When a tenant moves into a new Chicago apartment, they may need to arrange for utilities like cable, internet, gas, or electricity to be transferred into their name. Hopefully, by the time the tenant is moving in, they will know which utilities are their 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 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 massive 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 lease. However, at renewal time, 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, the landlord should let the tenant know which providers to contact for service.