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socrateaser
socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Retired (mostly)
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I was looking to rent an apartment and found one that I was

Customer Question

I was looking to rent an apartment and found one that I was happy with. I met with the owners wife to look at the place and then a week later met with the owner to sign the lease. He showed up with no lease to sign and stated that he would mail it to me... which he never did. While I was there I gave him a security deposit for $395 with the memo apt 4. He took it and stated he would mail me the lease within the next few days. (i never filled out an application for the apt either). The lease never came in the mail and I ended up changing my mind and finding an apt that was better for my husband and I. I called the owner to explain the situation and spoke with his wife who said that he would call me back, which he never did. I later found out that 2 weeks after the conversation with the wife that he had cashed my security deposit. is he allowed to do this? please help
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  socrateaser replied 1 year ago.
Hello,

When was the lease supposed to begin?

Do you know if this "apartment 4" is still vacant?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

to my knowledge the apt 4 is still under lease with another tenant that wasnt supposed to end until august. He is still under contract with another tenant.


he had stated july 1st for my lease and i notified him on june 16th that i was no longer going to live there.

Expert:  socrateaser replied 1 year ago.

What you are describing appears to be a straight fraud. The landlord can't lease a property in July, if the lease doesn't end until August.

You could sue the landlord in small claims court to recover your money -- but, you may actually be able to engage local law enforcement. The police/sheriff aren't usually particularly receptive to small-time white collar crimes, but if the proof is clear, then they may be willing to investigate, and that investigation may cause the landlord to return your money, rather than risk a charge of false pretenses (criminal fraud).

Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

That helps. However, do I just explain to the local police officer what happened and he should look into it? It is a very small town.


 


if the police dont look into it, how do i go about small claims court and is it worth it for the amount of the rent?

Expert:  socrateaser replied 1 year ago.
Yes, just contact the police at the regular (not 911) number, and ask to speak with a detective about what you believe may be a criminal fraud or "theft by deception."

Re small claims, it's different in each state jurisdiction. Where are you located?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

i am located in Illinois in Vermillion County. (that's where this took place)

Expert:  socrateaser replied 1 year ago.
Here's an explanation of small claims by the Illinois State Attorney General. Your case in small claims is not based upon your ability to state a legal cause of action. If you just explain the facts, the court is almost certain to order the landlord to return your money, because a landlord cannot take a deposit without actually being able to provide possession of the rental to the prospective tenant -- and on your stated facts, the landlord could not do this in the time frame that you requested occupancy to commence.

Hope this helps.
socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 34860
Experience: Retired (mostly)
socrateaser and 9 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Would you be able to draw up a letter to send to the landlord?
Expert:  socrateaser replied 1 year ago.
Website policy and Illinois law prohibits me from representing any customer as a result of contact in this forum. If you need representation, you will have to hire local legal counsel. That said, you can send your own letter, though to be frank, it probably will "fall on deaf ears." You've explained yourself well in this forum. I suggest that you send a letter reciting the facts and summarize that you do not understand why the prospective landlord would cash a check for a property where possession could not be granted on the agreed-to date of July 1, and that the failure to deliver a lease agreement, demonstrated to you that there apparently was never any intent to lease the property to you.

Then you finish up with something like, "I would like to avoid resort to legal action in resolving this matter. However, if I do not receive a return of my security deposit by no later than ??/??/???? [10 days is sufficient, in my opinion], then I will take appropriate legal action to enforce my rights."

You can't threaten to go to the police unless he returns your money. That could be construed as criminal extortion on your part. Then, you wait out the time period and if you don't get your money back, you start making waves.

Hope this helps.

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socrateaser
socrateaser
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