First Time Landlords
For a variety of reasons, the economy has produced a number of new residential landlords and tenants. In addition to preparing themselves for calls in the middle of the night about broken furnaces and plugged toilets, first-time landlords should understand the legal requirements involved with renting houses. A sampling of these laws is as follows:
Illinois Forcible Entry and Detainer Act – requires a landlord to go through the courts to evict a tenant;
Illinois Human Rights Act and federal Fair Housing Act – in most cases, prohibit a landlord from refusing to rent to someone, because of, among other things, his race, color, religion, or because he lives with someone who is under 18 years of age;
Illinois Smoke Detector Act – requires a landlord to install operating, approved smoke detectors within the property and, if the house was constructed or substantially remodeled after Dec. 31, 1987, to permanently wire the detectors into the structure’s electrical system;
Illinois Lead Poisoning Prevention Act and federal Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act – if the residence was built prior to 1978, require a landlord to provide prospective tenants with an Environmental Protection Agency pamphlet and a written disclosure of certain lead hazard information and records;
Illinois Carbon Monoxide Alarm Detector Act – requires a landlord to install operating, approved carbon monoxide alarm detectors within 15 feet of every room used for sleeping purposes and to provide the tenant with written information regarding alarm testing and maintenance;
Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act – requires a landlord who uses a third party to obtain a credit report to notify the prospective of certain rights and of the basis for any adverse action taken as a result of the credit report;
Illinois Safe Homes Act – requires a landlord to allow a tenant to terminate a lease early if the tenant faces a credible imminent threat of harm at the residence or if actual sexual violence occurred at the residence, as long as the tenant gives the landlord written notice three days before or after she leaves. A tenant also can change the locks or request the landlord to change the locks if a member of the tenant’s household is under a credible imminent threat of domestic or sexual violence at the residence from a non-tenant and
Illinois Property Tax Code – requires a landlord to include certain terms in a lease if the landlord desires to claim a leasehold exemption for real estate tax purposes.
For these and other reasons, we advise both new and experienced landlords to use written leases and to periodically have those leases reviewed for legal compliance.