Illinois Security Deposit Returns & Deductions

Illinois Security Deposit Returns & Deductions

Last Updated: January 2, 2023 by Ashley Porter

Quick Facts Answer
Acceptable Deductions
  • Unpaid rent and utilities
  • Costs of damage
  • Costs due to breach of lease
  • Charges outlined in the lease
  • Other actual costs not in lease
Return Deadline 30 days with deductions

45 days if no deductions

Itemized Deductions Only if the landlord leases 5 or more units
Penalty for Late Return 2x deposit + amount wrongfully withheld + court costs + attorneys’ fees

For laws on security deposit collections and holdings in Illinois, click here.

Security Deposit Deductions in Illinois

In Illinois, the following things can be deducted from security deposits:

  • Unpaid rent or utilities
  • Costs of damage excluding normal wear and tear
  • Costs incurred due to a breach in the lease
  • Charges outlined in the lease
  • Other actual costs not outlined in the lease
note

Although state law allows a wide variety of deductions from the security deposit, Chicago Municipal Code is more specific and only allows deductions for unpaid rent and the cost of damage excluding normal wear and tear.

Some local governments in Illinois have landlord-tenant laws with their own rules for security deposits, including:

Most states, such as Illinois, do not have a legal limit on how much a landlord can charge for damages except that the charges must be reasonable.

If the cost of the damages exceeds the amount of the security deposit, landlords are entitled to seek additional damages from the former tenant.

What is Considered Normal Wear & Tear vs Damage in Illinois?

Normal wear and tear is damage that is expected when a rental unit is used in a normal way, such as gently worn carpets and faded walls. Damage is the destruction caused by abusive or negligent use of a rental unit, like ripped carpets and heavily stained walls.

“Normal wear and tear” is deterioration that occurs naturally as a result of the tenant using the property as it was designed to be used.

Examples include:

  • Gently worn carpets
  • Lightly scratched glass
  • Faded paint and flooring
  • Lightly dirtied grout
  • Loose door handles
  • Stained bath fixtures

Damage” means destruction to the rental unit that occurs because of abuse or negligence by a tenant during the course of the tenancy.

Examples include:

  • Heavily stained, burned, or torn carpets
  • Broken tiles or windows
  • Holes in the wall
  • Missing fixtures

Can the Landlord Charge for Replacing the Carpet in Illinois?

Yes, landlords can charge for replacing the carpet if it is damaged beyond ordinary wear and tear.

Some wear and tear on a rental unit’s carpet is expected after normal day-to-day use of the property. For example, carpets typically become discolored, indented, or gently worn, when used in a normal way. However, non-typical, abusive use of carpet results in rips, visible stains, or burns. Landlords have the right to charge the tenant for the replacement of the carpet in areas where serious damage has occurred.

Can the Landlord Charge for Nail Holes in Illinois?

Yes, landlords can charge a tenant for nail holes if they damage the walls in a way that is not a result of ordinary enjoyment of the rental unit.

Tenants have the right to use the walls within their unit in a reasonable way. This includes inserting small nails or thumbtacks to hang posters or pictures. However, large holes from drilling, multiple nail holes, large nail holes, and holes made for hanging heavier things may be considered damage and thus, chargeable to the tenant.

Can the Landlord Charge a Cleaning Fee in Illinois?

Illinois law allows landlords to include a standard cleaning fee in the lease agreement. Landlords may also charge for reasonable cleaning costs. This means the cost is consistent with normal rates for cleaning services and the cleaning is limited to bringing the unit back to its original condition at the start of the lease.

Landlords cannot charge for excessive deep cleaning or at a rate that is not typical for local cleaning services.

As an example, in Byington v. Lease An Apartment, Inc., in 2012, an Illinois court determined that a landlord was reasonable in deducting $60 from the security deposit to professionally clean the carpets. The court analyzed the fee, which was $14 per hour of labor, for two to three hours, plus the cost of supplies, and found it to be reasonable.

Can the Landlord Charge for Painting in Illinois?

Yes, in Illinois, landlords can charge for painting, except for normal wear and tear. For example, if the tenant:

  • Causes damage beyond normal wear and tear
  • Repaints the wall but is not permitted to do so under the lease agreement
  • Repaints the wall in an unprofessional way

Normal wear includes minor scrapes from daily use, fading due to sunlight, or minor cracks in the original paint. Landlords can charge for repainting if the damage is not the result of normal use. This includes stains, large or deep scratches, and water damage.

