security deposit recovery Reda Ciprian Magnone, LLC attorney lawyers in Chicago assisting landlords and tenants

Are you a tenant or a landlord with a question about your security deposit? Contact us:

Reda | Ciprian | Magnone, LLC
8501 W. Higgins Suite 440
Chicago, Illinois 60631
fax 773.399.1144
email us

Useful Links

Comparison Table of Various Security Deposit Laws

Security Deposit Interest Rates security deposit return services

Attorney General Landlord Tenant Rights Pamphlet
Calculating Interest Due on Deposit
Security Deposit Recovery Services:
A bit about security deposits
Almost all landlords, except for those that collect nonrefundable damage fees, collect security deposits from their tenants to, among other things, guarantee the tenant's  performance of lease obligations and to repair or replace damage done to a unit by the tenant or the tenant's guests. 

Tenants commonly believe that a security deposit is an advance on rent.  It is not.  A security deposit cannot be lawfully used, without the consent of the landlord, to pay the last month's rent.  

In general, Illinois law does not require a security deposit, it does not set a maximum nor a minimum amount of desposit collectable by a landlord.  One exception to this general rule is Oak Park which requires a minimum of one month's rent as a security deposit.  The landlord and tenant are generally free to bargain this term as they wish.  Most security deposits range from one to two times the monthly rent.

While a landlord holds a security deposit, that deposit remains the property of the tenant.  Landlords should not spend the deposit and in some instances, landlords are required to deposit the security deposit into a segregated bank account.  For a discussion of the nature of a security deposit as property separate from the landlord, see the U.S. bankruptcy case In re Bertha McGee where the court determined that a security deposit held pursuant to the CRLTO falls within the Federal law's definition of an asset being held in a fiduciary capacity and thus not not reachable by a bankrupt landlord's debtors.

After a tenant vacates a property, the landlord should make any appropriate amd lawful deductions and then return the security deposit to the tenant.  Many time, landlords partially or totally fail in this duty.  In many instances, the law provides a remedy, beyond a suit for mere breach of contract, for tenants to obtain a refund of their deposit.  In many cases, these laws specify a procedure for security deposit deduction and time limits for security deposit return. Among the laws relating to security deposits, there are two main laws regulating security deposits on landlords: the Illinois Security Deposit Return Act and the Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance. (there are other ordinances in other municipalities in Illinois - you should check if your local municipality is governed by one).

so how do I get my deposit back?
Our firm offers tenants a service to attempt to obtain a return of some or all of the tenant's security deposit.  Generally, we begin by evaluating your case to determine if any statute or ordinance is applicable (a case that does not provide for penalties or attorneys fees may be a valid case that is not cost effective to engage an attorney to pursue) and if the landlord is collectible (again, there is little sense in pursuing a landlord who is on the verge of bankrupty).

In addition to reviewing the situation regarding the landlord's failure to return the security deposit, we also analyze the facts to determine if there are any other violations of law that can be added to a demand or lawsuit.

If we determine from the facts of a given situation that a tenant has a reasonable case and the tenant chooses to engage our services, after obtaining a signed engagement letter and small retainer, we generally begin the process by contacting the landlord in an effort to settle the matter and obtain a return of the deposit plus penalties and costs.  In the event that a settlement is not possible and the tenant wishes to proceed further, we prepare and file a summons and complaint and pursue the landlord through the courts.

Have an issue?
If you believe your landlord has violated the obligation to make a timely return of your deposit or to pay interest on your deposit, please feel free to telephone us at 773-399-1122 to see if we are a match to represent you. While we do not provide "legal advice" over the telephone, we do handle in-office consultations at a rate of $265 per hour, and we are always glad to spend some time (five to ten minutes) on the telephone to determine if you have a situation where we can help.

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