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Notice Requirements to End a Lease in Illinois

Depending on the type of lease agreement, Illinois law requires landlords and tenants to provide a certain amount of advance notice before they move out.

Many tenants in Illinois have a fixed-term lease—often a year long—that allows them to remain in a rental unit for a set period of time before the lease terminates. However, some tenants will find themselves in so-called “month-to-month” or “week-to-week” tenancies. In these instances, a landlord who wishes to end the tenancy must give the tenant a certain amount of notice that the lease will not be renewed, before that landlord is able to evict the tenant.

Written lease terms overrule everything else

If a tenant has a written lease, there is a good chance that they know exactly when their lease is up: the lease says so. If a lease says it expires on July 31st (for example), then that’s it—past July 31st, the tenant is overstaying the lease. At this point, the landlord is free to begin eviction proceedings against the tenant. The landlord has no special requirement to inform a tenant that their lease is about to expire, because the tenant should know this already, by reference to their lease. Nor do tenants need to inform their landlords that a lease is up, if it has a specified end date (unless the lease says otherwise, although these clauses are rare).

Oral and unconventional leases may not have an end date

Not every lease has a built-in expiration date. Illinois law, for example, allows for the validity of verbal leases that are never written down, provided said lease is for a period of a year or less.1 (A lease that is intended to last for more than a year must be in writing.) These leases might not contain any specified end date, and be more akin to a landlord saying a tenant can stay and pay a certain amount every month or two. Other leases have specific clauses that allow the lease to automatically renew. These clauses are legal in Illinois.2

Other leases can be thought of as periodic, or “rollover,” leases. In these, a tenant occupies a rental unit on a weekly, monthly, or yearly basis (or any other period of time you can dream up—every 12 days would be legal, for example, if a bit complicated), with no set end date. In these cases, the lease automatically renews after a set period of time even if the lease does not explicitly state this—neither the landlord nor the tenant needs to take any action for the lease to renew. Lease arrangements like this give both landlords and tenants more flexibility.

Periodic tenancies can be created accidentally

While some rollover tenancies can be created by landlords and tenants specifically, others, called “holdover” tenancies, can be created without any explicit agreement. This happens when a tenant stays in a rental unit after their fixed lease is up—the tenant “holds over” in the rental unit. If the landlord continues to accept rent from the tenant, the tenant creates a periodic tenancy (usually month-to-month), subject to the notice requirements detailed in the next section.3

Landlords have to give advance notice to end a periodic tenancy

However, with this flexibility comes uncertainty for both parties – a landlord or tenant may choose to end the arrangement unexpectedly.

To help tenants navigate this uncertainty, Illinois law requires landlords to tell tenants that a lease will no longer be automatically renewed, some time before the renewals stop. Only once the landlord provides this notice, and the notice period expires, can the landlord begin eviction proceedings.

  • For leases that run week-to-week, landlords must provide at least seven days’ notice to the tenant that the lease will not be continuing.4
  • For leases that run longer than a week, but shorter than a year (for example, leases that renew automatically on a monthly or bimonthly basis), landlords must provide at least 30 days’ notice to the tenant that the lease will not be continuing.4
  • For leases that run year-to-year, landlords must provide at least 60 days’ notice to the tenant, before the lease is up, that the lease will be ending. Interestingly, for these rare year-to-year leases, the tenant must also provide the landlord with 60 days’ notice if the tenant wants to end the lease.5

All of these notices must be in writing—they can be mailed to the party receiving notice, or given to them directly, but they cannot be verbal or sent by text or email.

In most cases, tenants don’t have to give advance notice that they’re vacating

From a legal standpoint, Illinois tenants aren’t required to notify their landlord that they want to terminate a month-to-month or week-to-week lease. However, it’s generally a good idea for tenants to let their landlord know they’re moving out, and—given the vagueness of the law—it is recommended that tenants do so.

Also, know that the tenant must actually leave the residence before the current rental period ends. If the tenant doesn’t vacate in time, the lease automatically renews again, and the tenant is on the hook for the rent payment.6 For example, if a tenant has a month-to-month lease, and doesn’t want the lease to renew on August 1st, they must be fully moved out of the residence, including belongings, by July 31st.

[1] 740 ILCS 80/2

[2] Laster v. Chicago Housing Authority, Appellate Court of Illinois, First District, First Division.

[3] Bismarck Hotel Co. v. Sutherland, 529 N.E.2d 1091, Ill. App. Ct. 1988

[4] 735 ILCS 5/9-207

[5] 735 ILCS 5/9-205

[6] Bell v. Groom, 224 Ill. App. 58 (1922)

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