Can a Security Deposit Be Used for Last Month’s Rent in Illinois?

Illinois law does not forbid the security deposit from being used for any outstanding rent.

Landlords can include a provision in the lease agreement that the security deposit cannot be used for the last month’s rent until the tenant vacates the rental unit.

Security Deposit Returns in Illinois

Landlords must return security deposits within 45 days from the date the tenant vacates the unit if there are no deductions or within 30 days if the landlord intends to make deductions. Landlords that lease five or more units, must send a written statement of deductions with the remaining portion of the security deposit (if any) with receipts.

The security deposit and written statement (if required) must be sent by hand delivery, mail, or email.

How Long Do Landlords Have to Return Security Deposits in Illinois?

Illinois landlords have 45 days after the tenant vacates the rental unit to return a security deposit if there are no deductions, or 30 days when they intend to withhold all or a portion of the security deposit.

Do Landlords Owe Interest on Security Deposits in Illinois?

Illinois law does require landlords to provide interest on security deposits, but only in some situations, and some cities, like Chicago, have different rules regarding interest on security deposits.

Although the rates are calculated differently, the current interest rate in both Illinois and Chicago is 0.01%.

By Illinois state law, landlords must pay interest on security deposits if they lease 25 or more units (either in one building or in a complex of buildings) and the security deposit is held for six months or more. Interest accrues from the day the landlord receives the deposit.

In Chicago, tenants are entitled to interest after their security deposit has been held for longer than six months and accruing from the first day of their lease term. Dwelling units in owner-occupied premises containing six units or fewer are exempt from this rule.

When a tenant is entitled to interest on their security deposit, it must be either credited towards rent or paid to the tenant directly within 30 days after the end of each 12-month rental period, if the accrued interest is $5 or more. However, the $5 limit does not apply in Chicago so interest must always be paid to eligible tenants on an annual basis.

How Do Landlords Give Notice / What Information Do They Have to Provide in Illinois?

When landlords leasing five or more units make deductions from the security deposit for repairs, a written notice must be delivered by hand delivery or mail to the tenant’s last known address oremail and must include the amount of the security deposit due (if any) to the tenant, plus a written statement of deductions.

Landlords do not have to send a written statement of deductions if their only deduction is for unpaid rent or if they lease four or fewer rental units.

Itemized Statement of Costs. The costs listed on the itemized statement can be specified and justified as follows:

  • When the actual costs are paid, the landlord must specify the damage repaired and include originals or copies of the receipts.
  • A written estimate of the cost of restoration or repairs done by the landlord or the landlord’s employees may be used in lieu of actual costs and receipts.
  • When the landlord is only able to provide an estimate of the cost of work completed by a third party within the time frame, the landlord can include reasonable estimates of the cost but must provide the tenant with the receipts or copies thereof within 30 days of providing the itemized statement.
  • Where the deductions are charges that are specific amounts provided for in the lease, the landlord can include a copy of the portions of the lease agreement  referencing those charges in lieu of receipts.
  • Where the landlord is not able to provide the receipts or copies of receipts as required by no fault of their own, the landlord may provide whatever evidence the landlord has of having paid the costs and a sworn statement detailing the reason for the lack of receipts.

If the tenant fails to provide the landlord with the last known address or an email address, the landlord will not be liable for any damages.

A template of a security deposit return letter is available to download on our website.

Security Deposit Disputes in Illinois

If landlords do not return the security deposit or provide an itemized statement of deductions (if any) within the required time period, they are liable for actual damages in court.

However, if a landlord is found to have acted in bad faith or intentionally violated the security deposit rules, they may be liable for up to twice the amount of the deposit in addition to the amount wrongfully withheld, court costs, and attorneys’ fees.

Tenants can also take legal action against a landlord for making unreasonable deductions from the security deposit.

How Can Tenants File a Dispute for a Security Deposit in Illinois?

If a landlord fails to return the security deposit, the tenant can file a dispute in Small Claims Court if the amount of damages is less than $10,000. If the amount is greater, the tenant must file a civil case in the local Circuit Court.

A small claims case for a landlord-tenant dispute must be filed within 2 to 5 years depending on the type of claim and an attorney is not required but allowed.

Small claims cases are filed in the Circuit Court in the county where the property is located or where the defendant lives or has an office.

Our website provides more information about the process of filing a dispute in Small Claims Court.

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