Can my landlord keep my refundable pet and security deposits even if the animal did absolutely no damage to the property?

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Can my landlord keep my refundable pet and security deposits even if the animal did absolutely no damage to the property?

We are coming to the end of our residential lease and are having issues with the landlord regarding the pet and security deposits. The contract did state that the dog was to be kept outside, however, we were unaware at the time of signing that the only (chain link) fence was not anchored to the ground and had about half a foot of space between it and the ground. We notified the landlord and he did not repair the fence (among other repairs he claimed he would make) so the dog was kept inside. I discussed this with him and he never brought it up until now.

Asked on August 30, 2011 Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Security deposit: the security deposit may *only* be kept to either 1)  pay for repair or replacement of appliances, walls, flooring, etc. damaged by the tenant, tenant's family or guests, or tenant's pets; or 2) if at the end of tenancy, there is unpaid rent due and owing. No rent due and owing, no damage, then the landlord can't keep the deposit.

Pet deposit (if separate from the above; if not separte, the security deposit rules should apply)--you have to look to the exact language of the lease. It may be that violating the terms of keeping your dog there (only outside) will allow the landlord to keep the deposit, though balanced against that is that the landlord's failure to repair the fence made it impossible. There may be no clear answer as to this, if the terms are ambiguous or you and the landlord disagree as to whether you could have complied with them. You may need to decide how much it is worth it to you to fight this issue.


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