Illinois Security Deposit Laws in 2024

Security deposits are a standard requirement for renting a home or apartment in Illinois. Landlords collect deposits from tenants to provide financial protection in case the tenant damages the unit or fails to pay rent. However, disputes often arise when tenants move out over deductions taken from deposits or deposits not returned on time. 

This guide provides an overview of Illinois security deposit laws that both renters and landlords should understand. Following these laws prevents misunderstandings and ensures a smooth move-out process. We'll cover key rules for security deposit limits, handling, interest, deductions, documentation, disputes, penalties and more. Understanding your rights and responsibilities is essential to getting your full deposit back as a tenant, or remaining compliant as a landlord. With clear guidelines, security deposits can serve their purpose without unnecessary conflicts.

Illinois Security Deposit Act 

The Illinois Security Deposit Act contains key provisions governing security deposits in the state. This law limits the maximum security deposit amount a landlord can collect to no more than 1.5 times the monthly rent. Landlords are required to provide receipts when collecting security deposits and must hold the funds in a separate account for the tenant's benefit. 

Under the law, security deposits can only be used for unpaid rent or damages beyond normal wear and tear. Landlords must return security deposits along with required interest within 45 days after a tenant moves out. Tenants must provide a forwarding address in writing to receive deposit refunds.

The Security Deposit Act prohibits landlords from making deductions for normal wear and tear. This includes minor issues like light scuff marks, worn carpeting, and faded paint. However, landlords can deduct for actual damages caused by the tenant or their guests like stains, holes in walls, broken fixtures, and pet damage exceeding normal wear.

To make deductions, landlords must provide an itemized statement with receipts explaining any amounts withheld within the 45 day timeframe. If deductions are taken in bad faith or deposits aren't returned on time, tenants can recover up to twice the amount wrongfully held plus attorneys fees.

Allowable Deductions 

Landlords in Illinois are permitted to deduct money from a tenant's security deposit for a limited number of reasons, including:

Damage Deductions

If a tenant damages the rental unit beyond normal wear and tear, the landlord can deduct the cost of repairing the damages from the security deposit. This includes damages such as:

  • Holes in the walls
  • Stained or damaged carpeting 
  • Broken appliances
  • Missing fixtures
  • Damaged countertops

The landlord must provide an itemized statement of damages along with estimates or invoices for the repair costs. Cosmetic issues like painting are not deductible.

Cleaning Fees 

Landlords can deduct cleaning fees if the tenant leaves the unit significantly dirtier than when they moved in. This means cleaning beyond normal maintenance like dusting, vacuuming and wiping surfaces. For example, deductions are allowed for:

  • Deep carpet cleaning to remove stains
  • Scrubbing dirt or grime from floors, walls or fixtures
  • Removal of trash or personal belongings

Unpaid Rent

If a tenant moves out owing rent, the landlord can use the security deposit to cover the unpaid amount. This includes rent from the last month of tenancy or other months when rent went unpaid.

The landlord cannot deduct for normal wear and tear or pre-existing conditions, only new damages caused by the tenant's actions. Tenants should thoroughly inspect and document any pre-existing conditions when moving in.

Prohibited Deductions

Landlords in Illinois cannot deduct for normal wear and tear or for pre-existing conditions when returning a tenant's security deposit. This includes minor issues like slight stains on the carpet, small nail holes in the wall from hanging pictures, chips or dents in paint from moving furniture, and worn kitchen finishes. Wear and tear is the expected decline in condition that occurs naturally over time even with standard maintenance and care.

Landlords also cannot charge for damages that existed when the tenant moved in, unless it was noted on the move-in inspection and the tenant agreed to pay. If the landlord failed to do a move-in inspection, they cannot deduct for any pre-existing damage. Tenants should thoroughly document the condition of the unit at move-in with dated photos and video to prevent disputes over pre-existing damage when moving out.

Some other deductions that are prohibited in Illinois include:

  • Routine cleaning and maintenance
  • Painting walls back to the original color 
  • Replacing worn carpets or appliances due to age
  • Pest control or bed bug treatments (unless caused by the tenant)
  • Repainting due to fading, chalking, or peeling over time
  • Yard maintenance and landscaping
  • Removing personal items or trash
  • Damage from reasonable use like scuffed walls

If a landlord makes any unauthorized deductions, the tenant has the right to recover up to twice the amount withheld plus attorneys fees.

