Past tenant has no financial obligation when lease expires
Q: I signed a lease with a friend of mine about a year and a half ago for a condo in Chicago. When the year was up, I moved out but my friend stayed. Apparently he is no longer paying rent because he is getting letters from attorneys saying both him and I owe five months back rent. I did not sign anything for this second year. Can I be held responsible for the rent that is now due? When I left, we were fully paid up.
A: I do not believe you could be held liable for rent obligations incurred after the lease you originally signed expired. This presumes there was nothing in the lease that requires you to give notice to the landlord of your intention not to extend the lease.
I would contact the attorneys that are sending this correspondence, explain the situation and offer proof that you have not resided at the property since the original lease expired. Change of driver's license address, new utility bills or other correspondence evidencing your new address will establish you no longer reside at the property.
If you are maintaining your friendship with your prior roommate, ask him to send you a copy of anything he receives regarding this matter. Your worst nightmare is a judgment being entered against you without your knowledge. This should not occur as you would need to be served first; however, folks have judgments entered against them all the time based on improper service.
Q: I am in the process of purchasing a small apartment building. For various reasons, I do not wish for my name to be associated with this property. What is the best way to keep this purchase and my name off the public records?
A: The simple answer is to have the property purchased by a land trust. Go to your favorite bank or title company that provides land trust services. Create the land trust by filling out some forms and paying a fee. Then, ask the attorney representing you in your purchase to request a modification to the contract, by changing the purchaser from Fred Smith to ABC Bank, as trustee under the trust agreement.
As part of the process of creating the land trust, you will create a trust agreement. This agreement will establish you as the beneficiary of the land trust. You may also name a successor beneficiary if you wish. In the event of your death or other designated event, the interest in the land trust will pass to the successor trustee, thus avoiding probate.
If this property is not located in Illinois, contact an attorney from the state where the property is located to determine if land trusts are legal in that state. Also, to accomplish your goal, make sure the deed goes directly from the seller to the land trust. Once the property is conveyed to you personally, deeming the property into the land trust will not remove you from the chain of title. Your involvement with this property will be permanently memorialized.
Q: I am having a dispute with someone about money he claims I owe him. I did borrow some money from this guy a few years ago but I paid him back. He thinks there is still money due on the loan. I signed something when I borrowed the money that stated the amount I borrowed. He is now threatening to record that document against my house. Can he do that?
A: No. If he wishes to turn this alleged obligation into a judgment lien against your property, he will first be required to file a lawsuit and obtain a court-ordered judgment against you. Of course, you would have the ability to provide a defense against these allegations. In the event the court sees fit to award a judgment against you, a document called a Memorandum of Judgment can be recorded in the county where your property is located, which will effectively cause a lien in his favor against your property.
• Send your questions to attorney Tom Resnick, 910 E. Oak St., Lake in the Hills, IL 60156, by email to email@example.com or call (847) 359-8983.