Landlord-Tenant Relations | Chicago Litigation Attorneys

Litigation Attorneys Advise Landlords To Document Damages

landlord-documenting-damagesOur litigation lawyers in Chicago have received many calls from landlords who have found themselves on the receiving end of a lawsuit from former tenants trying to get their security deposit back after damaging the property. This has been the case even in situations where the landlord had significant property damage to repair before the unit could be rented again. How can landlords protect themselves from these unsubstantiated lawsuits?

The answer: Documentation.

Document Damages To Protect Yourself

Chicago litigation attorneys agree that the best way to protect yourself from lawsuits demanding the return of the security deposit after the tenant has caused damage to the property is to document everything. You want to have concrete evidence of the damages in their original state so you can provide proof that the security deposit was needed to repair the damage.

Your Documentation Checklist

  1. If you can, take photos or a video of the unit, including close-ups, prior to tenants moving in. If it is too late for that, definitely take photos/video as soon as the tenants move out. Make Notes. Write down anything that isn’t clear from the image (size of damage, type of damage, etc.).
  2. Have Repairs Made Immediately.
  3. Keep Paid Receipts for Repairs.
  4. Create an Itemized List. Provide the former tenant with an itemized list of the damages and how much it cost to fix them as an explanation of how the security deposit was used.

Not only will this checklist come in useful if you do get sued for the security deposit, it can provide you with a solid history of the unit for maintenance purposes.

Review Your Lease Agreements

If you’ve been sued more than once, it may be time to review your lease agreement. Make sure the agreement clearly states what will happen to the security deposit if the leasee doesn’t uphold his/her end of the agreement and include some examples of when the deposit will be withheld. This will help clear up any confusion the tenant may have about how to get their deposit back and provide you with additional protection against lawsuits.


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