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Ely
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 99981
Experience:  Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
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My landlord won't return my security deposit and says their

Customer Question

My landlord won't return my security deposit and says their is damage beyond what I have paid. They claim that my pet has been urinating in the heating vents and they need to replace all the floors and ductwork. I know that is a great exaggeration as the heating system hasn't worked in the over 8 years I have lived there ( I have been using the electric heat backup). I feel I am being taken advantage of and would like to do something about it. The amount is $2,400.00
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.
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I am sorry to hear about this. The landlord is allowed to keep the deposit for any damage "beyond normal wear and tear" of the property post-move out. The issue is that landlords frequently exaggerate the damage and/or the costs needed to clean it.
The problem is that the withholding of the deposit is presumed to be correct unless the former tenant challenges it. So, it is up to the tenant to challenge it by going to SMALL CLAIMS COURT, asking for the deposit back. Then, the Court decides on whether or not the amount was proper to withhold. It is important in these cases to take photos before moving out and if this was done, this would be helpful. If not, then it is basically tenant's word versus the landlord and the Judge makes a decision going off oral testimony as well as any other evidence.
See here. Often, a letter threatening suit is enough to come to an agreement, since the landlord may with to avoid going to court.
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