Illinois can charge between one and two months’ rent to be used as a security deposit. After your lease ends and you return the keys, your landlord has 30 days to return your money.
Dishing out security deposits is one of the annoying parts of renting—not only are they an outright expense, but getting that deposit returned also feels like quite the hassle.
Moreover, the specific regulations governing security deposits differ from state to state, making it difficult to understand your rights as a renter.
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Jerry is here to break down all the finer points of Illinois’ security deposit laws, from limits and timelines to what you can do if a landlord refuses to give your money back.
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What is Illinois’ law on security deposits?
In Illinois, all security deposits are refundable deposits given by tenants to show their desire to move into a property.
When you pay a security deposit, you can normally expect to get your money returned at the end of your tenancy—unless you breach the terms of your lease with your landlord.
What is the maximum security deposit a landlord can charge in Illinois?
Landlords in Illinois are generally allowed to ask for between one and two months’ rent as a security deposit for homes and apartments. Landlords in mobile home parks can only charge up to one month’s rent.
Keep in mind that a landlord can ask for this sum in addition to the first month's rent, so you might end up paying up to three times your monthly rent when moving in.
How long does a landlord have to return a security deposit in Illinois?
Your landlord has 30 days to reimburse your security deposit after you’ve ended your lease and turned in your keys. This allows the landlord time to inspect the unit and ensure that you've completed your responsibilities as a renter.
If you live in a property with five or more units, however, the landlord has between 30 and 45 days to return your security deposit after your lease expires.
What can a landlord withhold a security deposit for in Illinois?
Though your security deposit cannot be completely nonrefundable, a landlord is legally authorized to retain all or part of your security deposit to cover the following:
Cleaning fees to return the unit to its original condition
Damage other than normal wear and tear
What constitutes damage other than normal wear and tear? It’s basically damage that could have been avoided during the normal process of renting.
This includes damage caused by irresponsible use and neglect—you could be charged for water damage if you failed to tell the landlord about a leaky faucet, or carpet replacement if a friend spilled red wine at a party.
If your landlord chooses to keep a portion of your security deposit, they have to provide you with an itemized list of deductions. They can't simply keep your money without telling you the reason.
Key Takeaway All security deposits in Illinois must be refundable, but your landlord may retain all or part of the money if you default on rent or damage the unit.
How to get your security deposit back in Illinois
Assume you moved out of your old place a month ago and have yet to receive your security deposit. How do you make sure you get the money?
Start by contacting your landlord and requesting the security deposit in writing. It's possible that they forgot to send it or wrote down the wrong forwarding address. A friendly request may be the nudge the landlord needed to get you your money back.
If your landlord refuses to relinquish your security deposit or you think they've wrongfully withheld a portion of your deposit, you can sue them in
small claims court. This can be frustrating and time-consuming, but depending on the value of the deposit, it may be worthwhile.
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