Keys not a Key Factor in Security Deposit Disputes


When moving out of a rental property in the Chicago and Evanston areas, it pays to understand your rights as a tenant, especially when it comes to recovering a security deposit. Landlords have to act within strict ordinances to ensure fair and proper treatment of tenants, and that includes returning a security deposit in full within 21 days of the tenant moving out. If part of the deposit is being withheld for any reason, the landlord must provide a detailed statement of those expenses. This is just one component of the rules about breaking a lease in chicago.

Although most landlords strive to deal ethically with all tenants, there are those that try to get away with as much money as possible. In one particular case, a landlord attempted to withhold a $2,500 security deposit because the tenant did not return keys in a timely fashion. The landlord made the case that the tenant kept the keys for seven days, providing her access to the premises. She could then be considered a hold-over tenant, so he was justified in expecting payment of another month’s rent.

In this particular case, an appellate court deemed that keys were not a sufficient factor in holding the security deposit. In fact, in many instances, the failure to move out for a few extra days does not result in payment of another month’s rent. At the very least, tenants may be required to pay prorated rent to cover those few days.

When deposits are over a few hundred dollars, it may be worth hiring a security deposit lawyer to help recover funds. Look for an attorney that has experience with the ins and outs of Chicago rental law and has a proven track record of winning cases against landlords. Claiming an entire month’s rent when tenants are slow to move out was a historic trend among landlords in the area. It is possible that a property owner does not realize ordinances have changed. In some cases, a simple letter from an attorney may solve the issue.

Mark Silverman is an attorney with years of rental law experience. He and his bilingual staff can help solve a variety of rental contract issues and are ready to answer questions today.