses are 1) clergy members; 2) licensed professional–doctor, lawyer, CPA, etc. This witness should be willing to go to court for you as a witness.
      The law is the unit only has to be “broom clean” so don’t sweat the small stuff.

  • Sara

    I am a landlord withholding a pet deposit.
    Am I required to have the damages repaired within a timeframe?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Sara,

      At the top of this article, it says you have to return any remaining deposit within 30-45 days depending on the situation. Read the linked statute to learn more.

      You are required to give an itemized receipt/list of any damages that you are withholding money for, so that would require you to at least get an estimate, but there’s no statute that says the repairs have to be finished by the time you give back a deposit. In fact, some types of repairs might take weeks or months to fix.

      If I were you, I would show the tenant a copy of the estimate, instead of a receipt, for work that has yet to be completed.

  • Dawn Long

    Can I get out of a signed lease that doesn’t start until June 1, 2014. I paid a security deposit of $475.00. She will not return and stated I need to find a person to sublease. She is being very rigid about the matter. Do I need to hire a lawyer?

  • Christine McNabb

    I got a call from my landlord today 4/9/2014 and told I had to vacate the premisis because my grandson was smoking in the front of the building. I have lived here for nearly 4 years, never late with rent and he has lived with me for 3+ years at this resident. I got the ok from landlord to allow him to live with me now he say he did not know he was 20 years old and has to go. Do I have any recourse? There was no notice issued and lease is expiring 5/31/2014…..

  • Kristin

    I was late paying rent few months ago but got caught up within a weeks and paid all late fees. My landlord in the meantime had me served with papers to evict. I spoke with them and paid up in full and they dropped the eviction. Then I get a call/notice that I owe $545.00 in attorneys fees. I paid my May rent in full but they returned it to me saying they won’t accept my rent unless the fees are paid also. They are also charged me late fees every day. My 5 days to pay are up tomorrow. Can they do this?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Kristin,

      It’s not uncommon for landlords to only accept full payments. Even if you only paid your rent portion, all money first goes to pay for fees, then any remaining money goes towards rent. So, your rent would still not be paid in full and you would incur fees.

      My suggestion (though not legal advice) would be to try harder to negotiate the removal or reduction of those fees. If the landlord won’t budge, then pay the fees and if you think something was done wrong, take them small claims court after you move out so they can’t retaliate. But if they did everything correctly, you’ll get stuck with their legal fees again.

    • joanne denison

      she needs a lawyer to write a nasty letter. late charges should not accrue daily and she should not pay false fees or fines on top of her rent.
      this landlord needs to be put in his or her place.

  • John

    My girl friend and I live in a one bedroom apt. My girl friend is expecting a baby. We were informed that we will be required to have a 2 bedroom apt due to state code.

    Is there really a two heart-beat per bedroom law in Illinois?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi John

      Occupancy rules are usually decided at the county or city level, not the state level. With that said, I’m not a lawyer and don’t know everything about Illinois state law. In many areas, you can have one more person than the number of bedrooms.

      Whenever someone says “it’s a law” I always make them cite the statute. 99% of the time, they can’t. Sadly this is a common rumor in apartment buildings to force people into larger units – since they are harder to rent.

      My suggestion would be to ask your leasing office to show you the statute, or contact your local housing office to discuss occupancy rules.

      • joanne denison

        That is a situation that is almost impossible to enforce by the landlord. He is over reaching. Some landlords have had success in citing DCFS standards of 1 to 2 same sex children per bedroom, but it is not a sure fire winner. Most judges look on such ideas very skeptically. Few will enforce such assertions I have found.

  • Teresa

    My parents rented out a unit to someone who paid a security deposit and is scheduled to move in mid July. He already signed his lease/contract for 6 months. Now, I’ve read what happens when a tenant needs to break a lease or get out of it before they move in, but what happens if my parents decide to no longer rent out the unit? He has almost 2 months before the start of his lease but my parents have changed their mind on renting it out.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Teresa,

      The tenant could legally sue your parents for damages.

