Real Estate Law
Have Real Estate Law Questions? Ask a Real Estate Lawyer.
The landlord can only use your deposit for damages over and above normal wear and tear. What normal wear and tear is can be a subjective issue. However, dirty carpet is normal - stained, pet soiled, ripped, etc. carpet is not. Also, the landlord is required to have a walk-through with you and discuss any problems, repairs, etc. If he didn't do this, he may have waived his right to keep any of your money. You likely have a claim against the landlord in small claims court for your deposit.
As a tenant, you have a right to have all equipment working properly, and if it is not, you have a right to withhold rent until the unit gets fixed. If you have incurred these costs (expensive utility bills) because of the landlords failure to make necessary repairs, you can sue to recover part of that as well.
The judge may only award you a portion, but if you're going to sue for the security deposit, you might as well add this to the claim.