Real Cases in Real Estate by Andrea Lee Negroni, Esq. – November 16th, 2011 Update

Real Cases in Real Estate by Andrea Lee Negroni, Esq. – November 16th, 2011 Update

Real Cases in Real Estate is a weekly update on real estate law, with legal principles illustrated and explained by lawsuits from around the country. The topics are wide-ranging for appeal to a broad spectrum of readers including lawyers, homeowners, investors and the general public. Andrea Lee Negroni, a Washington DC attorney and legal writer with 25 years of experience in financial services and mortgage law, contributes the case summaries.

Followers of Real Cases in Real Estate will learn and be entertained by lawsuits involving nuisance, trespass, zoning violations, deed restrictions, title insurance, public utilities, mechanics liens, construction defects, adverse possession, foreclosure and eviction, divorce and marital property rights, tenants' rights, and more. Real Cases in Real Estate uncovers the unpredictable, amusing, and sometimes outrageous disputes between next-door neighbors, contractors and homeowners, condo boards and residents, real estate brokers and homebuyers, and zoning administrators and developers.

Each fully cited case summary highlights the essential law of the case and explains the principal legal theories and concepts relevant to the outcome. Plain language treatment makes Real Cases in Real Estate accessible to lawyers and laymen alike.

Whether you follow real estate law professionally or as a hobby, you'll find something new and useful every week in Real Cases in Real Estate.

Updates for the Week of November 16th, 2011

A separate "pet deposit" isn't part of a security deposit subject to Chicago Landlord-Tenant law

Adam Bilsky rented a house from Vanessa Calabrese and paid a $3,150 security deposit and a $500 pet deposit in two separate checks. Calabrese, the landlord, collected the $500 pet deposit because she ordinarily did not accept dogs in her rental property. Adam overstayed his lease by a few days with his landlord's permission, but when he moved out, Calabrese refunded his $3,150 security deposit. The landlord did not refund the $500 pet deposit because she claimed the back yard was destroyed by Adam's dog and that it cost her $475 to re-sod the yard.

When Adam sued for return of his pet deposit, he claimed it was part of the total security deposit and this argument prevailed in the trial court. Adam was awarded damages from Calabrese for violation of the Chicago Landlord-Tenant Ordinance. Calabrese appealed, and the appeals court agreed with her that a pet deposit is a deposit with a limited purpose, and not part of a security deposit. The purpose of the security deposit is to insure the tenant's full and faithful performance of the lease, while the purpose of the pet deposit is to compensate the landlord in case the tenant's pet causes damage to the property. The result might have been different if the pet deposit had been included in the single security deposit, or if the security deposit itself had been increased in amount based on the fact the tenant had a pet. But in this case, there were separate checks for the security deposit and the pet deposit, and the lease made three separate mentions of the separate deposits.

Bilsky v. Calabrese, 2011 Ill. App. Unpub. LEXIS 746 (Ill. App. Ct. 1st Dist. 2011) [enhanced version available to subscribers]

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