Small Claims Complaint

4 Replies

Hi all,

I'm working through a situation in which my tenants unexpectedly moved out while they still owe 1.5 months rent ($2625). I have a security deposit for 1 months rent, but they did not leave the home in great condition (minor damage to drywall, did not re-paint rooms they painted upon moving in, furniture left behind).

I'm looking for recommendations on how to handle this situation. Do I consider filing a small claims complaint? Other than the time and money I'll have to invest to take them to court, are there other risks (i.e. counter-suing) I should consider?

Thanks in advance,


You can try to file f you can collect but usually you’ll never see a dime of this money.

Do I understand this right ..why are you allowing tenants to paint rooms ? I’d Keep all the security deposit . I wouldn’t bother with any court unless you like losing even more money and wasting more time   .must be a nice place that is some incredibly high rent for only 1.5 months .i imagine you shouldn’t  have trouble getting another tenant if it’s that nice . A little drywall work some paint in a few rooms and taking some leftover crap to the dump is not a big deal bro . This is normal procedure for most of us 

Have you provided a letter with damages in the time frame required by law in your state?  Write it all up send out the notice with all charges by the deadline.  After that is done decide if the amount you don't have in hand is worth filing a small claim. The biggest mistake people make in this situation is not sending the letter of refund (in your case amount they owe) in time.  Look at the filing fees and if you have a day job time off and decide if you will make more then it will cost.   If you decide to go to court I would look to local landlords to tell you if the items you are asking for in damages will be upheld in your area. Chicago is very tenant friendly from what I read but a local would know.

If you go to small claims court and get a judgement in your favor you will likely never collect it. Best you could do is file it with the county with the property records. If they go to sell a house in the future it will come up on a title check and cloud title. You would then only sign a release of lien when they pay you the judgement amount but it could be years if ever you get the money. It also depends on the state laws regarding creditors. If they file bankruptcy it gets wiped out.

You also need to be careful about what constitutes abandonment in Chicago. Since they left furniture behind they could claim they didn't actually move out and you unlawfully took possession. So yes a counter suit is a possibility. Follow your property code to CYA. Make sure you attempt to contact them regarding the deposit and what they owe. In some places if you don't give the proper notice your case will be thrown out. You got the unit back in decent condition without going through the eviction process, that's a win in my book.