A new state law goes into effect Sunday that requires landlords in Evanston and the rest of Cook County to re-key or otherwise change apartment locks when new tenants move in.

The statute amends the Illinois Landlord and Tenant Act, adding new section 765 ILCS 705/15, which requires that locks either be replaced or rekeyed. It also makes the landlord responsible for damages for any theft from the apartment that occurs as a result of a failure to follow the law.

The statute has several limitiations:

  • It only applies to apartments covered by a written lease agreement.
  • It does not apply to owner-occupied buildings with four of fewer apartments or to the rental of rooms in an owner-occupied private home.
  • It does not apply if the written lease agreement gives the tenant the right to change or re-key the apartment’s lock.
  • It does not apply to locks on common areas of apartment buildings, only to the locks on an individual dwelling unit.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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