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Urban Myths: Even the Experts Can Be Wrong

By Mel Metts

Even the experts can be wrong! Iíve heard several bits of misinformation recently, and Iíd like to set the record straight.

Myth 1: Donít shovel your sidewalks! If you donít shovel, you canít be sued if someone slips and falls; but if you do shovel, you are liable.

Truth: CIVIL IMMUNITIES [Illinois Compiled Statutes]

(745 ILCS 75/) Snow and Ice Removal Act.

(745 ILCS 75/1) (from Ch. 70, par. 201)

Sec. 1. It is declared to be the public policy of this State that owners and others residing in residential units be encouraged to clean the sidewalks abutting their residences of snow and ice. The General Assembly, therefore, determines that it is undesirable for any person to be found liable for damages due to his or her efforts in the removal of snow or ice from such sidewalks, except for acts which amount to clear wrongdoing, as described in Section 2 of this Act.

(Source: P.A. 81-591.)

(745 ILCS 75/2) (from Ch. 70, par. 202)

Sec. 2. Any owner, lessor, occupant or other person in charge of any residential property, or any agent of or other person engaged by any such party, who removes or attempts to remove snow or ice from sidewalks abutting the property shall not be liable for any personal injuries allegedly caused by the snowy or icy condition of the sidewalk resulting from his or her acts or omissions unless the alleged misconduct was willful or wanton.

(Source: P.A. 81-591.)

Myth 2: Once you serve the Landlordís Five Days Notice, you may not accept partial rent.


(735 ILCS 5/) Code of Civil Procedure.

(735 ILCS 5/9-209) (from Ch. 110, par. 9-209)

Sec. 9-209. Demand for rent - Action for possession. A landlord or his or her agent may, any time after rent is due, demand payment thereof and notify the tenant, in writing, that unless payment is made within a time mentioned in such notice, not less than 5 days after service thereof, the lease will be terminated. If the tenant does not within the time mentioned in such notice, pay the rent due, the landlord may consider the lease ended, and sue for the possession under the statute in relation to forcible entry and detainer, or maintain ejectment without further notice or demand. A claim for rent may be joined in the complaint, and a judgment obtained for the amount of rent found due, in any action or proceeding brought, in an action of forcible entry and detainer for the possession of the leased premises, under this Section.

Notice made pursuant to this Section shall, as hereinafter stated, not be invalidated by payments of past due rent demanded in the notice, when the payments do not, at the end of the notice period, total the amount demanded in the notice. The landlord may, however, agree in writing to continue the lease in exchange for receiving partial payment. To prevent invalidation, the notice must prominently state:

"Only FULL PAYMENT of the rent demanded in this notice will waive the landlord's right to terminate the lease under this notice, unless the landlord agrees in writing to continue the lease in exchange for receiving partial payment."

Collection by the landlord of past rent due after the filing of a suit for possession or ejectment pursuant to failure of the tenant to pay the rent demanded in the notice shall not invalidate the suit.

(Source: P.A. 83-1398.)

Myth 3: Security deposits must be maintained in a separate account unless waived in writing by the tenant.

Truth: Myron Gaylord made this claim at the May LCAOA meeting. While Mr. Gaylord is very knowledgeable and provided valuable information, I believe this statement to be incorrect. I e-mailed him to request the source of his information, but he did not reply.

It is true that our legislators have attempted to pass this requirement, but it has never been enacted into law Ė yet. Hereís the applicable statute on security deposits (note that some municipalities do have stricter requirements, notably Chicago and Evanston), and it applies to interest, not to bank accounts:


(765 ILCS 715/) Security Deposit Interest Act.

(765 ILCS 715/1) (from Ch. 80, par. 121)

Sec. 1. A lessor of residential real property, containing 25 or more units in either a single building or a complex of buildings located on contiguous parcels of real property, who receives a security deposit from a lessee to secure the payment of rent or compensation for damage to property shall pay interest to the lessee computed from the date of the deposit at a rate equal to the interest paid by the largest commercial bank, as measured by total assets, having its main banking premises in this State on minimum deposit passbook savings accounts as of December 31 of the calendar year immediately preceding the inception of the rental agreement on any deposit held by the lessor for more than 6 months.

(Source: P.A. 87-386; 88-449.)

(765 ILCS 715/2) (from Ch. 80, par. 122)

Sec. 2. The lessor shall, within 30 days after the end of each 12 month rental period, pay to the lessee any interest, by cash or credit to be applied to rent due, except when the lessee is in default under the terms of the lease.

A lessor who willfully fails or refuses to pay the interest required by this Act shall, upon a finding by a circuit court that he has willfully failed or refused to pay, be liable for an amount equal to the amount of the security deposit, together with court costs and reasonable attorneys fees.

(Source: P.A. 79-1428.)

(765 ILCS 715/3) (from Ch. 80, par. 123)

Sec. 3. This Act does not apply to any deposit made with respect to public housing.

(Source: P.A. 80-491.)

Myth 4: Landlords must pay 5% interest on tenantsí security deposits.

Truth: As shown above, state law exempts your property if it contains fewer than 25 units. If youíre not exempt, the current statutory interest is 0.5%, or Ĺ of one percent. The statutory rates covering the past ten years can be found at under Banks and Trust News and Announcements.

For more, see Security Deposit Interest Act.