Off-Campus Community Living University of Illinois Off-Campus Community Living Student Affairs


It is against the law for a landlord to refuse to rent to you, to change the terms of an offer to rent, or to treat you differently during your tenancy for reasons that are considered discriminatory. The chart below indicates which laws protect people, depending on the reason for the discrimination.

Discrimination Prohibited on the basis of: Federal State Champaign Urbana
Race or Color X X X X
Religion X X X X
National Origin or Ancestry X X X X
Sex X X X X
Physical or Mental Disability X X X X
Children in the Family X X X X
Marital Status   X X X
Sexual Orientation   X X X
Military Status or Unfavorable Military Discharge   X    
Age     X X
Personal Appearance     X X
Political Affiliation or Activity     X X
Student Status     X X
Source of Income     X X*
Arrest or Conviction Record     X** X
Class       X

* In Urbana, under the provision for "source of income" a landlord cannot refuse to rent to you solely on the basis of the fact that you will be paying rent with a Section 8 voucher or other rent assistance.

** In Champaign, a landlord may refuse to rent to you if you have been convicted of a forcible felony or a drug-related felony and have not lived outside of prison for at least 5 years without being convicted of an offense involving drugs or violence.

How do you know if you are a victim of discrimination?

Sometimes a manager or owner will be very blatant about discrimination. S/he might tell you directly, "we don't allow three children in a two-bedroom apartment," or "we require an extra deposit from international students." These are illegal practices.

Other times, particularly with discrimination based on race, the landlord might be more subtle. Perhaps you were told when you called that the place was available, but when you appeared in person, the story changed and the landlord said it was taken. A week later, you saw that the place was still being advertised in the newspaper. Or the landlord checks your credit, but rented to white tenants with no credit check.

Whether the practice is blatant or subtle, discrimination is against the law and you can do something about it. Get as much information as you can about the situation -- the name of the company or owner of the property; the address of the property; the advertisement from the newspaper; the manager's phone number; and any other information you know about the place.

Filing a complaint does not cost you any money. You should file your complaint with the Tenant Union and with every government office that has jurisdiction. If your problem is covered by federal law, file with HUD, the Illinois Department of Human Rights and with Champaign or Urbana human relations officials. If the problem is one covered only by local law, file your complaint with the local official and with the Tenant Union.

The city in which the property is located, or the city in which the landlord's business is located, is the city where you should file your complaint. See contact information below.


Occupancy Standards for Families with Children

A landlord cannot refuse to rent to you on the basis of your having children or "too many" children unless the total number of people occupying the apartment or house, including the children, is greater than the number allowed by local zoning laws.

If you use a family room, parlor or dining room as sleeping space for family members, you can count the square footage of those rooms to determine whether the house is large enough for your family. A kitchen, bathroom or hallway may not be used for sleeping purposes.

People Sleeping in a Room Room Size - Champaign Room Size - Urbana
1 70 square feet 70 square feet
2 100 square feet 80 square feet
3 150 square feet 120 square feet
4 200 square feet 160 square feet


Additional Resources

City of Champaign Community Relations Office: 217-403-8830>

City of Urbana Human Relations Office: 217-384-2466

Illinois Department of Human Rights: 217-785-5100

H.U.D. Office in Chicago: (312)-353-7776 or 800-669-9777


The Tenant Union does not provide legal services of any kind. All information provided in this publication is intended to help the average person prevent problems and deal with common concerns of renting. When legal help is needed, always consult with an attorney at law.