My previous landlord never returned my security deposit ($1,650) last autumn. I live in Chicago. Do I get an attorney (and if so how do I choose one) or do I take it to small claims court myself? What are the pros/cons of either approach?
I have read this question
already, and while that was helpful, I am wondering if anyone has any additional recommendations.
First off, I am pretty well documented. I was a tenant there for 2 years, and have copies of the deposit receipt & cleared checks. I have copies of my original lease termination letter and the demand of payment letter I sent via registered mail after 60 days. This guy was an incredibly MIA landlord (several days before repairing heater in 10° Chicago winter, incommunicado for a week after the gas co. shut off my line due to a leak, etc.)... so none of this is shocking. Other tenants had similar complaints, but to my knowledge, people rarely took him to task.
After reading up on Chicago tenant law I've seen that I am potentially owed interest and/or twice the amount of the original deposit.
Does getting an attorney increase the likelihood of getting the interest payment or does the cost of the attorney generally cancel that out? Am I better off to do small claims? (I have heard mixed things about Illinois Tenants Union, and that you pay a sizable membership fee to join before using their services.)
Thanks for any suggestions!