Click HERE to fill out a free, no-obligation questionnaire that will be reviewed to determine if your Illinois landlord might owe you money.
Click HERE to see full-text of the Illinois Security Deposit Acts and cases from the Illinois Courts of Appeals that interpret the Illinois Security Deposit Acts.
Click HERE for the Illinois Tenant's Security Deposit Small Claims Lawsuit E Book if none of these laws apply to you in Illinois or Chicago, and you need to sue your landlord yourself without a lawyer.
What's the Big Deal?
Many landlords do not abide by the Illinois Security Deposit Interest Act and Security Deposit Return Act. To tackle this problem, the Illinois Legislature has enacted penalties for landlords and awards for tenants. The awards for tenants are meant to encourage tenants to enforce their rights. The penalties for landlords are meant to encourage landlords to stop ignoring the law. Still, many landlords continue to violate the Interest and Return Acts because they correctly assume that most tenants (a) don't know the law and (b) don't have time to enforce their rights in court. That's why we represent tenants in valid security deposit claims at little or no cost to the tenant.
First, it is important to understand that the Illinois Security Deposit Acts only apply to certain landlords.
Landlords Who Must Pay Deposit Interest
Illinois landlords only have to pay interest on your security deposit if they own/operate an apartment complex with 25 or more apartment units (apartments). The 25 units can be in different buildings, but only if the buildings are on pieces of land that are next to each other. Finally, the Interest Act is written to apply to a certain class of landlords, as opposed to a class of rental properties, so that your particular building may not need to have 25 or more units, but your landlord needs to own or operate at least one building or complex with 25 or more units. This is this author's opinion.
Also, a tenant cannot recover under the Security Deposit Interest Act if the tenant was in default of their lease (didn't pay rent / broke the rules). Finally, unlike in Chicago, the Illinois law requires a tenant (or their lawyer) to convince the court that the landlord's failure to pay interest was a "willful failure or refusal." This finding will depend on the facts of each case. A lawyer can help you convince the court that your landlord's failure to pay you interest was willful. If they refused, that's usually straightforward.
The Illinois Court of Appeals has held that the penalty damages and attorney fees are to be assessed against a landlord when they have "ignored the mandate" of the Act. This sounds like an easier standard to meet than "willfully fails" and is the only Appellate Court opinion interpreting the phrase "willfully fails" in the Interest Act.
As for the Security Deposit Return Act, Illinois landlords of a building with five (5) or more units have to follow the strict timelines requiring return of the whole or partial security deposit within 45 days of move-out, and providing a written withholding statement within 30 days of move-out, and providing paid receipts for repairs and replacements no more than 30 days after the written statement.
With the above limitations in mind, keep reading and refer to the Security Deposit Act selections on the right to learn just some of the ways your past or current landlord could owe you money, or at least your deposit back.
The Illinois Security Deposit Interest Act requires Illinois landlords to pay interest on a tenant's security and pet and key deposits within 30 days of the end of every single 12 months of tenancy. The interest can be paid either as rent-credit or in cash. Crediting the deposit itself is not allowed. Deposit interest must be paid even in the case of a tenancy that lasts less than 12-months but more than six months. Even in the case of a multiple-year tenancy, interest must be paid within 30 days of the end of each 12-month period. Thus, a landlord who pays two years-worth of interest on a security deposit after a two 12-month tenancies has broken the law. So has a landlord who pays 15 months-worth of interest after a 15 month tenancy. Interest must be paid at the end of every single 12-months of tenancy. The interest must also be paid at a specific rate (which is different each year), and within a specific time frame (within 30 days of the end of each 12-months). A landlord's willful failure to comply with either of these requirements can be a violation of the Illinois Security Deposit Interest Act that entitles a tenant to an award.
Under the Illinois Security Deposit Return Act, a landlord is also required to send to tenants an accounting of what amounts the landlord intends to withhold from a tenant's security deposit within 30 days from the date a tenant vacates (moves out of) their apartment - even if that date is before the last day of the lease. This distinction is a common cause of confusion amongst landlords, and often results in an accounting statement being sent within 30 days after the end of the lease but not within 30 days of the tenant vacating... a violation of the Illinois Security Deposit Return Act.
Besides sending the written statement, the landlord also must supplement the charges on that statement with paid receipts which prove they actually spent the money they withheld on repairing your apartment. These receipts can be given to you up to 30 days after the written statement is provided.
If a landlord fails or to send a tenant an accounting for their security deposit within 30 days after the tenant moves out, then the landlord is not allowed to withhold any money from the security deposit. The landlord must then return the entire security deposit within 45 days from when the tenant moved out. Chances are, if a landlord failed to send a written accounting for the deposit within 30 days, they're not going to return the whole deposit within 45 days. In that case, if a landlord returns anything less than the whole deposit, or returns it more than 45 days after the tenant moved out, or does not properly supplement the statement with paid receipts within 30 days after the statement, or provides the statement in bad faith (bogus charges), then the landlord probably owes their tenant an award equal to double the amount wrongfully withheld from the security deposit, plus the original security deposit itself must be returned in full. If that landlord also failed to pay interest in the right amount or at the right time, they might owe the tenant even more money.
