Early Termination of a Residential Lease in Illinois

The Illinois Landlord and Tenant Act allows landlords and their tenants to enter into both written and oral lease agreements. Oral lease agreements typically cover period tenancies or tenancies for unspecified terms. Written lease agreements typically cover specified tenancy periods. Either landlord or tenant may terminate their periodic tenancy agreements without cause, as long as they provide proper notice. Terminating a term tenancy agreement requires a valid reason and notice.

Providing Proper Notice

Landlords and their tenants can prematurely terminate their lease agreements if their agreements contain early termination provisions. Early termination of a specified term lease agreement requires one party to have breached the agreement. Typically, nonpayment of rent is the most common type of breach. Landlords may terminate their tenants for nonpayment of rent if they provide adequate notice.

Under Illinois law, landlords must provide at least five days' written notice to their tenants. After five days, they may obtain eviction orders by filing eviction notices. For other lease violation evictions, Illinois law requires at least a 10-day written notice.

Terminating Periodic Tenancies

To terminate a lease agreement for an unspecified term, Illinois law requires notice from the party seeking to terminate the lease agreement. For year-to-year lease agreements, either party can end the landlord-tenant relationship by providing at least 60 days' written notice prior to termination.

For week-to-week agreements, either party can terminate by providing at least seven days’ written notice. To terminate a month-to-month tenancy, either party must provide at least 30 days’ written notice before the beginning of the next rental period. Illinois law requires farm lessees and their lessors to give each other at least four months’ written notice.

The Eviction Process

Landlords must serve their tenants with a demand notice requiring them to pay the entire delinquency or vacate. Tenants who pay their debts within five days may be able to stay until the end of their lease terms. Tenants who do not pay their debts risk eviction proceedings.

Landlords can go to court and file a dispossessory notice or suit for possession requiring tenants to move within 30 days or risk judicial evictions through police escort. The Illinois Forcible Entry and Detainer Act requires landlords to personally serve their tenants with a summons and complaint through a private process server or through the sheriff's office.

Illegal Terminations Have Consequences

Under Illinois law, landlords may not terminate their tenants for discriminatory reasons in violation of state and federal fair housing laws. Landlords in Illinois may not discriminate against their tenants who live with children under 14 years old. Landlords cannot terminate their tenants based on race, gender, age, religion or disability.

Always Seek Legal Advice

Since real estate laws can frequently change, do not use this information as a substitute for legal advice. Seek advice through an attorney licensed to practice law in your jurisdiction.