Tenant left personal property but did not leave keys

9 Replies | Chicago, Illinois

My tenant owes me  several  months of rent, FINALLY he  has stated he have moved but did not leave keys and have left a lot of personal property.  I have a new tenant moving in soon and need to clean my unit.  I have changed the locks and is in the process of tossing out the tenants stuff.  What is  the legal ramifications is in Chicago for personal property?   

 I have nowhere to store his crap especially when he owes me so much back rent.  If i don't move forward with a new tenant soon loose my rental unit. 

Any advice??

Be careful. It is best to consult your landlord tenant law. In VA we have very specific requirements for notification of suspected abandonment and storing items after abandonment. I one time had a tenant accuse us of stealing items after we stored her abandoned things in our box truck for 30 days. We followed the law and documented everything, so we won the suit. You won't if you just throw her stuff out.

No legal advice here, just my experience. If you have any record of your ex-tenant stating the fact that they vacated the unit it is enough for you to clean it out. If you don't have any record then it sounds like a tough spot.

If its been stated in writing from the tenant that the tenant has MOVED OUT, not planning to but actually has, toss what's left out. Then detail charges on the security deposit reconciliation for rekeying the unit and for the cost of the cleanout.

CRLTO 5-12-130 Landlord Remedies:

(e)Abandonment. Abandonment of the dwelling unit shall be deemed to have occurred when:

(1)Actual notice has been provided to the landlord by the tenant indicating the tenant’s intention not to return to the dwelling unit;

[...]

(f)Disposition of Abandoned Property. If the tenant abandons the dwelling unit as described in subsection (e) hereof, or fails to remove his personal property from the premises after termination of a rental agreement, the landlord shall leave the property in the dwelling unit or remove and store all abandoned property from the dwelling unit and may dispose of the property after seven days. Notwithstanding the foregoing, if the landlord reasonably believes such abandoned property to be valueless or of such little value that the cost of storage would exceed the amount that would be realized from sale, or if such property is subject to spoilage, the landlord may immediately dispose of such property.

I have text messages of tenant stating he is living somewhere else and will get the last items out Monday. I told him to leave keys in mailbox but Monday was the final day. Tenant agreed to past due rent balances of $8000 and will pay when he get on his feet ( not holding my breath). 

He did not leave keys. Have not answer any text or phone calls nor has he been back to property after he moved some items out on final day.  I believe he has volunteered to accept the eviction. (He lives in same building as landlord)

My concern is I'm reading a lot of scams on how Chicago tenants try to work the system and the landlord is stuck in a battle for months. Like: filing  bankruptcy, try to come back a week or two from now  and claim he did not move, wrongly evicted cuz he didnt leave keys.....

Originally posted by @Carrie B. :

I have text messages of tenant stating he is living somewhere else and will get the last items out Monday. I told him to leave keys in mailbox but Monday was the final day. Tenant agreed to past due rent balances of $8000 and will pay when he get on his feet ( not holding my breath). 

He did not leave keys. Have not answer any text or phone calls nor has he been back to property after he moved some items out on final day.  I believe he has volunteered to accept the eviction. (He lives in same building as landlord)

My concern is I'm reading a lot of scams on how Chicago tenants try to work the system and the landlord is stuck in a battle for months. Like: filing  bankruptcy, try to come back a week or two from now  and claim he did not move, wrongly evicted cuz he didnt leave keys.....

 Your Comment: "Tenant agreed to past due rent balances of $8000" I'm assuming your tenant's rent is $8,000 a month?

@Carrie B. your best option would be to store the tenant's belonging for several months just to be sure. You have to be very, very careful with personal possessions in Chicago as the land lord tenant ordinance can be frustratingly tenant friendly. I would not wait for the key either as you will never see it or hear from the tenant again. 

You may be able to get some of that money back though. Have you considered speaking with an attorney about it? My management company does this regularly, and if you get a judgement against a tenant you can sometimes get random chunks of money back months or even years later. 

What I don't want to do is throw more good money after bad. I don't expect to ever redeem money owe to me. (This is a lesson learned) I will store his items in my garage for 30 days, that’s the most I can do financially. What I would like to do is flag his credit report in some way to give a heads up to the next landlord out there.

@Carrie B. in order to do anything meaningful you will have to throw away more of your money. I would say move on to the next one. You will win more often than you lose as an investor.