Unlike the Security Deposit Acts, there are certain other laws that Illinois landlords must abide by which do not expressly provide any award for tenants. In other words, proving your landlord broke these rules doesn't entitle you to anything. Still, these laws provide for criminal penalties like fines and imprisonment for violator landlords. Thus, negotiating the return of all or part of a withheld deposit can sometimes be facilitated by confronting a landlord with their violations of the (A) Federal and Illinois Lead Paint Disclosure laws or (B) Illinois Notice of Insurance by Non-Resident Owner law.
LEAD DISCLOSURE, (410 ILCS 45/9.1): All Illinois landlords of buildings built before 1978 must provide you with a lead disclosure form that you both sign, as well as a Pamphlet which describes the risks of lead. This must all occur before you enter into the rental agreement.
What are Unsafe Lead Levels for Kids?
Almost any lead is too much for kids, especially little ones. The recommendation of the Center for Disease Control is for all kids be screened for lead poisoning yearly. This is most critifcal for children from six months through six years old.
Contact a pediatrician or public health care provider for more information about lead testing in children. In Chicago testing is done before kids enter school, and a positive test may result in inspection of the dwelling.
NOTICE OF INSURANCE, (735 ILCS 5/9 320): Illinois landlords of any property with more than four more units who do not occupy the building themselves must provide by mail, in your lease, or posted near your mailboxes a form including the name, address and telephone number of the companies insuring the property against loss or damage by fire or explosion. If the residential real property is not insured, that must be stated in the notice. You must also be provided with the name, address, and phone number of the person responsible for managing the building.
Section 5(a) of this Act regulates landlords who charge tenants "their share" of the building's utility bill for a month. Unless the landlord has given the tenant IN WRITING an explanation of how that tenant's "share" of the whole building's utility bill was computed, and unless the landlord discloses to the tenant the building's total utility bill, the tenant is not required to pay their demanded "share" of the utility bill.
Don't let your landlord rip you off on utility bills they can't substantiate.
The Illinois Retaliatory Eviction Act provides that:
Effective January 1, 2012 is a new amendment to the Landlord and Tenant Act, Section 765 ILCS 705/15, which will require landlords to change or rekey locks in Cook County before the start of each new tenancy, unless the property has four or fewer units and is owner occupied. The law says:
The Illinois Law offers tenants large money damage awards plus costs and sometimes attorney fees when a landlord doesn't follow the security deposit rules because the Illinois Legislature wants tenants to enforce their rights. The award is an amount equal to or up to two times the security deposit, and does not include the original security deposit itself. Thus, a landlord's failure to pay a couple of dollars in interest on a $500 security deposit at the right time or amount can result in an award of $500 for a tenant. The tenant may still be entitled to return of their $500 security deposit. Nevertheless, many Illinois landlords either don't know or don't care enough to follow the rules. A landlord like that might owe you money.
Click HERE to fill out a free, no-obligation questionnaire that will be reviewed to determine if you have a viable claim as a renter.
Selections from the Illinois Compiled Statutes
A lessor of residential real property, containing 25 or more units in either a single building or a complex of buildings located on contiguous parcels of real property, who receives a security deposit from a lessee to secure the payment of rent or compensation for damage to property shall pay interest to the lessee computed from the date of the deposit at a rate equal to the interest paid by the largest commercial bank, as measured by total assets, having its main banking premises in this State on minimum deposit passbook savings accounts as of December 31 of the calendar year immediately preceding the inception of the rental agreement on any deposit held by the lessor for more than 6 months.
765 ILCS 715/2
The lessor shall, within 30 days after the end of each 12 month rental period, pay to the lessee any interest, by cash or credit to be applied to rent due, except when the lessee is in default under the terms of the lease. A lessor who willfully fails or refuses to pay the interest required by this Act shall, upon a finding by a circuit court that he has willfully failed or refused to pay, be liable for an amount equal to the amount of the security deposit, together with court costs and reasonable attorneys fees.
A lessor of
residential real property, containing 5 or more units, who has received
a security deposit from a lessee to secure the payment of rent or to
compensate for damage to the leased property may not withhold any part
of that deposit as compensation for property damage unless he has,
within 30 days of the date that the lessee vacated the premises,
furnished to the lessee, delivered in person or by mail directed to his
last known address, an itemized statement of the damage allegedly caused
to the premises and the estimated or actual cost for repairing or
replacing each item on that statement, attaching the paid receipts, or
copies thereof, for the repair or replacement. If the lessor utilizes
his or her own labor to repair any damage caused by the lessee, the
lessor may include the reasonable cost of his or her labor to repair
such damage. If estimated cost is given, the lessor shall furnish the
lessee with paid receipts, or copies thereof, within 30 days from the
date the statement showing estimated cost was furnished to the lessee,
as required by this Section. If no such statement and receipts, or
copies thereof, are furnished to the lessee as required by this Section,
the lessor shall return the security deposit in full within 45 days of
the date that the lessee vacated the premises.
WHAT'S A "COMPLEX"?
If the apartment buildings pictured above each contain only 14 units each, but are all owned or managed by the same landlord, then tenants in all of these buildings must be paid interest every year under the Illinois Security Deposit Interest Act, because the buildings are on contiguous (touching) parcels of property, and the apartment units in all of the buildings together add up to more than 25 units.
NO APPLICATION TO PUBLIC HOUSING
Remember, the Illinois Security Deposit Interest Act does not apply to public housing. Sorry.
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