What to do if I’m moving out of my apartment in 3 days and my landlord informed me 2 days ago that she has spent my security deposit?

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What to do if I’m moving out of my apartment in 3 days and my landlord informed me 2 days ago that she has spent my security deposit?

Further, she doesn’t have the money to pay me back right now. She said that she will get the money to me “when she can if she has it”. What rights do I have to get this money back? Also, is it illegal for her to spend my security deposit on personal use? I feel like that is considered stealing.

Asked on January 28, 2013 under Real Estate Law, Illinois

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, you acn't get blood out of a stone. However, that having been said, you can still sue your landlord in small claims court. If you win and are awarded a judegement, you can try to seize their personal property (that is not exempt under state law), you can garnish any wages or levy against any bank accounts that your landlord has. Even if you can't collect now, judgements don't typically expire in less than 6 years and some for 20 years (again depending on state law). Further, you can report this jugement to the credit reporting agencies; possibly that will spur her to find the money to pay you your security deposit back.

Also, this might be deemed to be a case of criminal "conversion". Accordingly, filing a criminal complaint may be in order. At this point consult with an attorney who handles landlord-tenant cases or speak with a tenant's rights organization. They can best advise you as to your rights and remedies under specific state law.


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