An August, 2015 Illinois Appellate Court decision has confirmed that a Chicago tenant who successfully prosecutes a counterclaim in an eviction action for damages under Chicago’s Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance (RLTO) is entitled to an award for the tenant’s attorney fees. The First District Appellate court in Shadid v Sims rejected the landlord’s argument that RLTO only provides for an award of attorney fees where a tenant prevails in a separate action initiated by the plaintiff.
In the Shadid case, the plaintiff landlord had filed what the court characterized as a “garden-variety eviction lawsuit” for non-payment of rent. The tenants counterclaimed alleging various violations of RLTO. After a bench trial, the lower court ruled that the tenant had met their burden of proving a RLTO violation and that they were entitled to a full offset of the rent then owed. The Court then granted the tenants the right to file a Petition for Attorney Fees, which they did, seeking $9,878. The landlord argued that the tenants were not entitled to attorney fees because they were not the plaintiffs; rather they were defendants and counter plaintiffs. The trial court agreed and dismissed the Petition for Attorney Fees. The appellate court reversed the trial court decision and remanded the case to the trial court with instructions to grant the Petition and award the tenants reasonable attorney fees under RLTO.
Feel free to contact an experienced Illinois landlord eviction law attorney at Logan Law, LLC if you have questions about how to properly serve eviction notices or any other area of the laws governing landlords and tenants.
The Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance (“RLTO”) contains a series of rules governing the acceptance of security landlords by Chicago landlords. These rules are being strictly enforced by the Courts and are leading many Chicago landlords to discontinue the practice of requiring security deposits from their tenants. Instead, many are now requiring non-refundable “move in” fees.
A recent appellate court decision shows why security deposits are on their way out. In its 2015 decision in Faison v RTFX, the Illinois Appellate Court has now held that the failure to provide a proper receipt for a $10.00 increase in a tenant’s security deposit gave rise to a requirement that the landlord return the entire $600.00 security deposit plus pay a $1,200.00 penalty plus the tenant’s attorney fees. The facts in Faison were that a landlord and tenant entered into a lease in April, 2007, which provided for a security deposit of $590.00. After the initial lease expired, the tenant continued on a month to month basis. The landlord increased the month to month rent from $590.00 to $600.00 in May, 2008 and collected an additional $10.00 security deposit, for which no receipt in the form required by RLTO was given. This happened again in May, 2009. The court held that claims regarding the May, 2008 $10.00 payment were barred by the statute of limitations but ruled that the May, 2009 $10.00 payment was not so barred.
Feel free to contact an experienced Illinois landlord attorney at Logan Law, LLC if you have questions about the handling of security deposits for properties subject to RLTO or any other area of the laws governing landlords and tenants.