Illinois Law & Security Deposits:

When Your Landlord Refuses To Return Your Security Deposit

by James Rowe, Attorney

The Law Firm of Rowe & Associates

Offices in Chicago, Illinois and Kankakee, Illinois

(312) 345-1357 -- (815) 929-3844

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James Rowe is the Principal of The Law Firm of Rowe & Associates, an Illinois law firm with offices in Chicago and Kankakee, serving the Northern and Central districts.

If your landlord is refusing to return your security deposit, you can take steps to recover it. In Illinois, the landlord must promptly return the security deposit if no damage has been done beyond normal wear and tear and the rent is fully paid. In Illinois, the primary statute that protects tenants from an unreasonable or shady landlord is the Illinois Security Deposit Return Act. The Illinois Security Deposit Return Act requires your landlord to return your security deposit in full within 45 days of the date you moved, if:

• Your building or complex consists of 5 or more units;

• You do not owe any back rent;

• You have not damaged the rental unit;

• You cleaned the apartment before you moved.

If your landlord refuses to return all or any portion of your security deposit, he/she must give you an itemized statement of the damages along with paid receipts within 30 days of the date you moved. If the landlord does not give the notice within the 30 day period, he/she must return the security deposit in full within 45 days of the date the tenant leaves. You can sue your landlord to recover your security deposit. If a court finds that your landlord violated the security deposit law, he/she could be liable for damages in an amount equal to two times your security deposit, court costs, and attorney’s fees.

If the landlord owns 25 or more units, he/she must also pay 5% interest on the security deposit from the date the security deposit was paid, if it is held for more than 6 months.

If your landlord doesn’t fall under the Act because your building or complex does not consist of 5 or more units, you can still pursue your security deposit in court. You would likely still have claims for breach of contact/lease, fraud, unjust enrichment and a host of others. The Act, and some other claims, may require your landlord to pay your attorney’s fees during the lawsuit, which means some attorneys will handle these matters on a contingency basis (no win-no fee, and the lawyer is paid by the defendant and/o out of what you recover, so you don’t have to pay your attorney anything up front.).

Your lawsuit can be filed in your local county courthouse for a nominal filing fee, but you will want to read up on the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure if you intend on representing yourself. Tread with caution though in uncharted waters; a simple mistake can leave you with your case dismissed, and leave your landlord with your security deposit. In these instances, because you are dealing with specific statutes and complicated fling requirements, it is best to find an attorney that offers free consultations and schedule an appointment.

Whatever you do, don’t give up. The law is designed to protect a tenant’s security deposit and to punish landlords who violate the law. By enforcing your rights you can recover your money and hopefully deter the landlord from committing future violations.

James Rowe, Attorney

The Law Firm of Rowe & Associates

Offices in Chicago, Illinois and Kankakee, Illinois

Call me at: (312) 345-1357Chicago -- (815) 929-3844Kankakee

E-mail me at:

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