      It’s probably best if they just have an honest conversation with the tenant as soon as possible. If he’s irritated or mad or threatens to sue, then they should consider giving him some money as compensation. They’re probably going to have to buy their way out of the contract.

      Your parents are trying to break a contract and there will be consequences for that.

      The only safe way to make it happen is to get the approval and signature of the tenant.

  • Tiffani

    I lived in an apartment for 4 years and 9 months and did NOT have a security deposit with the complex (which has more than 25 units). I moved out on April 30, 2014, and have not yet received any information concerning damages.

    I have two questions: (1) is there a time frame within which the landlord must notify me of damages where there is NO security deposit; and (2) what is considered the lifespan of carpet in Chicago and/or Illinois?

  • Mekmek

    Hi there. My two current lease ends at the end of June 2014. I have two leases, one for the apartment and one for parking. The apartment lease came prior to 30 days and is being increased. The parking came after the 30 day time period and is staying the same price. Was the parking lease required to to have come before 30 days?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Mekmek

      I couldn’t find a statute in Illinois that regulates the amount of notice needed before raising the rent. It may exist, but I couldn’t find it. Where did you get “30 days” from?

      I’m not a lawyer, but I would imagine that since a parking space is not a residential dwelling, then the laws regarding residential rental units wouldn’t apply to it.

  • Mable

    I signed a one year lease. The rent is due on the first with a five day grace period. I paid the rent on the sixth including the late fee. When I tried to pay this month the landlord refused to accept my rent and placed a notice to terminate the lease in 30 days. Is this legal. The landlord stated that I violated the lease because I paid it a day after the grace period. What is my recourse

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Mable,

      Yes, you did violate the lease by failing to pay rent within the grace period.

      735 ILCS 5/9-210 gives the landlord the right to unconditionally terminate your lease due to a violation with only TEN (10) days notice.

      With that said, I’m not a lawyer, and I suggest talking to a licensed attorney in your area. You may be able to find a loophole or another statute that overrides 9-210.

  • Robin H

    My father owns a duplex, I live on one side and he rents out the other side. We have gone through 4 renters in the past 8yrs now. He will not do a (check-list walk through) cause he wants someone in there right away. I always end up doing the cleaning after the renters leave. The last ones we had I spent 3 weeks cleaning pee of the toilets! I always take pitures before/after the renters leave. Do the yard work. My father never does a 6 month walk through when he should, he always asked me to since I live right next door. Personaly, that is not my job, I just live here and he owns the building he is the one that should. These last renter’s, they are not cleaning the place AT all. My dad is just loosing money, he is to nice to the people. He needs to be firm cause people will step all over him. I would like some pointers about really NASTY BATHEROOMS, BEDROOMS, KITCHENS. Help where I can get safe prossional cleaners with insurance. Thank you.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Robin,

      The best way to handle dirty tenants is to make sure they keep the place clean in the first place. The best way to do that is:
      1. Clean the unit VERY well before the next group of tenants move in
      2. Give a move-in inspection sheet to the new tenants to complete within 3 days of move-in
      3. Repair or finish cleaning anything that was mentioned on the inspection sheet (within reason)
      4. When the tenants move-out, do a through final walk-through inspection and compare any damages to the original inspection from move-in. Anything that differs was caused by those tenants.
      5. Rinse and Repeat.

      Without the move-in / move-out inspection form, you have no baseline to compare the condition of the property. You will forever get stuck cleaning up your dad’s messes.

      I wrote a lengthy guide about this, which includes a move-in/move-out sheet:

      If you don’t want to do the cleaning, you’ll need to hire a professional company. For years, I’ve used Angie’s list to hire only reputable and insured cleaners. Angie’s list does cost a small fee, but you might be able to find a contract with an “angie’s list coupon” which will help you recover the cost of membership.

