Illegally withholding a tenant’s security deposit could mean big trouble for a landlord in the form of time consuming court appearances and considerable financial damages. However, many Chicago landlords continually and willfully violate chicago tenant rights even though the tenant has complied with municipal code and lease provisions. Tenants who are not aware of their rights and the protections afforded them under the state’s rental ordinances are especially susceptible to have their deposits illegally withheld.
Under these ordinances, namely the Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance (RLTO) for the Chicago area, certain renters at buildings with five or more units are protected against these illegal practices. If a tenant feels their rights have been violated, an experienced Illinois tenants lawyer many be able to help. If the landlord is found at fault, he or she may even be ordered to pay the attorney fees that the tenant incurred to bring their matter before the court. Many times, the at fault landlord is likely to be ordered to return double the amount of the tenant’s security deposit or rent as damages for their actions.
Under the Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance (RLTO), landlords must follow specific rules in order to legally withhold a tenant’s security deposit after they have moved out. Specifically, the landlord has a time frame that they must abide by to either return the tenant’s security deposit or provide a reasonable and fair accounting during that time frame as to why some or all of the security deposit will not be returned. Under the RLTO, landlords have either seven days after the date that the tenant provides notice of rental agreement termination or 45 days after the tenant vacates the dwelling if no notice was given, to return the tenant’s security deposit. In some cases, landlords may be able to deduct unpaid rent and a reasonable amount to repair any damages from the tenant’s security deposit.
A landlord can not legally withhold a security deposit if for example the tenant returns their keys a few days late after moving out. A recent Illinois case ruled that the at-fault landlord was still required to return the deposit within the aforementioned time frame that began on the day the tenant moved out and not on the date the keys were returned.