Returning Deposits

Illinois landlords must return security deposits and provide an itemized statement of deductions within 30 days after the tenant vacates the unit. If any portion of the deposit is withheld, the landlord must provide a written list of damages and costs they are deducting along with receipts or invoices. 

The landlord must send the refund and itemized deductions to the tenant's last known address via first class or certified mail. If the landlord fails to provide the refund and statement within 30 days, they forfeit the right to keep any of the security deposit.

In addition, landlords in Illinois must pay interest on security deposits if the building contains 25 or more units. The interest rate is equal to the average passbook savings rate and must be paid within 30 days after the tenant moves out. If a landlord fails to pay interest as required, the tenant can recover twice the security deposit, plus court costs and attorneys fees.

The timeframe for returning deposits gives tenants enough time to review deductions and dispute any improper charges. Keeping receipts and taking move-in/move-out photos helps tenants ensure they receive their full deposit back. Overall, Illinois law provides strong protections for renters when it comes to getting security deposits refunded.

Disputes & Penalties

If a landlord improperly withholds all or part of a tenant's security deposit in Illinois, the tenant has the right to take legal action. Under the state's security deposit laws, a landlord is liable for the full amount of the security deposit, plus damages equal to twice the amount wrongfully withheld and court costs and attorneys fees.

For example, if a landlord illegally keeps $1,000 of a tenant's $1,500 deposit, the landlord would owe the tenant $3,500 - the $1,000 deposit kept, plus $2,000 in damages (2 times the $1,000 improperly withheld), plus any court costs and attorneys fees. 

Tenants have the right to sue landlords in small claims court without an attorney for security deposit disputes under $10,000 in Illinois. The time limit to file a lawsuit is 2 years from the date the landlord was required to return the deposit. 

If a landlord is found to have willfully and intentionally violated the security deposit law, they may face additional penalties of up to $100 per day for non-compliance. Landlords may also be subject to paying the renter's attorney fees related to resolving the dispute.

To avoid disputes, tenants should thoroughly inspect the property, document any damage, and submit a formal letter if they disagree with any deposit deductions. Communicating clearly with the landlord and following proper procedures can help ensure tenants get their full security deposit returned.

Move-Out Process

A smooth move-out process is key to getting your full security deposit back in Illinois. Here are some tips:


  • Take dated photos or video of the rental unit when you first move in and when you move out to document the condition.
  • Keep records of your rental payments and any correspondence with your landlord. 
  • Get receipts for any cleaning, repairs or repainting you do before moving out.
  • On move-out, do a walkthrough inspection with your landlord and agree on any damages or issues. Get them noted on the inspection report and get a copy.


  • Clean the rental thoroughly before the move-out inspection. 
  • Make any minor repairs needed like holes in walls, scratched surfaces, etc. 
  • Check the lease for any cleaning requirements and fulfill them.
  • Leave the unit in the same condition as when you moved in, minus normal wear and tear.


  • Let the landlord know your move-out date in writing well in advance.
  • Schedule the move-out inspection for your last day if possible. 
  • Notify the landlord of any damages that occurred and repairs you will make.
  • Provide your forwarding address for return of deposits.
  • Follow up if you don't receive your deposit or an itemized deduction list within the required timeframe.

Following these tips will help ensure you get your full security deposit back under Illinois law.

Breaking a Lease 

Breaking a lease in Illinois can impact your security deposit and lead to other consequences. Here's what tenants need to know:

Deposit Impact

  • If you break your lease, the landlord can withhold your security deposit to cover any unpaid rent or damages. This applies even if you properly notify the landlord in writing per your lease terms.
  • The landlord can also deduct advertising costs to re-rent your unit and any other costs incurred related to re-renting. These deductions must be itemized and documented.
  • If you break your lease illegally without proper notice, the landlord can deduct a "reasonable amount" for the hassle this causes. There are no hard limits on this deduction.

Landlord Remedies

  • The landlord can sue a tenant for breaking a lease. Damages could cover the entire remaining rent owed per the lease term. 
  • The landlord must make reasonable efforts to re-rent your unit to mitigate damages. Rent from a new tenant would reduce how much you owe.
  • The landlord can report lease violations to tenant screening agencies, impacting your rental history and ability to rent in the future.
  • If you break your lease due to an unsafe condition, military deployment, domestic violence, or other legally valid reason, you may have protections against penalties.

The best approach is to carefully review your lease and speak with your landlord before breaking it. There may be options like subletting, early termination, or lease takeovers to avoid penalties.

