Landlord used city lease form for suburban rental, is he bound by RLTO?
September 16, 2013 12:46 PM   Subscribe

We rented a house in Skokie, and the landlord used an office-supply-store-pre-printed lease form for the city. It included a copy of the Chicago RLTO as part of the form. Understanding that YANML, does this incorporate the requirements of the RLTO into the terms of the lease? If so, he'd be required to submit receipts meet deadlines for the return of the deposit. Or is he only bound by State Law (which for a single-family home, seems to require bupkus). He only returned half of our security deposit. Is it worth fighting for the other half ($600)? If I accept and deposit the $600 he sent, am I hurting my chances of getting the rest?

We rented a single-family home a bit over a year ago. The landlord notified us that he didn't intend to renew the lease because he wanted to sell the property. We attempted to buy the property, but due to bank errors were unable to secure financing before the mortgage contingency date. The next day, he gave us 30 days notice. (Despite our lawyer's interpretation that our lease remained month-to-month so we should've had till the 31st of August to vacate, we agreed to 30 days from the notice or August 16th to vacate.) On August 17th, a representative of the owner came and did a walk through with us and didn't mention any issues with the condition. We (stupidly) didn't get anything signed at this point. Tuesday of last week, the owner sent us a message telling us that the house smelled of cat urine and he was going to have to replace the carpet and had "already spent $300" trying to clean the carpet. At no point did our cat pee on the carpet, and we steam cleaned the carpet before we left. We believe that he is trying to use our money to improve the house for sale. (He does things on the super-cheap regularly and a friend who still lives on the block noticed scraps from cheap wood laminate flooring in the alley by the garbage cans. The house had carpet and crappy vinyl flooring when we were in it.)
posted by Morydd to Law & Government (5 answers total)
IANYL - I am not a lawyer licenced in the US at all, let alone Chicago/Illinois.

My read on the Chicago ordinance is that it doesn't matter that it included the RLTO, but rather as long as it's not excluded by section 5-12-020, it's governed by the RLTO. None of those seem to apply. So it should be covered, which would make sense (my understanding is that city ordinance/by-law tenancy things aren't opt-in, because they wouldn't be worth the paper they're drafted on).

As for the rest - it's your call as to whether it's worth fighting for the second half. At the very least, if you keep the $600 you did get, you should write him a message saying that you want the rest of the money, not just what you were given - that way there's no question of whether you waived the rest. Obviously keep your own copies.

I will let other people chime in with how the fight to get deposits back actually goes in Chicago, that varies and my brain is going to be stuck in Ontario-mode.
posted by Lemurrhea at 1:28 PM on September 16, 2013

Lemurrhea: My read on the Chicago ordinance is that it doesn't matter that it included the RLTO, but rather as long as it's not excluded by section 5-12-020, it's governed by the RLTO.

The problem, as I understand it, is that the house in question is not actually in Chicago, and that is where the confusion lies. Morydd, does the Lease Agreement itself refer to the RLTO being incorporated into the document, or is it just included as supplementary material?
posted by Rock Steady at 1:55 PM on September 16, 2013

Aww geez, yeah. Thank you Rock Steady. Ignore my comment on that issue, I glazed over Skokie.

Yeah, unless the lease itself specifically comments about how the RLTO is to govern, or be applicable, or is incorporated, it won't apply. You could possibly make an argument that it would apply by virtue of being on the pre-printed forms...but I personally wouldn't buy it, and I advocate for tenants in my day job.

if it wasn't pre-printed on the forms, I think you'd have a stronger case there.
posted by Lemurrhea at 3:03 PM on September 16, 2013

ILAO will give you much better answers than will. Skokie's in Cook, right? Try CARPLS if ILAO doesn't have an answer.

It's most likely that the landlord just included the Chicago RLTO because the Chicago RLTO requires that a copy be given with the executed lease in the City of Chicago and the Landlord is in the habit of giving it out or doesn't know better. It's unlikely that either of you intended to be bound by the Chicago RLTO, but I can't really speak to that and the question of whether it's worth it pursue a small claim is perennial.
posted by crush-onastick at 5:37 PM on September 16, 2013

Response by poster: I'll have to double check the wording to see if the lease refers to the attached copy of the RLTO. If the RLTO applies, it's because of the lease. Skokie has no municipal rental ordinance and the Illinois one only seems to apply to properties with 5 or more units.

Nothing I've found seems to indicate that the owner has any obligation to even return the deposit under state law.
posted by Morydd at 7:31 PM on September 16, 2013

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