Security Deposit Law

 DEPOSIT RETURN EXAMPLES  

     Tenant rented an apartment in a five-unit Chicago building for a year.  She gave a $900 security deposit and moved out at the end of the lease.  She owed $140 for rent when she left, which she acknowledged could be withheld from her security deposit. 

     After move-out the Landlord never paid interest and also kept all of the security deposit.  The Landlord kept the deposit for repairs, cleaning, and replacements. 

     After two lawyers attempted to recover Tenant's security deposit we had to finally go to trial.  We sought damages under RLTO 5-12-080(c)&(f) for nonpayment of interest, and also under the Illinois Security Deposit Return Act ("Return Act").  Even though the RLTO does not allow "stacking" of penalty damages for multiple security deposit violations, we guessed that the penalty damages under the Return Act might be stacked on top of RLTO penalty damages.

      At trial Landlord said he mailed a written itemized statement of damages within 30 days after Tenant moved out.  However, the Landlord admitted he never sent the Tenant copies of paid receipts from the alleged repairs and replacements.  The Landlord explained that the receipts he had would have offered no  additional information to Tenant than the written statement he already sent. 

      The trial court found that the Landlord's failure to send the copies of paid receipts was not in bad faith, so that no penalty damages under the Return Act were awardable.  Penalty damages under RLTO 5-12-080(c)&(f) were awarded, plus return of $600 withheld from the security deposit, plus $100 for failure to attach a summary of the RLTO to the lease (under RLTO 5-12-170).

     The Landlord appealed this ruling.  Knowing we'd be waiting another 10 months to close the case anyways, we appealed too. 

     The court of appeals denied the Landlord's appeal (claiming the building had only had 4 units, and was owner occupied).  The appellate order also modified the trial court's award, adding $600 in penalty damages under the Return Act, representing the un-awarded half of "twice the amount of the security deposit due" plus costs and attorney fees under the Return Act.

     The order from the appellate court is unpublished pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 23, and so is not precedent.  But it is still interesting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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