9 min read Jun 10, 2020

What are the Seller Disclosure Requirements in Illinois?


What are the seller disclosure requirements in Illinois?

Almost every state in the US has a disclosure requirement or a law requiring sellers to disclose certain facts about the property. These facts include the age and condition of the property, age of the roof, structural issues such as foundation or walls, the source of its water supply, flood and water damage, etc. Whether you want to list your property on the MLS or pick a plan in one of several For Sale By Owner websites, both seller and buyer must sign and date the disclosure forms when selling a property. A disclosure document is supposed to provide home details and not conceal major defects in your home.

Illinois seller disclosures are especially complex. In addition to the disclosure requirements around the Federal Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act passed in 1992, Illinois sellers are also subject to Illinois’ 1994 Residential Real Property Disclosure Act.

Selling a home in Illinois? Here are the seller disclosure requirements you should be aware of:

  • Federal Disclosure of Information on Lead-Based Paint and/or Lead-Based Paint Hazards
  • Residential Real Property Disclosure

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What are my Federal disclosure requirements?

The Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act passed in 1992 requires the disclosure of any lead-based paint or chipped paint in any housing built before 1978. Under the law, home buyers also have a 10-day period to conduct a paint inspection or risk assessment for lead-based paint or related hazards.

Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act

The Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act passed in 1992 requires the disclosure of any lead-based paint or chipped paint in any housing built before 1978. Under the law, home buyers also have a 10-day period to conduct a paint inspection or risk assessment for lead-based paint or related hazards.

Note that properties that are built before 1978 in Wyoming are subject to the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act. As a seller, it’s your responsibility to disclose any known lead-based paint or chipped paint in the property that may affect the new homeowner’s health condition. In such case, your agent will provide an essential pamphlet, namely, Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home containing topics about the danger (health effects) of lead hazards and how to identify your home for lead. And also attached about the Lead Warning Statement and documents that verify the seller has fulfilled all statutory requirements.

The seller can provide 10 days for the buyer to conduct a risk assessment or paint inspection for lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards in the home. But both parties can agree in writing if they want to skip the inspection or prolong the duration of the inspection. Sellers can get their home pre-inspected and complete the certification to avoid a long period before the sale. For reliability and safety purposes, the homebuyers may look for a lead hazard inspection firm through this Certified Inspection, Risk Assessment, and Abatement Firms.

What are my Illinois disclosure requirements?

Although completing the disclosure form is a crucial process, you are not fully responsible nor your duty to perform an inspection to complete the Illinois disclosure form. As stated in the law, you don’t necessarily need to disclose defects if you don’t have actual knowledge of the problem. However, most sellers do home inspections before marketing their property. This step helps them to price the property accordingly, fix minor defects, or do minor upgrades to increase the home value. Yet importantly, you have to disclose any known material defects that have been discovered and notify the buyer about these problems before selling the property for sale.

Illinois' 1994 Residential Real Property Disclosure Act

Illinois’ 1994 Residential Real Property Disclosure Act is a statute that was enacted with the purpose of protecting home buyers from unscrupulous sellers who falsely report the condition of their property. It is supposed to provide buyers with a reliable representation of the major conditions of a property. It requires that sellers fully complete a form specifically answering 23 questions about a wide range of conditions of their property from foundation to plumbing and everywhere in between.

Every residential property sold from single-family up to four units, condominiums, and co-ops are covered by the Act and require the form be provided to buyers. The Act also covers lease options and Articles of Agreement for Deed a/k/land contracts. The Act does NOT cover new construction that has not been occupied, commercial condominiums or other commercial properties, foreclosure sales, deed in lieu transfers, sales or transfers due to divorce, probate or bankruptcy or transfers between

What does the Residential Real Property Disclosure Act require me to disclose?

To protect home buyers from encountering property problems and sellers who don’t disclose property defects, the state of Illinois passed the Residential Real Property Disclosure Act. It’s a law that obligates home sellers to disclose in writing any known material defects about their property. These are minor or major issues such as house quality, environmental issues, flood risk, safety, lead hazards, structural issues, and other problems. The disclosure form must be completed before the seller signs the purchase agreement. And more importantly, the disclosure form must not be treated as a home inspection or any warranty.

The reason why the Real Property Disclosure Act is enacted and the form must comply with is to protect buyers and give them time to decide whether the state of a property is well worth the sale. As a home seller, it’s your sole responsibility to review the form and meet the requirements before signing the purchase agreement. You can consult your real estate agent to learn more about what’s included in the form.

The Residential Real Property Disclosure Report form covers 23 separate line items:

  1. Whether the seller occupied the property during the last 12 months.
  2. Was there flooding or leakage in the crawlspace or basement.
  3. Is the property in a flood plain or is there flood insurance on the property.
  4. Are there defects in the basement foundation.
  5. Are there leaks or defects in the roof, ceilings or chimney.
  6. Are there defects in the walls or floors.
  7. Are there defects in the electrical system.
  8. Are there defects in the plumbing system (which includes water heaters, sump pumps, treatment systems, sprinkler systems, and swimming pools)
  9. Are there defects in the well system.
  10. Is the drinking-water safe?
  11. Are there defects in the HVAC system.
  12. Are there defects in the fireplace or woodburning stove.
  13. Are there defects in the septic, sanitary sewer, or disposal system.
  14. Are the radon levels safe?
  15. Are there unsafe asbestos conditions.
  16. Are there unsafe conditions regarding lead paint, lead pipes, or lead in the soil.
  17. Is there settlement or earth instability.
  18. Are there termites or other wood-boring insects.
  19. Did termites or wood-boring insects leave structural defects from a pest infestation?
  20. Are there underground fuel storage tanks.
  21. Are there any boundary line disputes.
  22. Have there been any violations of any laws relating to the property?
  23. Was the property ever used as a methamphetamine lab?

Who needs to complete and sign these seller disclosures?

Typically, every person or entity who is an owner, the beneficiary of a trust, contract purchaser, or lessee of a ground lease, who has an interest (legal or equitable) in a residential real property. This could be a seller with a full interest or a partial interest in the property.

What if the seller fails to disclose any of this information to the buyer?

Failure to disclose any major defects or any malfunctions existing in the property can lead to termination of the contract. The buyer may sue you for legal issues, specifically for negligence, misrepresentation on a disclosure form, and your homeowner’s insurance may oblige you to hire an attorney to defend you in court. According to 765 ILCS § 77/55, “A person who knowingly violates or fails to perform any duty prescribed by any provision of this Act or who discloses any information on the Residential Real Property Disclosure Report that he knows to be false shall be liable in the amount of actual damages and court costs, and the court may award reasonable attorney fees incurred by the prevailing party.” Even if the buyer is aware of the defects, you are still held liable for false statements in a disclosure.

Stay honest and professional when selling an Illinois property. As a seller, it’s your duty to review and double-check the disclosure form thoroughly. If you have questions about legal issues, be sure to consult your real estate attorney. And if you have queries about real estate codes, covenants, or the disclosure form, ask your agent directly. The form has every information you have to disclose—repairs or any improvements done should be also disclosed.

Note: Information in this blog post is meant to be used as a helpful guide, not legal advice. If you need legal help with a disclosure rule in your state, please consult a skilled real estate attorney.

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