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Kevin O'Flaherty

In this article, we will explain the Chicago Security Deposit laws and how they may differ from laws in other areas. For more on security deposits, see our article “can my landlord keep my security deposit?”

What are the Chicago Security Deposit Laws?

Chicago’s local law relating to landlord and tenant relationships is called Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance and is considered one of the strongest in the nation for protection of tenant rights.  A copy of this Ordinance must be provided by the landlord to the tenant.  If the tenant is not provided a copy, the tenant is within their rights to terminate their own lease with notice.  A printable summary of the RLTO can be found on the official website for the city of Chicago.  

This ordinance contains several key protections for tenants in regards to their security deposit.  These include:

  • Having your deposit returned within 45 days of vacating the property. This deposit will be returned in its entirety.  The only time a landlord can remove money from a security deposit is to pay for damages or unpaid rent.
  • Gaining interest on your deposit every 12 months. This payment can be made in cash or in credit towards rental fees and must be paid to the tenant within 30 days of the 112-month date.
  • Receiving a receipt for the deposit once it is received by the landlord. This can give tenants the peace of mind and physical proof that their deposit was paid as well as evidence for what the deposit payment was agreed to.
  • Receiving a receipt for any changes such as penalties or fees for damages to the property. This will help the tenant keep track of what fees they are paying for damages and help assure them that the balance is remaining consistent with the fees.  
  • The security deposit must be separated from the landlord’s personal funds and the tenant must have the name of the bank in which the deposit is held.  This will help keep track of the deposit and assure that a landlord cannot claim the payment was lost.  
  • Requirements for the landlord to pay attorney fees if a tenant is successful in filing a claim against them.  This will help encourage tenants who believe they have been wronged to come forward.  If they are not threatened with high-cost legal fees even in victory, tenants should feel more secure in making claims.

How is Chicago’s Security Deposit Law Different from Illinois State Security Deposit Laws?

In comparison to other states, Illinois is often regarded as one of the most pro-tenant states in the country, with many laws in place to protect the rights of tenants in Illinois.  However, Chicago residents and landlords have their own local laws regarding Tenant/Landlord relationships that is considered even more strict. Tenants are still protected by state rights from Illinois, but they are also protected by Chicago’s RLTO.  For more on Illinois security deposit rights, see our article “Illinois Tenant Rights Explained”.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.


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