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updated: 11/6/2010 6:47 PM

Security deposit issues can be solved in court

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Q. I rented a condominium from a guy a little over a year and a half ago. The lease was for one year and after the year was up, we just kept going, though he raised my rent $25.

About two months ago I let him know that I would be moving out Oct. 31. He didn't seem to have a problem with it at the time. The place was spotless when I moved out.

I called him yesterday about my security deposit and he said he was not returning it. He says I signed up for another year when I continued after the first year and I broke that lease. He said I'm lucky that he isn't suing me for the rest of the second year.

I did not intend to commit for a second year when I continued on after the first year was over. Nothing was ever talked about between us. Is he correct that I am legally committed to a second year?

A. No. When you stayed on after the first year, you and the landlord created a month-to-month tenancy, which may be terminated by either party upon 30 days notice. You indicate you gave him notice but you did not say how. If it was oral and he denies you gave him notice, a factual issue arises as to whether or not notice was given. If it was in writing, how was it delivered?

If you had contacted me when you wanted to move out, I would have advised you to put your notice that you are terminating the tenancy in writing and deliver it personally to the landlord, preferably with a witness. Notice given during the month is effective at the end of the following month.

Regardless of how you gave the notice, if he refuses to return your deposit, I would suggest filing a pro se (on your own/no attorney) complaint in the county where the property is located. Judges hear and resolve security deposit disputes all the time. The process is simple and quick. Check with the clerk at your county courthouse regarding how these types of cases are handled.

Q. We are getting ready to sell our house. I was going through the documents we received when we bought our home and was reading our owners title policy. One of the items on the policy concerns me. It says there is an encroachment of our neighbor's driveway on our lot.

I do remember this being discussed at the closing and everyone deciding it was no big deal. It seems the neighbor's driveway extends about 8 inches onto our property. No one has said or done anything about it since we moved in.

Is this something that could cause a problem when we sell?

A. Probably not. These types of encroachments are common and this issue frequently arises in closings. You could demand the neighbor remove his driveway from your lot, but that would be silly and would do nothing for neighbor relations. The condition has probably existed for a long time and no closing I have ever attended blew up over something so minor. I would ignore it for now and if the issue comes up at your closing, the attorneys will work something out.

Send your questions to Attorney Tom Resnick, 345 N. Quentin Road, Palatine, IL 60067, by e-mail to tdr100@hotmail.com or call (847) 359-8983.

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