Do I have to Add Roommates to My Lease in Illinois?

How to Evict a Roommate in Illinois | Can my Roommate Evict Me if I’m Not on the Lease?

Video by Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Article written by Illinois & Iowa Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Updated on
October 28, 2019

In this article, we will explain how to evict a roommate in Illinois and discuss Illinois roommate eviction laws.  We will answer the question, “do I have to add roommates to my lease in Illinois?”  We will explain how to evict a roommate who is not on the lease in Illinois as well as how to evict a roommate who is on the lease.

Do I have to Add Roommates to My Lease in Illinois?

Always seek your landlord’s approval before inviting an additional tenant into your home. Although adding a roommate to the equation can be an easy way to cut down on the costs of renting a house or apartment, sometimes things don’t work out. Prior to inviting another tenant into your home, find out what your lease says about having roommates. In most cases, adding a roommate is acceptable, as long as you notify your landlord of the new companion or family member.

If your lease agreement does not allow additional tenants, do not invite roommates into your home. If the situation goes south, you may need your landlord to get involved to evict an unwelcome roommate, and you could also be evicted for violating your own lease agreement. Be sure to read your lease carefully before adding a new tenant to the mix.

How to Evict a Roommate Who is Not on the Lease in Illinois

Ideally, you can simply have a civil conversation with your roommate and ask him or her to leave in an acceptable amount of time. When having this conversation, be sure to put your request in writing, date it, and file a copy. Remember, if your roommate does agree to move out, you will be responsible for his or her share of rent and utilities, if applicable.

Assuming your situation is a bit stickier than this, getting rid of a roommate who is not a legal cotenant may be more challenging. If he or she refuses to leave, you may need to consult a lawyer before proceeding. The state of Illinois has enacted eviction laws to establish a lawful and peaceful framework for the removal of unwanted tenants from real property. The Illinois Forcible Entry and Detainer Act clearly states:

“...no person has the right to take possession, by force, of premises occupied or possessed by another, even though such person may be justly entitled to such possession. The forcible entry and detainer statute provides the complete remedy at law for settling such disputes. Persons seeking possession must use this remedy at law for settling such disputes. Persons seeking possession must use this remedy rather than force.”

In other words, you cannot physically force an unwelcome tenant to move out of your unit. This family member, guest, or friend technically holds possession of the property by the prior “oral agreement” of the person having a claim of title. Because you initially allowed them to live with you, they can only be removed by going through the formal Illinois eviction process. Calling the police to physically remove your unwanted roommate will not be effective, as the Forcible Entry and Detainer Act also applies to police officers and landlords. If your unwanted guest can prove that he or she was originally allowed to move in, he or she cannot be removed as a criminal trespasser.

So, what can you do? You’ll have to formally terminate the right of possession of the unwanted guest through a written 30-day notice to terminate his or her tenancy. If the individual still hasn’t vacated the residence after 30 days, you have the right to file an eviction lawsuit. A judge can demand this individual vacate the apartment. This process can be very timely and costly, but it is the only way to legally evict an unwanted occupant to whom you gave possession to the property by either real or apparent permission.

Even if this person is a family member, or maybe never even paid rent, he or she does have tenancy. This tenancy can be proven by receiving mail at the property, owning a driver’s license with the property’s address, leaving belongings at the unit, having a key to the unit, sleeping at the residency regularly or semi-regularly, or even just claiming to live there. Believe it or not, not having paid rent is a non-issue.

If you’re thinking about changing the locks on this person, reconsider. Because you originally allowed this person to live with you, locking them out is actually illegal. It may even result in a lawsuit against you! A wrongful eviction may subject you to legal liability, which can become very costly on your end.

Evicting a Roommate Who is On the Lease in Illinois

If you and your roommate have both signed the lease, you both have equal rights to occupy the residence. It will be extremely difficult for you to single-handedly evict your roommate if he or she does not wish to leave. If you have good reason to remove your roommate, you will have to get your landlord involved. “Good reason” does not refer to minor disagreements or differing schedules – valid reasons for eviction include illegal drugs, violent behavior, or any other violation of the lease. The landlord may be the only legal authority besides a judge who can begin the eviction process.

If your roommate is subletting a unit from you and has signed a formal sublease agreement, you are legally his or her landlord. As an Illinois landlord, you do have the authority to follow the legal process to evict your sub-lessor.

To learn more about how to evict a tenant, check out our article: How to Evict a Tenant in Illinois.

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