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If you own rental property in Chicago, IL, then it is good to know the laws for the State of Illinois concerning the landlord-tenant relationship. The Illinois Landlord and Tenant Act has very specific rules that landlords must follow regarding the changing and rekeying of locks in between tenants. New tenants want to know they are secure in their new home and the law gives them this right by requiring you to change or rekey the locks prior to them taking possession of the property. Failure to comply with this specific requirement can result in steep penalties.

Illinois Landlord Laws

image of a high-rise apartment building

If you own or manage a multi-unit dwelling unit in Illinois, it’s important to change or rekey the locks on each unit for each new tenant.

The Illinois Landlord and Tenant Act was amended in 2012. This amendment requires landlords in counties with a population exceeding three million to change or rekey the locks on a dwelling after a tenant moves out of the residence. You may be exempt from this law if:

  • You have owner-occupied buildings containing four or fewer units
  • You’re renting out rooms in your private residence

This law was put in place to ensure landlords change or rekey the locks after a tenant moves out and before a new tenant moves in. There is one exception to this requirement. If the written lease States that the tenant may change or rekey the locks of the dwelling unit after their tenancy ends and before a new tenant takes possession of the residence, then the landlord is not required to change or rekey the locks to the residence. If, however, the written lease has no such clause, then the landlord is responsible for changing and rekeying the locks.

Definition of Changing or Rekeying

According to Illinois law, changing or rekeying can refer to any of the following:

  • Replacing the lock
  • Replacing the locking or cylinder mechanism within the lock so that a different key must be used with that lock
  • Changing the combination on a combination or digital lock
  • Changing an electronic lock so that the means or method of unlocking the lock is changed
  • Changing the means of gaining access to a dwelling so that it is different from the means used by the former tenant to gain access

Penalties for Failure to Comply

Landlords who are required to follow the Illinois landlord laws may face harsh penalties if they fail to comply with the requirement to change or rekey the locks after a tenant vacates the property and before the new tenant takes possession of the dwelling. A violation of this law will result in the landlord being liable for any theft and related damages that occur to the tenant as a result of the landlord’s failure to rekey or change the locks.

How a Locksmith Can Help

Landlords in Chicago, IL will want to ensure compliance with Illinois landlord laws to avoid penalties. If you’re responsible for changing and rekeying locks for several units, this can be cumbersome and take quite a bit of time. You’re going to be busy getting the unit ready for the next tenant. Perhaps you have repairs to make, walls to paint, floors to repair and other responsibilities. Your last thought is probably going to be that of changing or rekeying the locks. Unless you have a team of maintenance technicians to help you, your best bet is to learn how a locksmith can help when it comes to changing and rekeying the locks to your rental units.

Changing the Locks

image of a locksmith replacing a lock set on a front door

Changing locks after each rental tenant leaves will keep you in compliance with Illinois landlord laws.

A locksmith has the experience, knowledge, and equipment to effectively change the locks on your rental units when the service is needed. You may elect to change a lock if the current lock is damaged. Other reasons why you might request a locksmith to change the locks are:

  • You want your locks to be in a different color or design
  • You want to upgrade your security and upgrade your locks to high security or electronic locks
  • You want the same key to work on all locks in your home which will require you to change the locks so that they are all the same brand

Rekeying the Locks

If you own several rental units, rekeying the locks might be a more cost-effective solution versus that of changing the locks, especially if you’re required to change locks often. You’ll be able to keep the hardware and only a new key is needed. The knowledgeable locksmiths at Keyway will use the latest equipment to effectively rekey your locks and ensure you’re in compliance with Illinois landlord laws. In addition to saving money, you may also choose to rekey your locks because:

  • You are satisfied with the current locks, but it is necessary to ensure the old key no longer works with the lock
  • You have several keys to the different locks, but you would prefer to use one key with all the locks which are possible if all the locks within a dwelling are of the same brand
image of a lock cylinder removed for rekeying

Rekeying the locks on your rental property doors is often more cost-effective than replacing the entire lock.

Since Illinois landlords are under strict rules when it comes to changing and rekeying locks for rental units, it is essential to ensure such a task is performed promptly and correctly each and every time a tenant moves out of the residence and before the new tenant moves in. Since landlords often have many responsibilities they are juggling at one time, it is best to leave the task of changing and rekeying locks up to the professional locksmiths at Keyway in Chicago, IL.

Not only do we work with all major brands of locks and hardware, but we will provide you with top-notch service that is second to none. Don’t take a chance on failing to comply with Illinois landlord laws where you could face stiff penalties. We can change or rekey the locks on one unit or several hundred units. If you try to take on the responsibility of changing or rekeying the locks to your rental units, one oversight could mean you’re liable for any damages that might occur to the tenant for your failure to properly change or rekey the locks. Don’t let that happen. Call Keyway today.