Legal Question in Real Estate Law in Illinois

Hi Everyone I have a couple questions and hopefully an attorney or someone who reads this could help me.

So I rented a condo in downtown Chicago directly from the owner of the condo. We rented the condo starting on September 1st 2011 and the lease expired on August 20th 2013. We rented for a two year lease. The first year we paid $2000 a year, the second year we paid $2100 a year. Our security deposit was $2000. So this past June, my wife and I got married. Our landlord contacted us around that time and asked us if we planned on renewing and we said as far as we know we plan on staying unless anything changes. After we got back from our honeymoon we were out around my parents house and we found a house we liked so we decided to put an offer in but ended up losing the offer. Then about a month before the lease ended (end of July) we told the landlord that we were looking for house and asked if we could do a month to month lease in case we found something. He told us he did not want to be stuck with an empty place since the winter months were coming up and it would be harder to rent so he would maybe do April or May but that is the soonest. We left it at that, and the landlord said he would have to draw up a new lease and get it to us to sign. We waited for 3 weeks and never heard back from him on the new lease. It actually was the beginning of September so our lease was already up but we still haven't received the new lease yet so we continued on the same terms as a month to month. Then around the middle of September a foreclosure came on the market in the same area we were originally looking, we saw the house on Monday, put offer in on Tuesday, and offer acccepted on Thursday. At this point we called the landlord and let him know we just got our offer accepted on a house we found. It was around the September 25th. We told him we would pay October rent and stay through the month of October. Since we had no lease and were going month to month I figured 35 days was enough notice. At this point he asked if it was okay if he immediately started showing the unit? We agreed and let him show the unit in the morning, late at night (sometimes as late as 9:30pm), days we weren't there, we would even leave while he had people there. He raised the rent to $2,350 for the new tenant when we were only paying $2,100 a month. Basically he priced himself too high, so when he saw he wasn't getting any showing he lowered the rent first to $2,300, then to $2,150. He showed a few more times but still couldn't get it rented for the month of November. So we moved out on October 29th. He was suppose to meet us to do a walk through that day but he was unavailable in meetings so we said we could meet in a few days. The movers came basically moved everything but we didn't have enough room in the truck to get everything so I had to rent a truck and go back the next day. But the day the mover's were there we told them once the truck was packed they could start heading to our new house, we were still gathering up some last minute things and would meet them there. As we were leaving 10 minutes later, we saw the landlord showing up in the lobby unannounced to us (he never said he was coming) we told him we still have some things to move. After we left he took it upon himself to let himself in the unit and he walked through the place on his own. He texted my wife later and said the only thing he found wrong were some the holes where we used to have two shelves hung in our walk in closet. Basically, we had a shelf there and took it with us, I bought some spackle and paint but you could still see where I filled it in holes. So I told him when we meet up to do a walk through I'll look and throw him some money to fix it or fix it myself whatever he preferred.

Anyway, I got busy with the new house and a few weeks went by then this past Sunday I sent him an email and it took him until yesterday to call me back about my email. Basically I wanted to see when he wanted to meet up so I could give back our garage door opener and keys and for him to give us back our security deposit. He called me last night we spoke and at first the conversation was friendly, asked him if he rented it, he said no he didn't I told him someone will come around, and some friendly chatter. So then I asked him about our security deposit and return of key/garage door. And basically he started blaming us for not giving him enough notice that we were moving and that is why he can't rent the unit and it was all our fault. I told him we gave him 35 days and we also told him that we told him in August we were looking for places and if we found something we would be moving and that is why he initially wanted us to sign a new lease but he never sent it to us because he got busy. I also told him that if he had given us the new lease to sign we would be the ones out for the money or having to find a sub-leaser but he never sent us the new lease. He thought that it would be "FAIR" and i say that in quotes for him to keep the security deposit since he can't rent the place. I told him what is fair about that? This was his place and not ours, we weren't investors or anything. And that I disagreed with him so basically telling him I wasn't going to give him the $2000 security just because he couldn't rent it out. Then he said the initial damage was much worse than what we first spoke and that he had "the guy that does repairs for the building come look at the place" and he said it would be $1600 to fix everything. So I questioned him and asked how would $1600 to repair holes in a closet. And then he started saying well there were anchor holes from pictures (which were from the previous tenant before me). I told him I had 1 mirror in the bedroom hung with an anchor, no pictures hung in guest room or office. And in the living room only had two pictures hung on each side of the china cabinet so that was like 6 holes. So how would it be $1600? Then he started saying the walls had scratches and dark marks? (basic normal wear and tear from furniture) and he would have to repaint everything to match, even though when we moved in there was someone before us and it wasn't painted fresh. Finally he said a cleaning service would charge $200 to clean the place. And I told him my wife cleaned everything before we left, she vacummed (even though all hardwood floors), cleaned toilets, counters, sink. Basically he wanted it to sparkle and not broom clean like the lease states. So I stated to him if he had the place rented he wouldn't be so picky to us and he even admitted that was the reason. He said it more had to do with us not giving him 60 days to rent it even though no where in our lease or the city of Chicago renters guide does it say we have to give 60 days notice. He is just very pissed about the situation and it looks like he won't have it rented for December either so far.

