If we had to vacate our rental early due to mold, what are our rights to get back our security deposit?

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If we had to vacate our rental early due to mold, what are our rights to get back our security deposit?

We found black mold in our rental property and went to the PM company within 48 hours. We talked to the company owner who said we could vacate and keep our deposits intact pending a final walk-through. We had a final walk-through April 15 and the employees that did it said we would have our money in the mail within 30 days. I called day 31 and it is their position now that we did not give them ample time to correct the issue and we broke the lease early voiding our claim to the deposits. No notice was given for 45 days. Can we sue for double the security deposit amount per IL law?

Asked on July 13, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You need to consult with a landlord-tenant attorney. Given that you you had the approval of the property management company to vacate, you *should* be able to move out without penalty (and therefore seek appropriate remedies for not having received your security deposit back when due), but there are two issues that you will need to deal with:

1) Can you prove the agreement with the owner of the property management company? If it was an oral or verbal approval you'd received, this could be difficult, if he now remembers differently.

2) In the absence of some provable agreement to vacate, it may be that you did leave too precipitously--while landlords and their agents have to remediate mold issues, under the implied warranty of habitability, they have to be given notice and an opportunity to do so before  the tenant would be deemed to have good grounds to terminate the lease. You may need to show, if you can't show the existence of the agreement, that the situation was so urgent that you had to leave immediately to preserve health, or that the landlor or PM had some form of prior notice or knowledge and did not act to remediate the situation when they had the chance.


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