Security Deposit Law





     In this case the the tenant rented a condo unit in Evanston until May 31, 2008.  Tenant gave a $1,400 security deposit and paid $1,500 rent. 

     In the last four months of the rental, the landlord had his real estate agents showing Tenant's unit to prospective buyers about once a week.  The agents rarely gave at least two days' advance notice of their intent to enter.  This was fortunately documented by email:

Evanston Landlord's real estate agent's request for unlawful entry

     Tenant alleged there was an unlawful entry and that, also, there were repeated requests for entry that had the effect of harassing her.  She sought two months rent ($3,000) for this.  Under section 5-3-4-3 of the Evanston Residential Landlord & Tenant Ordinance (ERLTO),

  "Except in cases of emergency, or unless it is impracticable to do so, the landlord shall give the tenant at least two (2) days' notice of his intent to enter."

      Under ERLTO 5-3-8-2(B),

  "If the landlord makes an unlawful entry or a lawful entry in an unreasonable manner or makes repeated demands for entry otherwise lawful, but which have the effect of harassing the tenant ... the tenant may recover an amount equal to not more than two (2) months' rent"

      Tenant also alleged that Landlord's accounting for her deposit on June 24 violated the ERLTO 5-3-5-1(C) requirement that deposits be accounted for within 21 days after move-out.  The trial court found that Tenant's return of the keys on June 3 after her May move-out did not toll the running of the 21 days.  Tenant sought return of her whole deposit ($1,400) plus two times the whole wrongfully withheld deposit ($2,400).

      Finally, Tenant sought the $200 penalty associated with Landlord's failure to attach a copy of the complete ERLTO to her 2007 lease, as is required by ERLTO 5-3-5-10.

     At trial the Tenant was awarded all her damages sought plus court costs and attorney fees. 

     And Landlord's $3,000 counterclaim was denied.


Q.  Do you believe that those requests to show the unit in the aggregate had the effect of harassing you?  A.  Absolutely.  Q.  Did you ever communicate that to Joe?  A.  I did, on several occasions.  Q.  Did you communicate that to the brokers and real estate agents who he had showing the unit?  A.  I did.  Q.  Have you gotten any of your money back from your security deposit?  A.  I have not.

* * *

THE COURT:  Having had a chance to consider the testimony of the witnesses, review the evidence, my understanding is that the plaintiff vacated the unit on May 29th, the term ended May 31st, and the parties agreed to a walk-through on June 3rd.  The security deposit was not returned within the 21 days.  Additionally there's been no testimony that there was any interest paid on the security deposit.  So in Count I will be the judgment in favor of the plaintiff for $1,447.46.  Count II, the security deposit was not returned.  There will be a judgment for $2,800 on that.  Count III, there was no testimony by the defendant that he had given the plaintiff the Evanston Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance, be $200 on that.  And on Count IC, there's been no testimony that the plaintiff gave permission to enter the unit without the 48 hours' notice and, in fact, waived that notice.  There's been no testimony that she waived that notice.  There will be a judgment for $3,000 on that.  I've got a total of $7,447.46.  What are you going to do about the attorney fees?  Oh, and the counterclaim will be denied in whole.

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