Chicago, IL asked in Landlord - Tenant and Domestic Violence for Illinois

Q: Is it possible to get my security deposit back as a victim of domestic violence?

The landlord refused to give me my security deposit back because they say it “stays with the property”. My abusive ex has decided to stay there. I wanted to move for safety reasons. I was the one who solely placed the deposit before we moved in. That’s my money. Why couldn’t they refund my deposit and make him place his own? Especially in a situation like this? He wasn’t even allowed back to the property for a while due to an order of protection while I moved. I don’t understand why they couldn’t have collected a deposit in order to allow him back in the place. It’s extremely unfair that he’s the one who caused all the damage to the place by punching holes / kicking in everything. They know that. They have police reports. They have pictures. I had to endure his abuse & now my money is gone and they want to say there’s nothing I can do about it? That is disgusting and extremely unjust to me.

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: In situations involving domestic violence, some jurisdictions have laws that provide specific protections for victims, including matters related to housing and security deposits. If you had to move out for safety reasons due to domestic violence, there might be legal provisions that allow you to recover your security deposit, despite the landlord's claims that it "stays with the property." The fact that you were the one who placed the deposit and have documented evidence of the abuse and damage caused by your ex could strengthen your case.

The landlord's stance that the deposit stays with the property, regardless of changes in tenancy due to domestic violence, may not align with tenant protection laws in your area. These laws often require landlords to return security deposits to the tenant who paid them, minus deductions for damages beyond normal wear and tear. In cases of domestic violence, landlords may be required to make exceptions to standard policies, especially when the tenant needs to leave for safety reasons.

Consulting with a legal advisor who understands the rights of domestic violence victims and tenant law in your jurisdiction is recommended. They can help you understand your rights, the relevant laws, and the process for disputing the landlord's refusal to return your security deposit. Additionally, some regions have advocacy groups dedicated to supporting victims of domestic violence that may offer guidance or assistance in dealing with housing issues. Seeking their support could provide you with additional resources to navigate this challenging situation.

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