Updated on

Fair Housing Laws in Illinois

Illinois state law bans housing discrimination in seven additional categories, including sexual orientation and marital status.

The national Fair Housing Act bans discrimination in home buying, selling, and renting across the United States. Although all landlords must abide by these federal laws at minimum, state governments can set even stricter standards. The Illinois Human Rights Act, for example, offers broader protections than the federal government—shielding people from discrimination based on their age, sexual orientation, and more.

Illinois' fair housing laws protect more renters from discrimination

The Illinois Human Rights Act1 adds seven protected classes to those already listed in the federal Fair Housing Act. They are:

  • Age (40 and above)
  • Ancestry
  • Marital status
  • Military status
  • Unfavorable military discharge
  • Sexual orientation and gender identity
  • Order of protection status

Most of these are pretty straightforward, with the exception of “order of protection status.” That means that a person is protected under one of several Illinois laws that deal with domestic violence, sexual assault, sexual abuse, and stalking (or similar laws issued by another state).2

"Marital status" only protects married couples

Although “marital status” is listed as a protected class under Illinois state law, this protection applies only to married couples. Landlords can’t treat married tenants differently than single ones—for instance, a landlord could not designate one of their apartment buildings as a “singles-only” complex and refuse to rent to prospective tenants who are married.

Unmarried couples, on the other hand, are not protected from discrimination under the Illinois Human Rights Act. In a 1990 case, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that landlords could refuse to rent to unmarried couples because the refusal is based on the tenants’ conduct (that is, living together before marriage), rather than their status of being unmarried.3

Some cities in Illinois offer additional protections

Some cities in Illinois include even more protected classes. For example, in Chicago, landlords may not discriminate against tenants for their source of income—meaning that they cannot refuse someone for using Section 8 vouchers to pay their rent.

[1] 775 ILCS 5/1-102(A)

[2] 775 ILCS 5/1-103(K-5)

[3] Mister v. ARK Partnership (1990)

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.