      Here’s a review of Angie’s List
      Here’s another guide:

  • Melissa


    We notified our LL that we would not be continuing our lease in May, end of our lease is July 1. They showed the home throughout May. We moved out May 30, we requested to use our security deposit as our last months rent, they allowed us to and we have the emails saying such. After moving they requested we clean the carpets and we did. We left 1 item at the home and returned on june 19th. We entered the home and found other peoples belongings. We called the LL and she stated that she let them move things in but didnt make them pay rent so she will not be giving us the money that we paid.

    What can we do?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Melissa,

      Wasn’t that nice of her. She let someone else move in while you were still paying rent. So kind.

      I guess the real question is; when did the new tenant’s lease start? Does their lease start on July 1 or June 1?

      Your landlord did something wrong no matter how you look at it… here’s why:

      1. If the new lease starts on July 1st, then she allowed the new tenants to take possession (or at least move stuff in) while you still legally had exclusive possession of the place.

      2. If the new lease started on June 1st, then you should only be responsible for rent up until the first day of the new lease. If the landlord choose to give “one-month free” to the new tenants, that’s her choice, but you shouldn’t have to pay for her decision.

      Either way, I think you have a strong case to get some (or all) of June’s rent back. Try to find out more about the situation, but if she is not being cooperative, my suggestion is to contact a local landlord-tenant attorney and have them draft up a “demand letter” asking for your money back based on one of situations mentioned above.

      FYI, I’m not a lawyer, I’m just a landlord promoting ethical property management. A lawyer is the only one who can give you real legal advice.

      • Melissa

        Hey Lucas,

        Thanks for the quick reply.

        From what she said when she was being nice, which has now gone out the window, she stated that she was going to let them move in 5 days before July 1st (when their lease would start) to be nice. She stated that she would ask them to move their things out IF we turned the power and water back on in our name, we had them transferred to the LL name a month after we moved out with her consent.

        In my head though they have had their things there since at least the 20th when we discovered them, though probably before that. Shouldn’t she at least have to pay from the 20th through July 1 back? We are not in a position to get a lawyer and I can draft a polished letter and send it to her certified. We would hate to pay to go to small claims court but to us its about $300 and we would like it back.

        Thanks again!

        • Lucas Hall

          Hi Melissa,

          In the end, you have to follow through with your end of the agreement (aka. whatever your lease says). Further, if she agreed to prorate your rent if someone else moved-in, then I think you could hold her too that. However, if you go to court over it, you’d have to prove some sort of “damages”, lease breach, or that she lied somehow.

          I’m not a lawyer, I just know that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. As another landlord, I personally think that she is in the wrong, but you have to prove it in order to win.

          Perhaps you’ll have luck with a demand letter, and won’t have to go court.

          Good Luck!

  • Jeff

    Hey Lucas,

    I am a LL in Illinois and my tenant just moved out 6/30. She shortpaid her last month rent and there was excessive messes and damages that we incurred out of pocket expenses on. First question on that…She had a dog and paid a small pet deposit. The dog shed everywhere and our new tenants had an immediate allergic reaction. We vaccumed the ducts and replaced carpeting in one room where visible hair was everywhere. Can we put those expenses on the prior tenants bill?

    Also, the prior tenant moved out on 6/30 and left several of her belongings there. We packaged them up all in the garage, but what are our options to dispose abandoned property? I understand we have to send her a letter maybe but we do not know her new address.


    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Jeff,

      Generally speaking, a tenant must return the unit the the same condition as when they moved in, minus normal wear and tear.

      Excessive dog hair is not normal wear and tear.

      If I were in your shoes, I would have all the carpets professionally cleaned, replace the HVAC filter, and have the air ducts cleaned.

      Because the pet is just an extension of the tenant, you’re allowed to use the pet and/or regular deposit to offset your damages.

