An Illinois lease is a legally binding contractual agreement between a landlord and a tenant. Leases can be oral for short-term rentals, but are most often in writing. These agreements establish the enforceable rights and obligations of a landlord who owns property and a tenant who is renting the space.

Forbes Advisor has created a free Illinois lease agreement template you can use to create your own lease agreement. Simply enter your email address below to receive a customizable template.

Illinois Lease Agreement Template

Illinois leases are complicated documents that contain many provisions related to rental properties.

An Illinois lease agreement template—like the free template available above—can be used by landlords and tenants to help them create a comprehensive contract that includes all the terms and conditions necessary to establish the details of their relationship and protect their rights.

What Is an Illinois Lease Agreement?

An Illinois lease agreement is an oral or written agreement between a landlord and a tenant. The purpose of the agreement is to establish a relationship between the landlord and tenant wherein the tenant is given access to property owned by the landlord, usually in exchange for monthly or periodic rent payments.

Illinois lease agreements also go by other names including:

  • Illinois rental contracts
  • Illinois rental agreements
  • Illinois rental lease agreements
  • Illinois lease forms
  • Illinois tenancy agreements

There are different kinds of Illinois lease agreements based on the type of property that the landlord owns and is renting out. Some common examples include the following:

  • Residential leases
  • Commercial leases
  • Roommate contracts
  • Subleases

When Is an Illinois Lease Agreement Used?

An Illinois lease agreement should be used whenever property owned by one person is used by another.

The main purpose of any Illinois lease agreement is to define the rights and obligations of the property owner as well as the renter. Once both parties sign the agreement, it becomes legally binding and either party can enforce the contract using the court system.

Who Needs to Create an Illinois Lease Agreement?

An Illinois lease agreement must be in writing if the rental term will last for 12 or more months. Oral leases can be enforced for lease terms under a year, but generally it is advisable to have a written lease to ensure both the landlord and tenant understand their rights and responsibilities. A written agreement also ensures that the agreement can be enforced by the parties.

What Parties Are Involved in an Illinois Lease Agreement?

The parties involved in an Illinois lease agreement include:

  • The renter. The renter is also called the tenant or lessee. This is the person or entity who is renting the property from the landlord.
  • The landlord. The landlord is also called the lessor. This is the person or entity that owns the property and who is providing it to the tenant.

When a tenant is not considered a qualified renter (perhaps because of low income or a low credit score), then there may be an additional party, called a guarantor, to the lease agreement.

The landlord may require a cosigner or guarantor who is better qualified and who agrees to share responsibility for complying with the lease terms. For example, if a tenant fails to pay rent, the landlord has a legal right to collect the unpaid funds from the cosigner. The cosigner is a party to the lease.

What Should Be Included in an Illinois Lease Agreement?

An Illinois lease agreement does not have to contain any particular language as long as it makes clear that the parties intend to enter into a rental arrangement. However, in order to ensure that the landlord and tenant both understand their rights and obligations, a lease generally contains the following information:

  • The names of all parties to the agreement
  • Details about the rented space including its location
  • Security deposit rules and requirements, including the amount due and when a landlord must return the deposit
  • The duration of the lease agreement, such as month-to-month or annually
  • The amount of rent due and payment provisions including when a tenant is considered late on the rent and what the potential penalties are if a tenant does not pay the rent on schedule
  • Rules for what the tenant can do in the space, such as whether the tenant is allowed to have pets or is permitted to sublease or prohibited from subleasing.
  • Rules for what rights the landlord has, such as what notice the landlord must provide before entering the property.

If a lease does not specify a duration and the tenancy is year-to-year, Illinois requires 60 days written notice for either party to terminate the agreement.

Illinois law also prohibits the inclusion of certain clauses in a lease, such as provisions that would exempt landlords from damages caused by negligent property maintenance.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is there a standard Illinois lease?

There is no such thing as a standard Illinois lease. Lease terms are set by the parties entering into the rental relationship. No specific words are required to be included in the document, and even oral leases are allowed for lease terms of less than a year.

When does an Illinois lease have to be in writing?

An Illinois lease must be in writing if the term of the lease is for a year or longer. While oral leases can be enforced for shorter term rental arrangements, it is more difficult to determine the intent of the parties to an oral lease agreement. As a result, there is greater potential for problems to arise and it is more difficult to resolve the conflict.

What are the benefits of an Illinois lease agreement?

There are many benefits of creating an Illinois lease agreement. The agreement gives both the landlord and tenant legal rights that they can enforce in court. For example, a tenant is entitled to the use of the property defined in the lease until the end of the lease term, while the landlord is entitled to the payment of rent as outlined in the lease agreement. If either party breaches the contract, they can pursue a remedy in court. The lease also helps to ensure that all parties to the contract understand what is expected of them so conflicts are less likely to arise.