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

UPDATED: Aug 30, 2011

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

UPDATED: Aug 30, 2011Fact Checked

Get Legal Help Today

Compare Quotes From Top Companies and Save

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption