The State of Illinois, by way of Public Act 097-0470, just amended the Illinois Landlord and Tenant Act, adding new section 765 ILCS 705/15.
Effective January 1, 2012, landlords in counties with a population in excess of 3 million people (ie. Cook County) are required to change or re-key the locks on a unit after lease termination.
The changing or re-keying must occur after the unit has been vacated and on or before the day a new tenant takes possession. The law defines “changing or re-keying” as any of the following
- replacing the lock,
- replacing the locking or cylinder mechanism in the lock so a different key must be used to unlock the 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 or,
- changing the means of gaining access to the locked unit so it is not identical to the prior tenant’s means of gaining access to the unit.
The law imposes a harsh penalty on landlords who fail to comply. A landlord who violates the law is liable to the tenant for any damages the tenant may incur if a theft occurs at the dwelling unit that is attributable to the landlord’s failure to rekey or change the lock.