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Damage to My Rental Property. What Can I Do?

Updated on
March 1, 2021
Article written by
Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty

In this article we will be examining What Can I Do If a Tenant Has Damaged My Rental Property and we answer the questions of:

  • Does the Lease Determine Who Is Responsible for Damages?
  • What Happens If There Is Not a Lease?
  • My Tenant Never Did A Final Walkthrough with Me, Does It Matter?
  • What Damages Are the Tenants Responsible For?
  • What Is Considered Normal “Wear and Tear”?
  • Can I Apply the Tenant’s Security Deposit Towards Damage Repairs?
  • Do I Need to Detail the Repair Costs to the Tenant When I Use the Security Deposit?
  • What Can I Do If the Damage Repairs Cost More Than the Security Deposit Covered?

Managing a rental property can be a stressful experience. That experience can be made significantly worse when you have rented to a bad tenant. In damages, destroys, or removes property from the rental unit, a landlord must take swift and well detailed actions if they plan on having the tenant held responsible for their actions.

Does the Lease Determine Who Is Responsible for Damages?

A lease can define or expand the responsibilities of the tenant to maintain the property. When there is a lease agreement, that document creates the general rules and regulations for both the landlord and tenant. If the lease contains provisions related to damages and repairs (and those provisions do not violate the municipal statutes), the lease will control who should be responsible for the repairs to any damages.

What Happens If There Is Not a Lease?

In Illinois, especially within Chicago, the Landlord-Tenant relationship is highly regulated. The statutory provisions provided by the State of Illinois will control any claims related to damages and repairs.

My Tenant Never Did A Final Walkthrough with Me, Does It Matter?

Not really. A final walkthrough provides the Landlord and Tenant the opportunity to review the condition of the property and note any defects at that time. It could help to clarify if a tenant had knowledge and acknowledged claimed damages at the time of a move out but is not necessary.

What Damages Are the Tenants Responsible For?

A tenant is generally responsible for any unforeseen or unexpected damage to the property. A tenant is not responsible for normal wear and tear on the rental property.

What Is Considered Normal “Wear and Tear”?

Normal wear and tear is the anticipated depreciation of the property and included amenities over time. For example, if the unit includes a stovetop, it can be anticipated that burners may go out over time due to use. That is something that happens with that type of appliance and is not the tenant’s fault. Essentially, if it can be expected that through normal use some damage or wear or loss of value is going to occur, that is probably not the tenant’s responsibility to repair.

Can I Apply the Tenant’s Security Deposit Towards Damage Repairs?

Yes, a landlord can apply security deposit funds toward appropriate damage repairs. Illinois is very strict related to the application of security deposit funds towards any expense related to the property. If it is your intention to use security deposit funds to cover expenses and not return them to the tenant, please review our article on the Security Deposit Act for more information before taking that action. Chicago Security Deposit Laws Explained (oflaherty-law.com)

Do I Need to Detail the Repair Costs to the Tenant When I Use the Security Deposit?

Yes, Illinois requires that a landlord either returns the security deposit to the tenant or provide a detailed list of expenses to the tenant for the amounts removed from the deposit within 30 days of the tenant moving out of the building. Again, please reference the article above to learn more about the rules and regulations related to the Security Deposit Act in Illinois.

What if the Tenant Contests the Repairs or the Cost of the Repair?

When you send the itemized invoice to the tenant detailing the expense of the repairs and any supporting documentation, your obligation to the tenant has ended. If the tenant disagrees with your itemization or the expenses detailed, they have the right to pursue the matter in the appropriate court.  

What Can I Do If the Damage Repairs Cost More Than the Security Deposit Covered?

In an instance where the extraordinary damages to the apartment exceed the security deposit, you can seek damages in the local municipal court. To seek these damages, you will be responsible for demonstrating all necessary evidence to succeed in a municipal claims action. 

 


Damage to My Rental Property. What Can I Do?
Author

Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty

Kevin O’Flaherty is a graduate of the University of Iowa and Chicago-Kent College of Law. He has experience in litigation, estate planning, bankruptcy, real estate, and comprehensive business representation.

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