RLTO Section 5-12-080(a)(1) prohibits the “commingling” of security deposits with “assets” of Chicago Landlords. In other words, Chicago tenants’ security deposits shall “continue” to be the tenant’s property, and must be maintained in a separate, interest-bearing account (located in the State of Illinois). These are strict mandates; and are often times violated by Chicago landlords. How do you find out if your Landlord commingled your security deposit? Simply request the front and back bank images of your security deposit payment from your Bank (this information is sometimes easily located online and you can print the images). Is it really worth the effort though? Absolutely.
Chicago RLTO Section 5-12-080(c) mandates that Chicago Landlords pay security deposit interest annually; not in a lump sum at the end of one’s tenancy. If a Chicago Landlord fails to pay interest annually (or at all) a Chicago tenant shall be awarded damages equal to two (2) times the full security deposit (including refundable key, pet, and parking security deposits) plus all interest (no matter how small) plus all court costs and reasonable attorneys fees. As ridiculous as this may seem, the Illinois Supreme Court ‘s decision in Lawrence v. Regent Realty Group (2003) confirms that a Landlord need not acted “willfully” to be found liable to the tenant for two (2) the security deposit for failing to pay interest.
Many of us have experienced frustrations and unfairness in dealing with landlords and security deposits in our lifetimes. Amazingly, the Chicago RLTO uniquely balances the powers between tenant and landlord so that anticipated frustration is replaced by pure relief – or at least compliance with the law