My question is how do I go about getting my security deposit back from him?

Am I going to have to sue him?

I even told him I am willing to give him a couple hundred dollars to fill and paint the holes we caused but that isn't enough for him. Since he feels the whole places needs to be repainted to match the 8 holes he needs to fill in.

Some Facts:

We never received a receipt for our security deposit on which bank he deposited it to and we gave it to him over two years ago. I have a feeling he just put it in his regular bank account and that is why he didn't send us a confirmation. The only place that states our security deposit in our lease is 1 line that says we gave a $2,000 security deposit. There was a receipt with our lease but he never filled it out or signed it.

Also, the final two months we lived there we didn't even have a lease. Our lease expired on 8/30/2013 and we stayed until 10/31/2013 (actually moved on 10/29 but still had two more day)

Please let me know what I need to do to get this resolved? He is very hard headed and doesn't like to lose money.


Asked on 11/14/13, 10:20 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

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We are not set up to handle complicated situations, so I dropped down to the end for your question.

1. Your lease expired on its own terms, and unless there was some other agreement or the landlord exercised another option in the lease, it went month-to-month.

2. A summary of the Chicago Residential Landlord & Tenant Ordinance (RLTO) should have been attached to your lease. Failure to attach can be a $150 penalty on its own.

3. If your landlord only owned the one unit, the RLTO applies.

4. Your security deposit must be in an identified account that bears interest ANNUALLY. On a 2-year lease you should have been paid or credited 1st yr's interest at the end of the 1st year. While interest is negligible (there is an annual schedule), landlord's violation can result in a 2x deposit PENALTY, plus interest, plus deposit.

5. Under the RLTO a landlord must give a tenant at least 30 days notice of non-renewal prior to the expiration date, and if less time remains the tenant can stay 60 days extra at the old rate. The tenant is NOT required to give the landlord ANY notice of non-renewal. The landlord can start showing the apartment 60 days prior to the expiration date.

6. As soon as you went month-to-month, you have to give AT LEAST 30 days' notice. "35" may NOT be good enough -- it must be AT LEAST 30 days prior to the NEXT rental payment date. So FOR EXAMPLE if rent is payable on the 1st and you don't give notice until tomorrow 11/15, the termination is NOT effective until 1/1 and you would still owe December rent.

7. In a month-to-month situation, notice of non-renewal is irrelevant. But if the landlord wants to RAISE the rent the same process as in #6 above is required.

8. In a month-to-month situation the landlord can set a new rent for a new lease with a new tenant at any time. This is of NO consequence to the current tenant.

9. Security Deposit: If the intended withhold is unreasonable, unfortunately you may have to sue unless you also breach the lease by withholding rent during your final occupancy period; we can NOT advocate breaching the lease.

10. The RLTO requires the landlord to follow strict guidelines on return of security and if it is NOT met there can be NO deduction, and may also result in a penalty.

11. YOU DID agree, verbally, to a renewal through next April, which the landlord did not document. If you were to confirm that, a verbal agreement for less than a year CAN BE ORAL and you could be liable at least through that period.

12. Your landlord can NOT hold you responsible for rent beyond your occupancy period as long as the occupancy period was terminated properly.

These are not answers; they are surmises based on the information given, and with additional information (believe it or not) these surmises could change.

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11/14/13, 10:47 am

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