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

When you Have No Lease

Whether you moved in and never signed a lease, or you once had a lease but after it ended you continued to rent on a month to month basis, Illinois state law requires you to give written notice before you move. If you pay rent once a week, you must give a weeks' notice. If you pay rent once a month, you must give a month's notice.

When you have no lease, your rental period starts on the day rent is due. If rent is due on the first of each month, you must give notice to the landlord NO LATER than the last day of the month, telling him or her that next month will be your last month. If rent is due on the 15th, you must give notice no later than the 14th of one month that you will be moving out by midnight on the 14th of the next month. FEBRUARY has fewer than 30 days, so to be safe, give notice no later than January 29 to terminate an oral, month to month tenancy on February 28. (Or if rent is due on the 15th, give notice no later than February 12 that you will be out by midnight on March 14).

You are still required to pay your last months rent, even if you move.


Make sure you can prove you gave notcie

Write a short letter saying when you will be moving out. Write the date on the letter. Photocopy the letter and keep a copy. Mail the letter by certified, receipt-return mail at the post office before the date the notice is due. That will help you prove that you really gave notice.

If you cannot prove you gave proper notice to end your rental arrangement, the landlord can hold you responsible for up to an extra months rent. The landlord cannot keep your deposit as a penalty. But the landlord can charge you for rent s/he lost as a result of having an empty place because you did not give proper notice.


Landlord's Rights when you have no lease

When you have no lease, the landlord can ask you to leave without giving a reason. This is called termination of tenancy without cause. The landlord is only required to give you written notice, a full rental period in advance, asking you to move on the last day of the rental period. You still must pay the last month's rent.

When you have no lease, a landlord can raise the rent at any time. There is no limit on the amount of the rent increase. If you cannot afford the rent increase, all you can do is give your notice of intent to move at the end of the next rental period.

Remember that, without a lease, you cannot prove any agreement on which you might be relying. Did the landlord tell you that the water bill is included in your rent? How will you prove this agreement when the water company stops service to your house because the bill is unpaid? Did the landlord agree to take care of lawn care? Again, how will you prove that agreement if the city gives you a violation notice for not mowing the lawn?


Landlord's Rights when lease expires

When you have a lease for one year or some other fixed term, you must move out when the lease is up. If you continue to stay after the lease ends, do not assume that you have a month to month tenancy. In some circumstances, you will be a holdover tenant and your landlord will get to decide whether your lease is extended on a month to month basis OR if your holding over renewed your lease for another fixed term. If you had a one year lease, the landlord could consider your holding over to mean that you have renewed for another full year.

A landlord can also sue to evict a holdover tenant and charge you double the amount of the rent or any other amount stated in the lease for the period of time you continued living in the apartment or house after your lease ended.

The only exception is in the City of Urbana. Under Urbana law, if the landlord did not give you notice at least one month before the end of your lease telling you that your lease would not be renewed, your tenancy would continue on a month to month basis until either you or the landlord gave the other party a month's notice, in writing, to end the relationship. Outside of Urbana, be careful. You might think you are continuing on a month to month basis, but the landlord has the power to decide that you've continued for another year.

The best way to protect yourself is to obtain a signed agreement from the landlord before your original lease ends stating whether your lease is will continue on a month to month basis or for another year. Without such an agreement, you really need to move out when your lease ends.

The best way to prove an agreement is to get it in writing!


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.