This information is adopted from the City of Boston and altered to align for students at Eastern Illinois University.

1. Legal & Illegal Fees: A landlord can require you to pay the first month’s rent, the last month’s rent, and a security deposit in an amount equivalent to one month’s rent, a lock fee and a portion of an inspection fee. A licensed realtor can legally charge a broker’s fee. It is illegal for a landlord to charge a holding fee or pet fee. A landlord also can’t charge a broker’s/finder’s fee unless he is a licensed realtor.

2. Re-Inspection of Rental Unit: Landlords are required by law to have their rental units inspected for compliance with the State Sanitary Code soon after they are re-rented to new occupants. If you want to know about the inspection of your apartment, ask your landlord or call the City of Charleston at (217) 345-8430.

3. Leases and Tenancies-at-Will: Your landlord may offer you a lease, which typically runs for one year, or a verbal or written tenancy-at-will agreement, which runs from month to month. A tenancy-at-will agreement gives you the opportunity to move out after giving the landlord a proper 30-day written notice, but it also allows the landlord to ask you to leave or to give you a rent increase with a proper 30-day written notice. A lease offers you more security. Read the agreement completely before signing it and keep a copy for your records.

4. Security Deposits & Last Month’s Rent: Your landlord can legally require you to pay a security deposit and the last month’s rent in amounts no greater than the equivalent of one month’s rent for each. If your landlord collects them, he must, among other things, give proper receipts, pay interest on an annual basis, and in the case of the security deposit, put the money in a separate account in a bank.

5. Renter’s Insurance: You have probably invested more in personal property than you realize. Computers, stereos, TVs, clothing, jewelry and furniture would be expensive to replace in case of fire or theft. Renter’s insurance is a good idea and can be surprisingly affordable.

6. Code Violations: All tenants have a legal right to an apartment that is in compliance with local and state sanitary and building codes. Violations should be reported to your landlord in writing. If no repairs are made, call the City of Charleston at (217) 345-8430.

7. Noise: Be considerate of your neighbors. Loud parties or loud music, especially at night, may lead to complaints and may even cause your landlord to evict you.

8. Late Rent Payment: There is no “grace period” for rent. If it is due on the first of the month, rent paid after that date is considered late. Your landlord may charge you a late fee, but only if this is specified in a written agreement and only if the rent is at least 30 days late.

9. Evictions: If your landlord wants to evict you, he/she must terminate your tenancy with the proper written notice and then file a summary process action in court. Ultimately, only a judge can evict you. Make sure you respond to any court documents you receive. If you do not show up to defend yourself in court, you will lose by default.

10. Mediation: If you and your landlord have a dispute that you can’t resolve between yourselves, consider mediation. Mediation is an informal process in which you and your landlord can try to reach a resolution with the help of an impartial mediator. For information about the mediation services offered by Eastern Illinois University, contact Mr. Steve Davis in the Student Legal Services Department at via email at wsdavis@eiu.edu or via telephone at (217) 581-6054.