Chicago RLTO - You Could Be Liable For Atty. Fees

2 Replies

Appellate decision released today:

http://www.illinoiscourts.gov/Opinions/AppellateCo...

As I read it... 

It looks like the landlord sued for eviction due to nonpayment. The tenants counter-sued based on claims of poor conditions such as bedbugs and cockroaches as well as a retaliatory eviction. The retaliatory claim was denied, and the court found in favor of tenants in regard to the conditions.

The tenants wanted almost $10k in attorney fees as the prevailing party. Court denied, agreeing with tenant that since it was a counterclaim attorney fees weren't covered by the RLTO as only "plaintiff's" fees are covered. Appeal ensued, and case was remanded to award attorney fees for the portion of the fees which were earned on the prevailing claim (bad conditions).

Landlord never filed a brief to the appeal, but CAR and CAA did so supporting the landlord, as well as a number of groups supporting the tenant (definitely a good list to keep for donation references as well as groups to put on a donation blacklist). 

This is certainly a decision to keep in mind when a tenant files a counterclaim and you are pro-se or with a poor-performing attorney - even though the claim may be minimal, attorney fees of the tenant can be devastating. CLTO counterclaims now more than ever need to be taken seriously and rigorously defended against.

Matthew Olszak, Real Estate Agent in IL (#471019601)

@Matthew Olszak I have hear many stories like this but most of the landlords were scum to start.  Providing ongoing maintenance repairs and services such as pest control with documentation protects the tenants from having just reason.  I have heard landlords getting the "Prepaid Legal" policies to cover them for tenant issues like this.  The pay something like $69 per month to protect themselves against this sort of thing and they use the services to file for evictions to I heard.  All second hand info but maybe something to look into further as we are.  This allows more of a fixed cost.  

Mark Ainley, Real Estate Agent in IL (#471.003954)