Returning Security Deposit

In this guide, you'll learn when and how to return security deposits.

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Written Statement of Damages
How Long to Return the Security Deposit
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Where to Send the Security Deposit


The Security Deposit Return Act governs the return of security deposits.  This Act only applies to Landlords of buildings with 5 or more units (contained in a single building or complex of related buildings). If the Landlord owns several unrelated buildings that collectively contain more than the required number of units, the landlord is not covered by the statute.  

If a Landlord owns 4 units or less, the general rule is that the Landlord may retain the security deposit until the obligations it was intended to secure have been satisfied by the tenant.  A Landlord may wish to comply with the Act - even if it doesn't apply - to avoid potential liability.  Check with local officials as some cities have enacted special rules on security deposits.

Written statement of damages

  • Landlords of buildings with 4 or fewer units located (located in the same building) do not have to give tenants written statements of damages unless the Lease requires otherwise. Even so, it's a good idea to provide a Notice of Security Deposit Withholding to avoid potential claims.
  • Landlords of building with 5 or more units must give tenants a written statement describing any damage to the property and the amount the Landlord intends to withhold.  The landlord must deliver the written statement to the tenant within 30 days after tenants move out. The landlord must list the actual or estimated cost of repair and give receipts for repairs.

How long to return the security deposit

The security deposit with must returned to Tenants within  45 days after the Tenants move out.  If a Landlord doesn't return the security deposit within this time, or supplied the written statement of damages in bad faith, then the Landlord shall be liable to the Tenant for an amount equal to twice the amount of the security deposit due, together with court costs and reasonable attorney's fees.

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Where to send the security deposit

You have two options: (1) deliver in person or (2) by postmarked mail directed to the last known address of the Tenant or another address provided by the Tenant. 

If the Tenant didn't leave a mailing or email address, then you shouldn't be liable for any damages or penalties as a result.  765 ILCS 710/1(a)


What if I can't find receipts?  If you can prove that it wasn't your fault that receipts or copies can't be found, then you can produce an itemized list of the cost of repair or replacement, any other evidence of the cost, and a verified statement detailing the specific reasons why you are unable to produce the required receipts or copies and verify that you have provided all other evidence of the cost.  765 ILCS 710/1(b)


Notice of Security Deposit Withholding

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Security Deposit Return Act - 765 ILCS 710/et seq.
Can't Find Receipts - 765 ILCS 710/1(b)

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This article is for general information purposes only and should not be considered legal advice or legal opinion on any specific case and/or circumstance.  This article does not create an attorney/client relationship.  No guarantee for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.  The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should be based solely on advertisements.

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