Landlord Liability in Illinois

Premises liability is the concept that a person who owns a certain premises is responsible for another person's injuries if the injuries occur on the property. Landlord liability is an extension of premises liability. If you need an attorney to sue a building owner for negligence related to an accident please contact us.

The following is typically what you need to win your case.


It is harder to show a landlord is negligent regarding an injury taking place inside the leased property, as opposed to a common area such as stairs or common areas like a laundry room. This is because the person leasing the space has control over the space and the landlord may be not be aware of problems or hazards.

Negligence standard

Still, if you can show the following, you may be able to establish landlord liability:

(1) a latent defect existed at the time the lease was signed, (the definition of a latent defect is aa fault in the property that could not have been discovered by a reasonably thorough inspection before the sale")
(2) the landlord knew or should have reasonably known about the defect, and
(3) the tenant could not have discovered the defect through a reasonable examination.

Other ways to establish landlord liability

Did the landlord conceal from the tenant a known dangerous condition?

Did the landlord promise to repair the premises at the time of leasing but later fail to repair it?

Did the landlord voluntary undertake to repair or improve the property but did not use reasonable care?

If you answered yes to any of the above, you may be able to establish landlord liability. Basically, you must prove six things to hold a landlord liable:

The landlord was responsible for maintaining the part of the premises causing the injury.

The landlord failed to take reasonable measures to avoid the injury.

Fixing the problem or giving adequate warnings would not have been cost prohibitive or too difficult.

It was likely that a serious injury would occur if the landlord did not repair the problem.

The landlord's negligence was the cause of the injury.

The victim was legitimately injured.

Snow Removal

The state of Illinois does not require landlords to shovel snow or remove ice from sidewalks, walkways or stairs. However, there may be a local municipal law requiring the landlord to remove snow or ice for postal workers or delivery people. Chicago, for instance, requires owners to remove snow within 3 hours from the time it stops snowing or until 10 am the following day.

The general rule is that anything that accumulates naturally is not the landlord's responsibility. However, if a landlord allows ice to accumulate due to something beyond natural causes, such as a leaky gutter, then the landlord is liable for any injuries that may result. Also, if a landlord shovels snow poorly, he may be liable. Basically, landlords have a duty to maintain their property in a safe condition and many courts have sided with injured parties when there was a reasonable amount of time to shovel or clear the area and it was not cleared.

Regardless of the law, it's a good idea to shovel and salt walkways and stairs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls are the number one cause of fatal injuries among the elderly.

What about insurance?

The state of Illinois does not require landlords to have insurance but it is imperative to protect a landlord from lawsuits and compensate the injured. Landlords should also carry insurance to protect against damage from weather, fires, burglary or vandalism. A comprehensive general liability ("CGL") policy covers injuries caused by a defective condition on the premises as well as attorneys' fees for defending a personal injury lawsuit. Almost every building owner does carry insurance and in 99% of lawsuits it is the insurance company, not the landlord directly, that pays to settle a case.

Now what?

Contact us so we can point you to an attorney in your area who is a right fit for your case. All inquires are free and confidential. We only recommend experienced, hard working, successful attorneys. If we recommend them to you that means that we as attorneys would also be willing to hire them.