Landlord Uses Deposit to Fix Pre-Occupancy Problems, What are Tenants Rights?

Note: The DearEsq free 'ask a lawyer' site is offered as a free informational service to the public and is not intended as legal advice. Laws vary from state-to-state, and in addition every situation is unique, and relevant facts may not be known. The answer to the question posed below may not apply to in your state or to your situation. For legal advice in your state and your situation you should consult with an attorney in your state who is familiar with the rules and laws in your state.

“After moving out of the townhouse that my wife and I were renting, the landlord refused to let us accompany him on the walk through inspecting for damages. Eventually, he gave in and allowed us to walk through with him. The place was in the same condition as it was when we rented it; including the problems with leaky water pipes, pigeons, and rodents that we had informed him of during the course of our lease. He then tells us that he has 30 days to return our deposit of $750.00 to us. After talking for awhile, we agreed as long as he gave us receipts for any repairs. 30 days later we received a computer printed receipt from and by him, for $920.00 worth of repairs. The receipt included charges for damages caused by the leaks that he never attended to; cleaning up of remains and droppings from birds and rodents by a cleaning company, labor charges for yard work that he performed himself and charges for the supplies to do it with. What options do I have to fight this?”

Landlord tenant law is a large, complex and ripe area of law, and the laws vary greatly from state to state. There is a lot of law which protects tenants rights, and also a lot of law which protects landlords rights. However, in your case, the simplest and probably most effective thing to do would be to take the landlord to small claims court. Hopefully you notified the landlord of the problems in writing, and the complaints in your writings correspond to the repairs that the landlord made with your deposit.

You may also want to look into reporting the landlord to whatever local or state board in your area oversees landlord tenant issues. Sometimes the threat of an investigation from a landlord-tenant overseeing agency will make a recalcitrant landlord think twice about playing fast with a tenant’s deposit.