Security Deposits

Posted on September 21st, 2020 by Danielle Giannola

Civil Litigation Lawyer Cook County IL

When moving out of a rental home, tenants are extremely eager to see the return of their security deposit. Landlords are required to follow state law when handling your deposit, which means using it only for certain expenses and returning it to you by a specific deadline. However, not all landlords comply with, or even know, the law. It is important that you know your rights and how to get your deposit back in a timely manner. If you have questions on your getting back your security deposit, contact Giannola Legal LLC’s experienced civil litigation lawyers in Cook County, Illinois for a free consultation.

When is the landlord required to return my security deposit?

Most states set a deadline for when landlords must return a security deposit. For Illinois, the landlord is required to return the deposit within 30 days of the date that the tenant vacated the premises (765 ILCS 710/1 (a)). Along with the remaining part of your deposit, the landlord is also required to send an itemized statement as to how the deposit has been applied toward back rent, cleaning, and repairs.

How can the landlord use my security deposit?

State laws typically allow landlords to use security deposits over unpaid rent or unpaid utility bills, repairing damage you or your guests have caused (not including ordinary wear and tear), and cleaning the premises so they are as clean as when you moved in (765 ILCS 710/1 (b)).

Ordinary wear and tear includes things like a worn-out dishwasher, a loose door handle, worn wood floor, or even small paint chips on the walls.  Tenants are generally not responsible for ordinary wear and tear and should be weary of landlords who try to charge them for things that ordinarily wear out in a rental unit.

If you are unhappy with the deductions from your security deposit, follow up with your landlord. It may be possible to work something out with them and come to an agreement that could be beneficial for both parties. Always put your negotiation deals in writing and have both you and your landlord sign it, making it a legal contract and usable in small claims court if the landlord breaks their end of the deal.

How do I write a demand letter to my landlord?

If your landlord has erroneously used funds or just simply not returned the funds timely, write your landlord a demand letter asking for the return of the deposit. Many states will require this letter if you decide to take the case to small claims court, and even if it is not required, the letter may encourage your landlord to act.

A demand letter should:

  • Review the main facts and lay out the reasons your landlord owes you money;
  • Include copies of relevant letters and agreements, such as your notice to move out;
  • Ask for exactly what you want, such as the full amount of your deposit returned to you in a certain time span;
  • Cite state security deposit law, which you can find through a google search; and,
  • Say that you will promptly sue in small claims court if necessary.

How do I take my case further, should I need to?

If your landlord does not respond by your deadline or you are not satisfied with your response from them, you can file a lawsuit in small claims court. If your landlord refused to supply the itemized statement for your security deposit or failed and refused to return the deposit within the time frame required by law, the landlord can potentially be liable for twice the amount of the security deposit (765 ILCS 710/1 (c)).  If you choose to do continue in small claims court, it is important that you gather all of the evidence you are able to, including your notice of intent to move out, photos of the rental unit when you left, and demand letters.

f you are having legal issues with your landlord regarding your security deposit, give our civil litigation lawyers in Cook County, Illinois at Giannola Legal LLC a call for a free consultation and more insight on how you can move forward with your case.

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