At the time of a lease signing, and typically during the application selection process, the landlord and tenant will agree on who will pay for each utility service. The utility responsibilities should be specified in the lease agreement. Illinois does have some specific provisions regarding utility services and payments that are noted here.

Notice To Tenant When Meter Serves Area Outside Premises

Per 765 ILCS 735, the tenant is not responsible for direct payment for utility service to the utility company if the billing includes any service to common areas of the building or other units or areas used or occupied by persons other than Tenant. There are some exceptions in the statute. The tenant can be responsible for utility payments that include areas outside the premises if prior to offering a new lease or a renewal lease, accepting a security deposit, or in any other way entering into an agreement with the tenant to rent the unit the landlord does the following:

  1. Provides tenant with a written statement which indicates the specific areas of the building and any accessory areas that are served by the meter that will be in the tenant’s name and the nature of the utility uses of those areas, including any that have not been reflected in past utility company billings but that may arise (such as the rental of a neighboring unit that has been vacant, the installation of washers and driers in the basement, or the use of the garage for mechanics);
  2. Provides tenant with copies of the utility bills for the unit for the previous 12 months, unless waived by tenant in writing;
  3. Neither suggests nor requires tenant to collect any money for utility bills from neighboring tenants whose utility usage will be reflected in tenant’s utility company billings; and
  4. Sets forth in writing the amount of the proposed rent reduction, if any, that is offered to compensate for tenant’s payments for utility usage outside of tenant’s unit.

Disclosure Of Utility Payments Included In Rent

When a utility service is provided that uses a master meter, the landlord cannot seek payment for a tenant’s proportionate share of the bill without first providing the tenant with the formula, in writing, for allocating the payment among the tenants. This is described in 765 ILCS 740, and the statute specifies that the landlord provide the formula either as part of the lease or another written agreement. The total of payments under the formula for the building as a whole for a billing period may not exceed the sum demanded by the public utility. The formula shall include all those that use that public utility service and may reflect variations in apartment size or usage. Finally, at the tenant’s request the landlord must make available a copy of the public utility bill for any billing period for which payment is demanded.