When a tenant moves into a new Chicago apartment, she or he may need to arrange for utilities like cable, internet, gas or electricity to be transferred into his or her name. Hopefully, by the time the tenant is moving in, he or she will know which utilities are his or her own responsibility to pay, and which will be paid by the landlord.

What Does the Apartment Lease Say About Utilities?

Every Chicago apartment lease should clearly define which utilities will be paid by the tenant directly, which will be paid by the landlord at no additional cost to the tenant, and which will be paid by the landlord but charged to the tenant as additional rent. And those are terms that cannot change during the course of the lease. (See the Illinois Rental Property Utility Service Act, 765 ILCS 735/1.2(b)).

In other words, if the lease says that the landlord will provide electricity to the apartment at no additional cost to the tenant, but the tenant runs up a huge bill because he’s afraid of the dark, the law would not allow the landlord to pressure the tenant to assume the electrical bill during the course of the lease. At renewal time, however, the landlord is free to negotiate a new utility arrangement. 

In Illinois, no landlord can require a tenant to take responsibility for paying a utility if the bill will include common areas (like hallways outside of the apartment, the gym, garage or laundry room), unless the landlord makes the disclosures required by the Illinois Rental Property Utility Service Act, 765 ILCS 735/1.2(a). 

If the lease says that the tenant is responsible for paying for any utilities, then the landlord should let the tenant know which providers to contact for service.

More reading: 

What to Do If There's No Heat in Your Apartment

Chicago Heat Disclosure Form - Annual Heating Estimate for Apartments

The general information that Domu provides about Chicago landlord tenant law is not intended as legal advice. Domu endeavors to provide accurate information, but the law is subject to change, and Domu is not a law firm or provider of legal services. Questions about your particular leasing situation should be directed to a lawyer.