      With said, because she skipped out on partial rent, you are working with limited funds, and part of the deposit will have to go towards that missing rent. If this were my tenant, I would have everything cleaned, and then subtract it from the deposit. Then I would subtract any rent owed from the remaining funds. If there is any deposit left over, simply return it to the tenant with an itemized list of expenses. If you use 100% of the deposit, but it doesn’t completely cover all your owed rent and expenses, then you’ll need to send the tenant a bill. If she refused to pay it, you’ll have to take her to small claims court.

      The reason I suggested to cover repairs first and rent last is because you want any remaining debt to be towards rent – because it’s easier to sue someone for rent than it is a carpet cleaning.

      For the sake of the new tenants, I think you have to continue to clean the place and reduce as much of the dog allergens as you can. If the new tenants continue to have a massive allergic reaction, it might be in your best interest to let them out of the lease. However, make sure you have someone else lined up first. It could be that your new tenants are just super sensitive, but either way, they aren’t happy and it’s only going to cause you future issues with them.

      For the foreseeable future, you should probably ask any applicants if they have any allergies, as to avoid this situation altogether.

      In regards to the abandoned property, you should be very formal about it, which includes sending notice. Here’s a great article that might help you:

      I hope that helps. Just so you know, I’m not a lawyer. I’m simply an experienced landlord. If you’re looking for legal advice, you’ll need to contact a licensed attorney in your area.

      • Jeff

        Thanks Lucas, that’s great advice. My old tenant did not forward her address nor did she give me a new address. I have an email address from six months ago and she has answered texts since she left on 6/30. My last question is, what constitutes notification? We drafted an Abandoned Property letter giving her 30 days to claim her property out of my garage and sent it certified mail to my rental house (her last known address), and it obviously won’t be forwarded or signed for. I also emailed her the letter, but how do I know she received it? I also copy and pasted it into a text message, and she hasn’t responded to that either. I can do this repeatedly and with voicemails as well, but is that sufficient? I can see her suing me saying we threw away per plasma TV’s without notification.

        And then ditto on the damages letter I have ready to mail. How do I get that to her, and can I still file a small claims suit if I don’t know her whereabouts (although she moved within my small town).


        • Lucas Hall

          Hi Jeff,

          This might be a better question for a lawyer.

          I know that in my town, if I can prove that I’ve asked for a forwarding address multiple times, sent notice to the last known address, and posted notice in the local paper, then that would suffice as adequate notice. Often times, I’ll also just call the tenant and tell him/her verbally too.

          With small claims court, you usually have to provide a mailing address so the certified summons can be sent. Without proof of service, many courts will not entertain the case. Again, check with your local court house or a lawyer.

  • Traci

    Hi, I have been renting the same place for 3 years now. When we moved in the carpet wasn’t the greatest. It was very cheap and not laid down properly. It’s starting to lift up and is ripping. Is that the landlords responsibility to replace it? I live in Illinois I don’t know if it makes a difference.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Traci,

      A landlord can choose to replace the carpet whenever he/she wants to. The real question is: “can he/she hold you responsible?”.

      This is not an easy answer, because it all depends on the quality, durability, backing, type, and overall lifespan of the carpet. If your lifestyle/behavior shortened the lifespan, a landlord can only charge you for the # of years that you robbed from the carpet. For example, *IF* the carpet was brand new when you moved in, and it had a lifespan of 5 years, then you would have robbed it of 2 years. Therefore he could replace the carpet with something similar, and make you pay for 40% (2/5) of the price.

      Make sense?

  • Benjamin

    Hello, my tenant has been removed by the sheriff, has called to come get some stuff but 90% of everything left. Claims no place to live now. Has been 8 days no since vacant. How long must I wait to remove stuff, then what must I do with it?

