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Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 101956
Experience:  Attorney
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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: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.
Hello and welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: (A) This is general information and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an expert on this site. By continuing, you confirm that you understand and agree to these terms; and (B) the site allows experts not participate in phone calls and I may or may not be able to participate in this feature.
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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