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What Is the Law with Respect to Chicago Security Deposits?

Jan. 24, 2019

The five violations under the Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance ("RLTO" or "CRLTO") for which statutory damages may be awarded under 5-12-080 of the Chicago Municipal Code are detailed below and apply to Chicago renters who have given their landlord a security deposit. So long as your landlord is subject to the Chicago RLTO (the lion's share of all rental properties in Chicago are covered) your landlord must abide by these requirements or be subject to return the entire deposit, plus damages equaling two times the security deposit, attorney's fees and court costs.

a.Failure to put and keep the security deposit in a separate bank account that is not commingled with any of the landlord’s funds.

b.Failure to issue a receipt for the security deposit which contains the amount of the deposit, the person who received the deposit, the date, a description of the dwelling unit, and a signature.

c.Failure to pay or credit interest on the security deposit within 30 days after the end of each 12 month period.

d.Failure to account for and return the security deposit, with paid receipts for all deductions. If any deductions for damage are taken out, an itemized statement plus receipts for actual costs must be tendered in 30 days. If the work has not been completed within the 30 day period, the landlord must still provide written notice of estimated repair costs for damages within 30 days. Within 30 days after the estimate was provided, the landlord must provide a written itemized statement with actual costs and receipts (so in no event more than 60 days from when the tenant vacated).

Lastly, failure to provide written notice upon the sale of the property and transfer of the security deposit. The new and old landlords should provide written notice within 10 days after the sale contained the new landlord’s name, business address, telephone number, and a written acknowledgment that the new landlord is holding the tenant’s security deposit. If a management company is utilized by the landlord, that must also be listed as well.

SPECIAL NOTE: The penalties under the Chicago RLTO are singular, i.e. tenants are limited to a single award of damages equaling double the security deposit, no matter how many violations of the ordinance that the landlord committed. This applies to any of the statutory violations found in 5-12-080(a)-(e). For example, if a landlord failed to return a security deposit and thereby did not return the accrued interest, the tenant is entitled to one penalty, not a series of penalties.

Keep in mind that there are a few other cities in Illinois with their own ordinances, including Evanston, Mount Prospect, DeKalb and Urbana (to name a few). Make sure to check these ordinances in the event the property in question is located there. For more information on Illinois tenant rights, Chicago security deposit administration, and landlord-tenant law contact me today for a free consultation at