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Eviction Based on a Tenant's Breach of a Lease's Prohibition Against Assignment and/or Subleases: Summary of Illinois Law

Many leases contain provisions that prohibit a tenant from assigning the lease or entering into a sublease agreement without the landlord's prior written consent. There are valid reasons why a landlord would desire a prohibition against an assignment and/or sublease. For example, landlords have a legitimate interest in ensuring that the leased premises are occupied by tenants with the wherewithal to pay rent.

Absent a prohibition, tenants are generally free to sublease their leaseholds. Standards, conditions and/or prohibitions controlling or limiting transfer or subleasing should be expressly stated in the lease.

Under Illinois case law (reported decisions) provisions in commercial leases that restrict or prohibit assignments or sublets are enforceable. However, such provisions are strictly construed against the lessor (landlord) and may be deemed waived if the landlord continues to accept rent after being informed of a sublease and/or assignment. Jung v. Jemel, 189 Ill, App. 3d 191 (1989).

The Bottom line: an Illinois landlord should ensure that his or her lease agreement contains clear and unambiguous restrictions against subleasing or assignment without prior written consent, and should act immediately if he or she suspects that a tenant has breached an anti-assignment/subleasing provision.

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