Can my landlord keep my security deposit for a broken garage door used by all tenants because one of them claims that my boyfriend admitted to breaking it?

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Can my landlord keep my security deposit for a broken garage door used by all tenants because one of them claims that my boyfriend admitted to breaking it?

My previous land lord sent me a letter stating that she was keeping my security deposit of $950 to pay for a garage door that is broken and and the motor of the gargage door opener blew out. She is going on the word of a former tenant that moved out without giving her notice and who claimed that my boyfriend admitted to breaking the larger overhead door because we did not have our garage door opener. The landlord stated that it would cost more than $1000 to pay for the door and she was not paying for it out of her pocket. The garage is used by everyone in the building for different reasons.

Asked on August 10, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The landlord may only withhold the security deposit for damage done by a tenant or the tenant's guests. The landlord needs to be able to establish that you or  your boyfriend did the damage; if she cannot, she needs to return the money. If she will not return it voluntarily, you could sue her (such as in small claims court) for its return; she will have the opportunity in court to present any evidence or testimony establishing that your boyfriend did the damage--though the testimony of  former tenant would be heresay and inadmissible, unless she brings the tenant in to testify. You on the other hand, will be able to present your own testimony that you and your boyfriend did not do the damage.


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