Security Deposit Alternatives

Renters who don't want to pay a traditional cash security deposit have alternatives in Illinois. Two popular options are:

Surety Bonds 

With a surety bond, the tenant pays a nonrefundable fee to a bonding company, which then covers the landlord for financial damages up to the bond amount. This protects the landlord without the tenant having to pay a deposit. The tenant simply pays the bond company's monthly or annual premiums.

Surety bonds cost around 10% of the bond amount. For example, a $1,000 bond would have a $100 annual premium. This can be cheaper than a cash deposit, and the tenant gets their money back if there are no claims. Landlords must accept surety bonds in Illinois.

Rental Deposit Insurance

Rental deposit insurance offers similar protection as a surety bond. The tenant purchases a policy that reimburses the landlord for damages. Premiums often start around $5 per month.

Like bonds, deposit insurance lets renters avoid large upfront deposits. The insurance company handles paying claims directly to the landlord. However, landlords aren't required to accept deposit insurance in Illinois.

Key Takeaways


  • In Illinois, security deposits are capped at no more than 2 months' rent for unfurnished units and 3 months' rent for furnished units.  
  • Landlords must return security deposits within 45 days after the lease ends.
  • Allowable deductions include unpaid rent, late fees, and damage beyond normal wear and tear. Tenants must be given itemized statements.
  • Interest must be paid on security deposits held over 6 months at a variable rate tied to the average yield on 6-month Treasury bills.  
  • Tenants can sue for 2x the deposit plus court costs if deposits aren't returned properly. Landlords face additional penalties.
  • Tenants should thoroughly document the condition of units at move-in and move-out to dispute improper deductions.
  • Landlords should properly maintain documentation, communicate with tenants, and stay up-to-date on the latest laws.

Tips for Tenants

  • Take dated photos and videos when you move in and when you move out to document the condition of the unit.
  • Review your lease and keep records of all payments and communications with your landlord.  
  • Do a walkthrough inspection with your landlord when moving out and agree on any damages.
  • Provide your landlord with a forwarding address in writing when you move out to ensure you get your deposit back. 
  • Dispute any improper deductions in writing within 45 days and be prepared to sue in small claims court if needed.

Tips for Landlords

  • Maintain thorough move-in and move-out inspection reports, including photos, videos, and signed tenant acknowledgment.
  • Communicate clearly and regularly with tenants about damages, repairs, and deposit deductions.
  • Familiarize yourself fully with Illinois security deposit laws and stay up-to-date on changes.
  • Return deposits within 45 days of lease termination with an itemized statement of deductions.
  • Only make deductions for unpaid rent and damages beyond normal wear and tear.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does a landlord have to return the deposit in Illinois?

In Illinois, landlords have 30 to 45 days to return the security deposit, depending on whether deductions are made. If deductions are taken for damages, the landlord must provide an itemized statement of these deductions within 30 days of the tenant moving out, and return the remaining deposit within 45 days.

Can a landlord deduct cleaning from the security deposit in Illinois?

Yes, a landlord in Illinois can deduct cleaning costs from the security deposit if the cleaning is necessary to return the property to the same level of cleanliness as when the tenant moved in, beyond what is considered normal wear and tear.

What is considered normal wear and tear in Illinois?

Normal wear and tear in Illinois refers to the natural and gradual deterioration of the property that occurs from normal use over time. This includes minor scuffs on walls, carpet wear from walking, and faded paint. It does not cover extensive damage, like holes in the walls or stains on the carpet from spills.

What is the new security deposit law in Illinois?

As of the latest updates, there has been no major statewide change to the security deposit laws in Illinois that differs significantly from the existing regulations under the Illinois Security Deposit Return Act and the Security Deposit Interest Act. It's always a good idea to check the latest state legislation or local ordinances as they can periodically change.

What happens if a landlord does not return the security deposit within 30 days in Illinois?

If a landlord fails to return the security deposit or provide an itemized list of deductions within the required time frames (30 days for the itemized list, 45 days for the return of the deposit and any remaining funds), the tenant may be entitled to twice the security deposit amount, plus court costs and attorney's fees.

How long after you move out can a landlord charge you for damages in Illinois?

In Illinois, a landlord must provide an itemized statement of damages within 30 days of the tenant moving out if they intend to withhold any part of the security deposit for damages. The actual deductions must be reasonable and the landlord needs to return the remainder of the deposit within 45 days after the tenant has moved out.

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