Chicago Security Deposit Law



What are my security deposit rights in Illinois?



    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.


Only Certain Landlords Must Follow the Deposit Acts


     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.


Landlords who Must Follow Deposit Return Procedures


     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.


Interest Must be Paid at the end of Every Single 12-month Period


     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.


Deposit Return Rules


     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.


Additional Laws that Landlords Frequently Violate


      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.

  • Children with a blood lead level (BLL) of 20 micrograms per deciliter of blood, or higher, should be screened by their doctor for lead poisoning.
  • Medical treatment is necessary if the BLL is higher than 45 micrograms per deciliter.

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.


Tenant Utility Payment Disclosure Act


      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.



765 ILCS 740/5.  Disclosure of utility payments included in rent


   Sec. 5. Disclosure of utility payments included in rent. (a) No landlord may demand payment for master metered public utility services pursuant to a lease provision providing for tenant payment of a proportionate share of public utility service without the landlord first providing the tenant with a copy in writing either as part of the lease or another written agreement of the formula used by the landlord for allocating the public utility payments among the tenants. 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. The landlord shall also make available to the tenant upon request a copy of the public utility bill for any billing period for which payment is demanded. Nothing herein shall preclude a landlord from leasing property to a tenant, including the cost of utilities, for a rental which does not segregate or allocate the cost of the utilities.


     Don't let your landlord rip you off on utility bills they can't substantiate.


Retaliatory Eviction Act


     The Illinois Retaliatory Eviction Act provides that:



765 ILCS 720/1. 

     Sec. 1. It is declared to be against the public policy of the State for a landlord to terminate or refuse to renew a lease or tenancy of property used as a residence on the ground that the tenant has complained to any governmental authority of a bona fide violation of any applicable building code, health ordinance, or similar regulation. Any provision in any lease, or any agreement or understanding, purporting to permit the landlord to terminate or refuse to renew a lease or tenancy for such reason is void.

So what does this Act do for tenants who are retaliated against?  Nothing.  This Act states the public policy of Illinois, and may entitle a tenant to punitive damages or actual damages arising from the refusal to renew or eviction.  Proving retaliation may also be a defense to actual eviction.  There is no automatic penalty, or attorney fees, awarded to a tenant who is retaliated against under the Illinois state law.  In Chicago, the tenant may recover two-months' rent exemplary damages.


Requirement to Change Locks


     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. 


"Why would I enforce my renters' rights?"



Illinois Renters' Rights



What landlords are covered by Interest Act?

What rentals are covered by Return Act?

Illinois Security Deposit Interest Rates

Security Deposit Interest Act Rules

Security Deposit Return Act Rules

Lead Paint & Explosion Insurance Disclosures

Tenant Utility Payment Disclosure Act

Retaliatory Eviction Act

Cook County Landlords Must Change Locks

History & Public Policy behind Deposit Acts


Arms of Illinois

Selections from the Illinois Compiled Statutes

Illinois Security Deposit Interest Act

765 ILCS 715/1

     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.


765 ILCS 715/3

    This Act does not apply to any deposit made with respect to public housing.

Illinois Security Deposit Return Act

765 ILCS 710/1

     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.
     Upon a finding by a circuit court that a lessor has refused to supply the itemized statement required by this Section, or has supplied such statement in bad faith, and has failed or refused to return the amount of the security deposit due within the time limits provided, the lessor shall be liable for an amount equal to twice the amount of the security deposit due, together with court costs and reasonable attorney's fees.




"25 or more units aggregated between buildings on contiguous parcels of real property"



     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.







     Remember, the Illinois Security Deposit Interest Act does not apply to public housing.  Sorry.


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