  • Dylan Price

    Hi Lucas,
    I recently signed for a lease online (accidentally), and unknowingly, since it did not state it was a lease. Is there any law that might help me get out of my lease? My landlord says it’s illegal for them to let me out of the lease. I also did not have a cosigner or anyway to verify my financial responsibility, and am quite unable to pay any monthly payments.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Dylan,

      Maybe, but you’d have to talk to a lawyer. Many states also have a 3 day rescission period, where you can back out for any reason within 3 days.

      Also, the part about your landlord saying it’s “illegal” to let you out of the lease… that’s complete hogwash. The landlord can let you out if they want to. A lease is just a contract. All contracts can be modified or cancelled if both parties agree to it.

      My suggestion is to try and reason with the landlord. Explain that there is no way you can pay this rent, and that he’s not going to get anything from you. However, you do have some responsibility, because you should have known what you were signing. So you may owe him some money, perhaps a month or two worth of rent, in order to back out of the lease.

      If you really want to get off free and clear, you should talk to a lawyer. I’m just a landlord, not a lawyer, so this is not legal advice.

  • Melissa

    Hey Lucas,

    You helped me out a few weeks ago but o was wanting some clarification. Here are the facts:

    A. We entered our lease three years ago. Our landlord sold the house to his mom in december. They never had us sign another lease.

    B. We bought our house in May, they filled out landlord info for us for the bank and showed the house throughout March and April. We did not give anything in writing that we were ending the lease but we have text stating when they were showing it.

    C. We asked to use our security deposit as june’s rent. She said okay and we have that in writing.

    D. We moved out may 30th, transferred utilities to landlords name with their consent.

    E. June 15th we went back to mow and found othet peoples boxes in the home. We called the landlord and she stated she allowed them to bring in some things but didnt make them pay rent so she didnt owe use for the rent in which we had paid for the rest of june.

    F. I wrote a demand letter, she wrote back saying she’d see us in court, she was just being nice in letting them put their things there. She made a mistake in letting us use the deposit as the last months rent and because she had the utilities in her name and had cleaned more after we left that she didnt owe us anything. She also mentioned that we got dogs without prior approval howrver the previous landlord, her son, knew we had two dogs and did not have a problem with it.

    We want to go to small claims court to recover the money but want to make sure that we are correct in our thinking that she let people put their things there while we were paying rent and that meam they had possession.


    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Melissa

      To be honest, I don’t know what would happen in court. Your situation is complicated. There were so many things done wrong on both sides, and technically she’s not double dipping. Rather, she unlawfully allowed someone access to your unit. But if she isn’t going to hold you responsible for any damage they caused, not is there any damage to your personal property, then does it really matter? On principle, yes, but in the court room? I don’t know.

      Your best next step is to talk to a lawyer and get real legal advice. I’m not a lawyer but rather just an experienced landlord.

      A lawyer would be able to help you decide if you have a good chance at winning the case.

  • Jack

    We just rented a house in Illinois and was in the process of unloading, including belongings from a POD. POD arrived a week after moving in and wife started unloading. We have 10 days to empty the POD before company returns to pick it up. We had not had a chance to store everything and left gardening material (tomato stakes, etc) outside the garage. We had planned on moving them into the garage when we arrange other belongings to make space.
    During the period the POD being on-site. My landlord claimed everything outside the garage was an eye sore on his property and loaded our belongings onto his trailer and drove away. We found out he drove it around his farm property and parked it behind his barn.

    This house is not inside a subdivision or within city limits. Is he allowed to confiscate our belongings without allowing time to unpack? Is there a statue for “unlawful withholding of tenant property”?


    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Jack,

      Sheesh! Even if you landlord had the best of intentions, he’s not allowed to just take your stuff. That’s called theft. He’s lucky you figured out where it was, otherwise you might have called the police.

