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Loren, Lawyer
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 34512
Experience:  Attorney with 30 years of experience representing landlords and tenants.
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Is it legal landlord to keep a security deposit

Customer Question

Is it legal for a landlord to keep a security deposit for legal fees in an eviction case in which the landlord and tenant settled withouta judge?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  Loren replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for using JustAnswer. I am Loren, a licensed attorney, and I will do whatever I can to answer your question.
Before I answer a bit more detail would be helpful please.
Does the lease provide for the payment of landlord's attorney fees?
Thank you.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
It does. I quote " remedies for breach. In the event of a breach of the lease or a violation of the tenant rules, tenant agrees to pay landlords reasonable attorneys fees, marshal fees, and court filing fees incurred by landlord to regain possession of the leased premises, and collect monetary damages and remedy any breach" My outlook on it is a judge never decided if I broke my lease, we had a mediator and agreed I'd leave at the end of my lease. I'm not questioning if the have the right to sue mefor that, I'm curious if its legal for them to keep my security deposit as repayment of "what they think I owe" them. It doesn't state in the lease that they can take that automatically (even if I was found guilty by a judge of violating my tenant rules) out of my security deposit. I'm a single father that was relying on my security back. To me its a lot of money.
Expert:  Loren replied 2 years ago.
I find your position is viable. If the obligation to pay attorney fees is not triggered unless there is a breach of the lease, you can argue the fees are not owed.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
To clarify, the break of my lease is my 12 y.o. son broke into a neighbors, got caught arrested, and didn't resist. I'm afraid it is a break in my lease. But I'm curious if its legal to take s.d.
Expert:  Loren replied 2 years ago.
The security may be used for damages or unpaid rent or fees. If the landlord was not entitled to attorney fees they could not deduct it from the security deposit.
Expert:  Loren replied 2 years ago.
You should go ahead with the small claims court process.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Should I go for double considering its state law to return it within 30 or the landlord owes double, and by the time I would receive it it'll be over 30 days?
Expert:  Loren replied 2 years ago.
Yes, of course.
Expert:  Loren replied 2 years ago.
Assuming, of course you have not received an itemized statement yet.
Expert:  Loren replied 2 years ago.
Because, they have to refund the deposit OR provide an itemized statement of charges within the 30 days.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I have. Its $85 deducted for a damaged door, the restis legal fees.
Expert:  Loren replied 2 years ago.
Then you are not entitled to punitve damages unless you can prove the deduction was made knowing it was not permitted.
Expert:  Loren replied 2 years ago.
Did you have further questions before you rate my answer.