Most tenants move when their lease is officially up, but a few opt to stay past the stated end date—often against the wishes of their landlord. These holdover tenants have limited rights in Illinois and may have to pay double rent or face eviction. In Chicago, however, the laws are a bit more lenient for these so-called “holdover tenants.”
Holdover tenants become month-to-month if a landlord accepts rent
When a tenant stays in their rental unit beyond the stated lease end date, they become a holdover tenant. If a holdover tenant continues to pay rent and the landlord accepts it, then a new month-to-month tenancy is created on the same terms as the original lease.
However, Illinois courts have decided that a landlord accepting rent from a tenant is not always enough on its own to establish a holdover tenancy.1 Other indicators of a landlord’s intent—such as attempting to regain possession of the property or a lease term stating that receipt of rent after lease expiration isn’t an extension—would also be considered by a court if the issue went to trial.
Holdover tenants may be charged double rent
In certain cases, a holdover tenant in Illinois may be charged double rent as a penalty. An Illinois landlord has the right to charge a holdover tenant double rent if the tenant:
- Willfully stays despite a written demand from the landlord to leave the unit2
- Notifies their landlord that they plan to leave on a specific date, but remains in the unit past that time3
In either case, the tenant must know that staying in the unit is wrong—and do so anyway. A tenant who stays in the unit reasonably believing they have the right to do so cannot be charged double rent.
In one Illinois case, a commercial tenant whose lease expired was required to return to the property to complete work on the premises.4 The tenant was physically on the property and left some equipment there. But since the landlord required the work to be done and the work didn’t interfere with the landlord’s use of the property, the landlord couldn’t charge double rent.
Landlords can evict a holdover tenant
Just because a tenant wants to stay in their unit after their lease ends, it doesn’t mean their landlord has to let them. With proper notice, landlord can evict a holdover tenant like they would any other renter who wasn't abiding by the terms of the lease. That said, landlords cannot force a holdover tenant to leave by doing such things as changing the locks or shutting off utilities. This would be considered an illegal eviction, even if a tenant’s lease has expired.
If the holdover tenant had a month-to-month lease, the landlord has to give them at least 30 days’ written notice before filing for eviction with the court. In the case of a week-to-week lease, a landlord only has to give a holdover tenant seven days’ notice.5
If the holdover tenant had a fixed-term lease, then the rules are different. Generally, a landlord doesn't have to give advance notice before proceeding with the eviction process after the agreement has expired (unless the lease says otherwise—in which case, the lease goes).6
Chicago tenants aren't "holding over" if they weren't given notice
Depending on the circumstances, Chicago tenants don’t automatically become holdover tenants at the end of their lease.7 Under city law, a landlord who wants to end a tenancy must notify the tenant at least 30 days before the end date of the lease. (This applies to both fixed-term leases and month-to-month tenancies.) If the landlord doesn’t give the required 30 days’ notice, tenants can stay in their rental up to 60 days after the end date on the lease without being considered holdover tenants. The tenants must pay the same rent and abide by the terms of the original lease during this time.
The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.