Illinois Tenant Laws for Verbal Lease Agreements

Illinois recognizes both verbal and written lease agreements. When leases are not in writing, courts consider this a verbal lease agreement for an unspecified tenancy or a verbal periodic tenancy agreement. Illinois considers the time between rental payments as the type of tenancy created between a landlord and tenant. Thus, tenants who pay rent on a monthly basis and do not sign a lease agreement are month-to-month tenants.

Landlords’ Duties

Landlords must provide necessary repairs and comply with state and local housing ordinances. Landlords must provide tenants with safe and fit housing. Landlords have 14 days after notification of rental defects or notification of needed repairs to provide those repairs. Tenants in Illinois may use a deduct and repair remedy that allows tenants to deduct up to half of one month’s rent or $500 after providing their landlords with a 14-day written repair request.

Terminating the Lease

In Illinois, either party may terminate a periodic tenancy so long as they provide the other with written notice. The amount of notice each party must provide depends upon the term of the tenancy between them. For annual tenants, either party may terminate the lease agreement at any time by giving 60 days’ written notice of intent to terminate the lease. For month-to-month tenants, 30 days’ written notice is required.

Security Deposits

Tenants with verbal lease agreements may be required to deposit an upfront payment as security. Illinois law does not cap security deposits, and landlords are not limited by the amount of money they may charge as a security deposit. However, Illinois requires landlords who rent buildings with at least 25 apartments to pay interest on security deposits held for six months or longer. Landlords must pay interest at least once a year or apply the interest toward a rent credit. Tenants may sue landlords for intentionally failing to disburse the accrued interest and recover the security deposit, attorney’s fees and court costs. Under the Illinois Security Deposit Act, landlords have 45 days after tenants move out to return their security deposits in buildings with at least five apartments.

Rent Increases

In Illinois, there is no limit to the amount of rent landlords can charge during rental increases for verbal lease agreements. So long as the landlord provides at least 30 days’ notice of increase for monthly tenants or seven days’ notice for week-to-week tenants, landlords can increase the rent as many times as they want.


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