Tenant Security Deposit Law: Your Rights and Responsibilities in Chicago

What is a Security Deposit?

A security deposit is money given to the landlord of the home or property as proof of intent to move in. Security can be refundable or nonrefundable; it depends upon the terms and conditions of the transaction.

The sole purpose of this article is to make you aware of the security deposit definition and the rights and responsibilities of a tenant in Chicago so that you know how to defend yourself in case you are in trouble.

Tenant Deposit Rights

There can be a few aspects of rental management that appear more straightforward than collecting the security deposit.

As the tenant, when you sign up for any rental agreement, you have few rights which apply regardless of where you live.

These rights include:

  • The right to live in a property that is safe, secure, and not in the condition of disrepair.
  • Right to collect information about the landlord.
  • Right to challenge excessively high rental fees.
  • The right to live in the rental property is undisturbed.
  • Right to get protection from unfair rent and eviction.

It depends upon the property you live in; other rental laws can also be applied.

What documents must a landlord give a new tenant while moving in?

There are equal responsibilities on the landlord as a tenant. Here are some points a landlord needs to consider when a new tenant moves into the property.

  • Details of the deposit protection scheme

Chicago RTLO security deposit scheme is the safest method of reserving the tenant’s deposit, protecting all parties in a dispute. This is a legal requirement that all financial deposits be entered into a deposit protection scheme, and the tenants must be given a track record of the transaction.

Tenants can have their deposits returned, provided they meet all the terms and conditions of the tenancy agreement.

  • Gas safety record form

Gas safety is the proof that the gas appliances in the property are completely safe for the residents, and that is required if there is a gas supply to the property, even if gas appliances are not used.

  • Electrical inspection document

The landlord needs to have the electrical fittings in the property, which must be tested and inspected for safety every five years at a minimum.

A copy of the electrical inspection document must be provided to the new tenant before they move into the property.

  • Tenancy agreement

The final and most important document the landlord needs to provide is a copy of the tenancy agreement. The contents of the tenancy agreement can vary, but they can not give either party less than statutory rights. The documents must be signed by both parties and must always include the following:

  • Address of the property
  • Full name and contact details of the landlord
  • Name and contact details of the tenant
  • The tenancy date begins, the tenancy duration, and the end date.
  • Cost of the rent, when that needs to be paid
  • The notice period that either party needs to give by the end of the tenancy.

Tenant security deposit limits

A security deposit is intended to reimburse the landlord in the event of damage or loss to the property, such as non-payment of the rent. The amount is decided by state law and varies widely across the country.

In some states, the security deposit is split into many tiers. For instance, some states set the tenant security deposit limit at two months’ rent for unfurnished properties or three months if the rental is completely furnished.

How does a tenant recover a security deposit after moving out?

In many states, a landlord must return a security deposit within 14 days from the end of the tenancy. Apart from that, if any deductions have been made from the security deposit, the landlord should include the itemized list explaining the reason behind every deduction made from your security deposit.

You must remember that you should have a legitimate reason to withhold all or part of the security deposit. If your landlord wrongfully withholds the security deposit, they will be liable if the tenant pursues any legal action in a court of law.


Security deposit laws can vary from one state to another, even by the municipality, so if you have any specific questions regarding the rental or about the laws in the state, then reach out to Security Deposit Law for affordable legal consultation.



Aaron Krolik Law Office works with tenants and landlords every step of the way to make sure they understand and are comfortable with the process.


Aaron Krolik Law Office works with tenants and landlords every step of the way to make sure they understand and are comfortable with the process.