      Anyway, I’m not a lawyer, so please take this with a grain of salt – since it’s not legal advice. Perhaps the best way to handle it is to “thank” the landlord, and say “We appreciate you helping us clear the yard. We’ve now unpacked a lot of our stuff, and are ready to organize the stuff that’s in your trailer. Can you please return it to us? ”

      If he’s continues to be a jerk, just call the police. When someone takes your stuff against your will, and refuses to give it back, that’s called theft, and yes, it’s illegal ;)

  • Dylan Price

    Dear Lucas,
    Since I last talked to you I have tried to contact my landlord numerous times. The receptionists turned me away constantly until today, when I was able to set up an appointment. When I arrived at the correct time, I was informed by the receptionist that he had left only 5 minutes previously. Is my landlord breaking any rules or laws or is he just being ignorant of me?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Dylan,

      What law do you think he’s breaking? He’s just being inconsiderate.

      If I were you, I would plant myself in their office, first thing tomorrow morning. Tell the receptionist that you’re not going anywhere until he meets with you. He rudely didn’t show up for the appointment and now he needs to “fit you in”.

      The squeaky wheel gets the oil. Good Luck.

  • Dave

    Hello, I have been renting a house for two years. We are coming to the end of our lease agreement as I have purchased a home. My landlord notified me via email that he has a checklist of things he will be looking at to ensure I receive 100% of my security deposit. He sent me a three page list of possible damages a the subsequent dollar value that my rent would be reduced for each damage. This list was not presented when we signed the lease. My lease states that if I meet the requirements outlined in the lease then my security deposit will be returned in full. There are many parts of the list that are concerning but lets take two for example: $55 for each hole in the wall. It was never mentioned that I could not hang a picture with a nail. Does this mean I need to spackle and paint the house? Am I responsible for matching the paint to what is on the wall. Another one is clean shower $30. Am I responsible for recaulking the shower? I am a very clean person and they thanked me for keeping the house so nice for viewings. We have not done a walk through yet and I have not been charged for repairs yet but I was seeking advice prior to this occurring.

    Also a deposit for my dog was paid, if he does not cause damage, which he has not, do I get the deposit back?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Dave

      It’s not uncommon for a landlord to give a tenant a “cleaning instructions”, or a pricing list. You should be glad because it will help you to know what the landlord expects, and what the penalties are. Many times, a landlord doesn’t know what to charge for a large hole in the wall.

      When renting, a tenant is responsible for returning the unit to the same (or better) condition than when he/she first moved-in. In many cases, this includes doing a thorough cleaning before move-out. The shower was probably clean when you moved in, so you are responsible for cleaning it before move-out. If you’ve allowed mold to build up, then you would be responsible for fixing it. However, in the case of re-caulking the tub, I suggest asking the landlord if he would prefer to do that himself, rather than have you do it.

      The only thing you are not responsible for is “normal wear and tear”, which is small minor damage that would have occurred regardless of who was living there. Small little nail holes can be patched with hole filler, but don’t need to be painted. If you mounted a TV to the wall, and leave giant holes, then that wall will likely need to be painted.

      I hope that helps.

  • shawntay

    Hello my question is is it legal for my landlord to serve me a handwritten letter that states she is refusing to renew my lease and that I need to move out by that date. My lease is up 8/4/14. She has been refusing to fiz things in a timely for the year that I have lived here as well as the two years my neighbors have been here. The propert according to her is over 40yrs old and has not had any updates watssoever. I have never refused to pay my rent but have not paid it on time do to the fact that she refuses to fix things until shes ready for them to be fixed and me and my children have lived like this for the past year I am livid at this point that she would ask me to move in 3 weeks. Is there anything I can do? co

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Shawntay,

      A lease renewal is only valid if both parties agree to it. A landlord has the option of not offering a lease renewal. Obviously, without a valid lease agreement, the tenant would have to move out when the current lease expires. If the tenant doesn’t move out, they face eviction through the courts.

      You shouldn’t have paid your rent late, even if you disagreed with her lack of repairs. Now, the landlord has a reason to not renew.

      I don’t believe there is anything you can do, except for talking to a lawyer (which I am not)

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