Can my landlord withhold my security deposit because the final water bill that was in my name has not been paid?

UPDATED: Oct 5, 2011

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Can my landlord withhold my security deposit because the final water bill that was in my name has not been paid?

I moved from my former residence one month ago. A month before, I discovered a water leak in the bathroom and reported it to my landlord. He sent someone out to look at it and told me he would take care of the leak when I moved out. After one month of the leak getting worse, which I informed him about, the water bill is now much more than usual (for a 3 month period, the bill is about $300, but 1 month it was over $400). He is now telling me that he will keep the security deposit for the large water bill and another bill. Can he do that?

Asked on October 5, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Here is the law in the state of Pennsylvania:

"Every landlord shall within thirty days of termination of a lease or upon surrender and acceptance of the leasehold premises, whichever first occurs, provide a tenant with a written list of any damages to the leasehold premises for which the landlord claims the tenant is liable. Delivery of the list shall be accompanied by payment of the difference between any sum deposited in escrow, including any unpaid interest thereon, for the payment of damages to the leasehold premises and the actual amount of damages to the leasehold premises caused by the tenant. Nothing in this section shall preclude the landlord from refusing to return the escrow fund, including any unpaid interest thereon, for nonpayment of rent or for the breach of any other condition in the lease by the tenant."

It is the last line above that makes me believe that if the water bill or any other bill was a condition as written in the lease then the landlord will have the right to with hold the security deposit.  I would speak with a tenant's rights organization and bring a copy of your lease agreement.  Good luck.


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