Chicago security deposit law can be complicated, leaving many tenants in duress at the end of a lease. Landlords could attempt to leverage vague lease language in order to obtain extra rental payment or hold onto security deposits. Understanding chicago tenant rights is essential to avoiding losses when it comes to a rental agreement. Here are some frequently asked questions for tenants in the Chicago area.
What are the rules about security deposits?
Chicago has strict guidelines for how landlords treat the money associated with security deposits. They must:
- Keep security deposit funds in a separate, interest bearing account than other business funds,
- Provide receipts showing payment for work or items associated with security deposit deductions,
- Identify the bank where a security deposit account is located in the lease language, and
- Refund security deposits with interest in a timely manner once tenants move out.
What recourse does a tenant have?
Tenants who can prove a violation of security deposit guidelines may be able to seek recourse of up to two times the value of any deposit made.
How do I find out if a landlord deposited security funds appropriately?
Request a copy of the front and back of your canceled check from your bank if you suspect a landlord is not treating security deposit funds appropriately. This can help you figure out if the funds were deposited to the appropriate account. Landlords cannot put deposits in operating accounts and use the funds, since Chicago law considers the money an asset of the tenant until the landlord provides a reason for withholding it.
When do I need a security deposit lawyer?
If you believe your landlord is misusing funds associated with your security deposit or you are having problems recovering the deposit after moving out, you should consult an attorney experienced in Chicago lease law.
What if my lease says something different about the deposit?
Chicago regulations supersede any lease languages. Leases should be written in accordance with those regulations. However, if you sign a lease that sets forth terms in contrast with the regulations, you are not subject to those terms. In fact, landlords who attempt to enforce lease terms against Chicago regulations may be forced to provide tenants with two months free rent.